ROAD TEST – Mazda CX-5

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MOTORING man Les Oliver looks at a fresh challenger to the new breed of electric and hybrid cars facing Sunderland motorists.

Though a late arrival at the compact crossover party Mazda makes an entrance with the bold claim that it has a credible alternative to see off the topical new electrics and hybrids tempting Wearside drivers.

Its first compact SUV, the CX-5, is powered by conventional petrol and diesel engines.

But it stands out thanks to a raft of emission and fuel-saving measures collectively labelled “Skyactiv (sic) technology”.

As a result the company claims its newcomer has the best mpg and CO2 in its class.

Mazda’s UK boss Jeremy Thomson is certainly not carried along by the electric revolution. “We don’t think the public wants the compromises that come with electric cars,” he told the Echo, “the limited range, under 100 miles in some cases, high prices, and uncertain residual values. We think the combustion engine still has a long way to go.”

Their all-new CX-5 is available with two or four-wheel drive two-litre 165PS petrol or a 2.2-litre diesel with a choice of 150 or 175PS power outputs.

With Skyactiv technologies every superfluous ounce is eliminated.

A sculpted body, top notch engine compression ratios, super efficient transmissions, ultra light chassis and “i-stop”, an engine idle fuel saver – all under the Skyactiv umbrella – make the CX-5 an exceptionally lean green driving machine.

The 150PS diesel gives a very impressive 61.4mpg and just 110g/km CO2.

It will also reach 62mph in 9.2 seconds with a top speed of 126mph.

With five trim levels there are 18 models to choose from.

Standard equipment, even on the lowest SE-L model, is generous, including 17in alloy wheels, dusk and rain sensors, dual zone climate control, integrated Bluetooth, cruise control, 5.8in colour display, and a multimedia control hub.

All models have “citybrake” which detects a potential collision and automatically applies the brakes to reduce accidents at city speeds, a feature usually only available as an extra cost option on other manufacturers’ cars.

The higher powered all-wheel drive diesel with a six-speed automatic transmission is the best performer of the range – quick, quiet and very responsive on long twisty roads.

But the manual 150PS version did not disappoint.

At the wheel, the driver has a functional dash with everything suitably to hand but on the downside there are very few storage cubby holes.

It’s a high-riding five-seater (there are no plans to bring out a seven) but the split/fold rear seat is the last word in convenience.

When you open the tailgate the tonneau cover also rises up out of the way for easy access.

And it’s got one of the largest boots in the segment (503 litres extendable to 1,620 with the seats down).

Whether this is a viable alternative to electric vehicles remains to be seen.

But it is certainly a keen contender in the busy compact SUV sector.

This Mazda costs from £21,395 to £28.795. The lowest powered diesel for £22,995 gives a range of up to 760 miles on a full tank.

You would get better economy and lower emissions from Peugeot’s 3008 electric/diesel hybrid but prices start at £27,000.

TECH SPEC

Mazda CX-5

Engine: 2.2 diesel

Power: 150bhp

0-60: 9.2 secs

Top speed: 126mph

Economy: 61.4mpg

CO2: 119g/km

Price: £22,995