We’ve always loved the last, and the latest generation of CX-5. We tested the mid-range GSX  model a few months ago, and claimed it “Still the medium SUV King”. Our man in Japan, Ken Salto, took a quick look at the new Takami model recently,  and liked it, to the point of preferring it over the diesel.

Mazda makes no direct claims in its brochure or on the website as to who the Takami is targeted at. It’s not meant to be a balls-out performance model. It’s simply listed as another model, that has a few more features and a more powerful engine.

After a week, would I feel the same way as Ken, pushing the diesel aside for the new model?

What’s In The 2019 Mazda CX-5 Range?

There seems to be something for everyone in the CX-5 range. At the bottom of the tree is the $40,995 front-wheel-drive GLX, fitted with a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine that will give you 115kW of power and 200Nm of torque. Mazda claims fuel consumption of 6.9L/100km for this engine.

As standard, you can expect 17” alloy wheels, LED headlamps, auto wipers, an electric park brake with auto hold, a 7” central touchscreen display, a 6-speaker audio system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, keyless entry and start, leather wrapped steering wheel and gear shifter, a reversing camera, tyre pressure monitoring system, Mazda’s IACTIVSENSE safety, which includes Advanced Smart City Brake Support (Forward), blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, Smart Brake Support, Forward Obstruction Warning, automatic high beams, lane departure warning, and lane keep assist.

That’s a huge range of features for a base model, and huge kudos to Mazda for including adaptive cruise control in a base model!

Moving up, next is the $43,495 GSX, which has the same 2.0-litre engine as standard (still front-wheel drive), or you can opt for the 2.5-litre petrol engine and all-wheel-drive (AWD) at $46,745, and lastly you can get the GSX with the 2.2-litre diesel engine, and AWD at $48,995.

The 2.5 petrol will give you 140kW of power and 252Nm of torque, while the diesel pushes out the same amount of power, but a far better 450Nm of torque. Fuel consumption for the 2.5-petrol is 7.4, while the diesel is 5.7.

Feature-wise the GSX also gets LED front fog lamps and tail lamps, heated and electric folding exterior mirrors, dual-zone AC with rear vents, an auto dimming rear-view mirror, an Active Driving Display (or heads-up display), proximity keyless entry, a mix of suede and leatherette upholstery, front and rear parking sensors, and additional safety features like Traffic Sign Recognition, Smart City Brake Support (rear) and Driver Attention Alert.

Next up is the Limited version, AWD only and with the 2.5 petrol or 2.2 diesel engine ($55,595/$58,495). More extras are added, like 19” alloy wheels, LED DRLs, a power tilt/slide sunroof, an electric tailgate, privacy glass, a 249-watt and 10-speaker Bose sound system, electric and heated front seats, black or white leather upholstery, and lastly it adds Adaptive LED headlamps to the safety features list.

At the top end, there’s the $61,495 Takami. It has unique 19” alloy wheels with 225/55 tyres, Aged Merlot Nappa leather, ventilated front seats, heated second row seating, a heated steering wheel, LED ambient lighting, black cabin headliner, a frameless rear-view mirror with auto dimming, genuine wood door and dashboard inserts, a unique overhead console, and a 360-degree View Monitor. It’s only available with a 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol turbo motor, lifted from the CX-9. This motor puts out 170kW of power at 5,000rpm and 420Nm of torque at 2,000rpm. According to Mazda, it should do 8.2L/100km on petrol

All CX-5s run a 6-speed automatic gearbox.

You can read more about the model on Mazda New Zealand’s website.

First Impressions Of The 2019 Mazda CX-5 Takami

It’s pretty hard to not like the overall design of the CX-5. We love them in Soul Red, but the Snowflake White Pearl Mica our test car was finished in looked pretty darn fine too. While the Takami version doesn’t have any different exterior design features, it does have special 19” alloy wheels to set it off, and they really do. I would have liked them ‘shiny’, but even in a matt grey they totally suit the CX-5.

The side view can look like a certain Korean brand of car, but there’s nice little touches like the chrome trim on the C pillar and those sexy rear tail lights to differentiate it from the rest of the pack.

Those tail lights make the most impression from the rear of course, looking very much like a Jaguar F-Pace. The rear could do with something else though, it is a bit bland. Side on is fine, but a rear view doesn’t look special except for the tail lights.

What’s The Inside Like On A 2019 Mazda CX-5 Takami?

So nice to see a ‘normal’ heads-up display (HUD), after the little flip-up one in the CX-3 we tested recently.

One pleasant surprise was the Takami-only Aged Merlot leather interior. It’s a cross between a dark brown and a deep red, and looks bloody fantastic. The seats, arm rests and doors have this finish, and even some of the plastic surrounding the centre console does too. It’s a refreshing change from a black leather interior, and adds a touch of class to the Takami.

You’ve got to hand it to Mazda; the interior quality really is a step up above its competitors. Sure, there are some that almost equal it, but the fit and finish of the CX-5’s interior is superb.

