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First review Mazda CX-5 Skyactiv-D (2021): how wonderful a diesel is!

What is striking about the Mazda CX-5 Skyactiv-D (2021)?

That there is a diesel engine in the graceful nose of the renewed Mazda CX-5. After all, in this time of (plug-in) hybrids and fully electric cars, diesel has become a pariah, being chased out of the land gates smeared with pitch and feathers. Older diesels are no longer allowed in city centers and to make up for the height of the motor vehicle tax with the lower diesel price, you have to drive a lot of kilometers on an annual basis.

Mazda admits frankly that the market for the CX-5 Skyactiv-D in the Netherlands is limited. And yet there is demand for it, according to the brand, especially from the corner of business drivers, caravan tractors and driving school owners. Mazda thinks the time is not yet right to fully focus on alternative powertrains. The current delivery program includes petrol and diesel models, cars with mild hybrid technology and a fully electric crossover. Plug-in hybrids and a plug-in car with a rotary motor as a range extender will be added in the near future.

What’s good about the Mazda CX-5 Skyactiv-D?

Its design! Of course you can argue about taste, but in our opinion the Mazda CX-5 is still one of the most beautiful SUVs on the market after five years on the market. Its Kodo design – as Mazda calls it – is stylishly minimalist. Not one line has been put too much, but the CX-5 is immediately recognizable as Mazda. This is not only due to its silhouette, but also to its pinched rear lights and characteristic front. The CX-5 has an overbite, like a shark, with an ‘upper lip’ that protrudes slightly. A bit like classic BMWs have. Beautiful!

The interior even has an Alfa Romeo atmosphere, with an attractively styled dashboard, which unfortunately lacks some modern technology. For example, no digital cockpit is available on the CX-5. Which is somewhat offset by the optional head-up display. The standard screen of the infotainment system is laughably small and the more expensive version is not even that much bigger. We do not mind – the system works and looks fine – but we can imagine that it is a point of criticism for some.

While driving, you can only operate the Mazda CX-5’s multimedia system with a BMW iDrive-like dial on the center console. The touchscreen only becomes active when you are standing still. Mazda does this for safety. Swiping and clicking on the screen would be too distracting, according to the manufacturer, and we actually agree. In addition, the button operation is intuitive and fast (it is less useful if you have connected your phone via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto), and you can also control various functions with voice commands.

The Skyactiv-D diesel engine then, which has become slightly more powerful for the new model year. It no longer delivers 175 hp, but 184 hp, and with 445 Nm of pulling power it does not turn his hand for a hefty trailer (2000 kilos for the 2WD versions, 2100 kilos for the four-wheel drive). If you opt for the manual six-speed gearbox, you can surf on the ever-present torque wave. The CX-5 Skyactiv-D with automatic transmission gives you – on the feeling – less that wonderful diesel push in your back. The consumption is between 1 in 15 (4WD) and 1 in 18 (2WD). Neat!

The Mazda CX-5 is also a competent all-rounder as a diesel. It is comfortable (with a tiny touch of sportiness in its steering), very well finished, spacious (also in the second row) and multifunctional. Its trunk capacity is, with 477 – 1377 liters, not ‘class-leading– as car manufacturers commonly say – but who cares. There is more than enough space available.

What could be better about the Mazda CX-5 Skyactiv-D?

Not much, to be fair. If we do have to mention a minus, then we go for the noise of the turbo diesel engine, which is a bit too emphatic in the interior. A touch more sound insulation would have been nice. Oh, and there are so few exterior colors available on the Mazda CX-5. Ten, officially, but seven of them are white, black and gray. Bah!

When will the Mazda CX-5 Skyactiv-D come and what does it cost?

The Mazda CX-5 Skyactiv-D has been available to order for a while. It is available with a manual six-speed gearbox (and front-wheel drive) from 45,190 euros. If you want a six-speed automatic, you will lose at least 51,090 euros. There are also four-wheel drive versions, but then you are immediately stuck with a much higher level of equipment: Luxury. The manual CX-5 Skyactiv-D with 4WD costs 56,540 euros. You get a machine for 5600 euros more.

What do I think of the Mazda CX-5 Skyactiv-D?

If I were in the market for a midsize SUV, the Mazda CX-5 would definitely be a candidate. I am a fan of its appearance, but also of its high-quality interior. In terms of handling, the CX-5 is less distinguished. He’s a bit of a thirteen-in-a-dozen in that area. That the Mazda doesn’t have a digital cockpit and a huge infotainment screen doesn’t matter to me, but will be a deal breaker for others. The Skyactiv-D’s diesel engine is strong and economical, but will hardly be preferred in the Netherlands. Understandable. And yet a pity …

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