One slight negative is that the Takami has a black headliner. While this seems like an upmarket thing to do, it simply makes the interior darker. Thankfully there’s a sunroof to let some light in, but it’s not panoramic, so doesn’t do a great job of lightening up that dark inside.

There’s some piano black thrown around the interior, on the console and doors. Most people love the look of piano black, but man does it show the fingerprints bad.

Rear leg room is good. Not brilliant, but better than some. One CX-5 claim to fame are the rear doors, which open out almost perpendicular to the car. They’re great to use, and you wonder why more manufacturers don’t do this. It makes it so much easier getting into and out of the rear of the car.

The Takami version of the CX-5 has the same 10-speaker, 249-watt Bose sound system as the CX-5 Limited, complete with a big Bose sub-woofer in the boot, inside the space-saver spare.

To read more about the interior, read our review of the CX-5 GSX.

What Does The 2019 Mazda CX-5 Takami Drive Like?

Instantly, the CX-5 feels better than the old petrol version. Smoother, quieter – much more refined. I like it. Let’s get something out there – the petrol 2.5 CX-5 is a great car, but the engine is its weak point. Somewhat underpowered, and a little noisy at times. That’s why I’ve always said the 2.2 diesel CX-5 is the one to go for. It’s smoother, quieter and more refined (yes, I know, it’s a diesel) than the 2.5 non-turbo CX-5.

But now, at last, there’s a petrol that CX-5 that’s an option instead of the diesel. Before, for me, it was no-brainer. Now, not so much. But let’s see how that pans out after a week with the car.

As usual, the CX-5 has a great ride –this is one of its highlights. With Mazda’s SkyActiv chassis and G-Vectoring Control (GVC), it rides very nicely for an SUV. Bumps are barely heard, and not often felt. I must admit, at low speeds it can feel a little harsh, but overall it’s top of the class.

While there’s a great HUD right on the windscreen, I still appreciate that Mazda have a huge speedo dead centre in the dashboard. We’ve all got to watch we don’t go a few km/h over the speed limit, so anything to help that along has got to be good. While you can’t customise the dash, the instruments themselves are beautifully clear, with black gauges and white numbering. They couldn’t be clearer.

Mazda’s HUD is one of the best in this price range. It’s clear, easily adjusted, and also has a warning if you get too close to the car in front. We’ve seen too many manufacturers that have this safety feature, but instead of putting it on the HUD, they stick it on the dash, where it can be missed. Good on Mazda for doing it right, and I took notice when it flashed up orange, and backed off.

There is a trip computer of course, giving you fuel consumption, range to empty, the normal things you get. On the left of the speedo and the right of the rev counter are two extra gauges I don’t remember from the last CX-5. One is an instant fuel consumption gauge, and the other is for distance to empty. I’ve not seen the latter as a gauge all by itself before, but I guess it’s a handy thing to have.

The steering wheel has to be mentioned, as it works so well. I’m not talking about steering – more on that later – but the controls. They’re laid out so well, so evenly, that after one day, there’s no need to look down again to see which button does what. That’s a sign of it working the way it should. The steering wheel itself feels great, just the right size and the touch of the leather is perfect.

I did find it a little strange that for a top-spec car, there’s no Qi wireless phone charging. But then again, this generation of CX-5 came out a couple of years ago, when that feature was just being born. Hopefully the next release will see Qi charging included.

Tyre noise seems to have improved with this model, even coarse chip seal – normally the test for any tyre – didn’t get too much noise out of the tyres. Wind noise too is pretty good; it’s no CX-9, but it’s still above par for medium SUVs.

It was nice during the cold snap we had, to have both heated front seats and a heated steering wheel. Those who poo-poo the heated steering wheel have never used one. Use one once, you are a convert. The heated wheel is specific to the Takami model, as are the rear seats, which are heated as well. The only drawback here is that the controls for the rear heated seats are under the centre arm rest, so it’s for two passengers only in the rear, or set and forget if you have a third. Not the end of the world.

Enough of heated steering wheels and heads-up displays. What’s it go like with the CX-9 motor in it? One of my memories of the CX-9 is its absolute refinement; totally and blissfully quiet on the motorway, it’s a benchmark for me. The CX-5 in the petrol model was never close to that. It had potential, but the diesel was quieter. Is this one better? Yes. It’s still doesn’t match the CX-9, but it’s a whole lot more refined than before, and then you get the performance on hand to boot.

So – does it perform, with the same engine as the far bigger CX-9? You bet. With 30kW more power than the diesel, but 50Nm less torque, it’s a great drive. Interestingly, both petrol and diesel engines develop maximum torque at a low 2,000rpm. Maximum power in the diesel is achieved at 4,500rpm, while it’s 5,000rpm in the petrol. Couldn’t really get much closer, could it?

With G-Vectoring Control Plus as well as the SKYACTIV chassis, the latest gen CX-5 has always been a great handling car. Now though, with the gruntier petrol engine, will it be better – or worse – on a windy road? Or will the diesel still be the one to go for?

I took the CX-5 Takami to my Favourite Handling Road, a mix of tight bends – some of them down to 20km/h – on an extremely quiet weekday, and let it have its head, where it was safe. It really reminded me how good the CX-5 handles, no matter what engine is has. You can absolutely chuck this car about, and it laps it up.

With AWD, the grip is there most of the time. Hard acceleration out of a bend will see the car scrabbling for grip for a second or so, then systems kick in, and it grips and goes. And it really does go, and above around 4,0000rpm, even has a nice sound to it – almost sounding throaty at times. This is a time where it is more fun – for the noise – than the diesel. Full acceleration in a straight line will see no wheel spin, but a slight turn of the wheel and you’ll hear the chirping of the tyres every time.

There’s not much tyre squeal on the corners unless you really push it, but it all feels so controllable and dare I say it for an SUV – composed. Sure, there’s body roll there, but it’s not bad at all, as the GVC really keeps it in check. I love this chassis, and I love GVC. They work brilliantly together.

The engine revs freely right out to the 6,500rpm redline, although there’s not much point going past 5,000, with all that torque down low. Turbo lag down low? Not really, especially in Sport mode, as that low end torque masks it nicely. Keep a few revs on the dial, and the throttle response is instant. If you want it to go, it will oblige, at times launching forward.

After a drive, I pulled over to take some notes, and then caught the smell of the overworked brakes. Let’s face it; the CX-5 Takami is not made for burning up windy roads, but it can.

So then – would I take the diesel or the petrol? At the beginning of the drive, I would have said the diesel without hesitating. After a week and 500km of driving the Takami, I’m a bit more torn.

Both are excellent. I’m going to stand my ground though – I think the diesel is still the one to go for. It feels like it delivers the power better, and on the day-to-day is the better engine – in my opinion.

But the Takami…a CX-9 engine in the mid-size CX-5 was always going to be a peppy car, and it totally is. I think in the end, it’s down to personal choice. If you don’t like diesels, there’s now a worthy option in the CX-5 Takami.

I’m leaving fuel economy until last. When Ken drove the car in Japan, he got 10.0L/100km out of it. Over my 500km of mixed driving, I used 10.2. Too high? It’s a bigger engine to feed, and it’s still less than the 11.5 that John got out of the CX-9 Takami with the same engine. When we reviewed the GSX 2.5, I got 8.8L/100km out of that, so I think 10.2 is a fair number.

What’s The Competition For The 2019 Mazda CX-5 Takami?

Brand/Model Engine Power/
Seats Cargo
capacity, litres
Fuel L/100km Price
Volkswagen Tiguan TSI R-Line AWD 2.0-litre, turbo-petrol 4-cylinder 162/350 5 615 7.8 $65,990
Jeep CherokeeTrailhawk 4WD 3.2-litre, V6 petrol 200/315 5 N/A 10.2 $64,990
Mazda CX-5 Takami AWD 2.5-litre, turbo-petrol 4-cylinder 170/420 5 455 8.2 $61,495
Hyundai Tucson Limited AWD 1.6-litre, turbo-petrol 4-cylinder 130/265 5 488 7.7 $59,990
Holden Equinox LTZ-V AWD 2.0-litre, turbo-petrol 4-cylinder 188/353 5 846 8.2 $57,490
Skoda Karoq TSI Sport Line FWD 2.0-litre, turbo-petrol 4-cylinder 140/320 5 521 7.6 $55,990
Ford Escape Titanium AWD 2.0-litre, turbo-petrol 4-cylinder 178/345 5 406 8.6 $53,490

What’s The Pros And Cons For The 2019 Mazda CX-5 Takami?

Pros Cons
  • Performance
  • Refinement
  • Overall quietness
  • Interior quality
  • Design
  • Handling
  • Ride
  • Aged Merlot leather
  • HUD
  • A bit dark inside
  • Pricey

What’s The Verdict On The 2019 Mazda CX-5 Takami?

I labelled the 2.5 CX-5 GSX ‘Still the medium SUV King’ – and then gave it a 4.5 chevron rating. When we tested the diesel CX-5 Limited, again I gave it a 4.5 chevron rating. For both cars, I just couldn’t quite get there on a full 5 chevron rating.

Here’s the kicker; I know I said I’d choose the diesel over the petrol engine, but I have to give the Takami a 5-chevron rating. Anything I don’t like just isn’t enough to downgrade it even a half point. For the diesel, I considered it not having Apple CarPlay or Android Auto a negative – but now the Takami has both.

Either the diesel or Takami version of the CX-5 will make for one happy buyer. But the Takami? It’s surely something special, and is totally worthy of a full score.


2019 Mazda CX-5 Takami rating: 5 Chevrons

2019 Mazda CX-5 Takami – Specifications

Vehicle Type Medium SUV
Starting Price $40,995
Price as Tested $61,495
Engine 2.5 litre turbo in-line 4 cylinder, 16 valve DOHC S-VT petrol, (SKYACTIV-G 2.5T) engine
Transmission 6-speed (SKYACTIV-Drive)
Power, Torque
Spare Wheel Space saver
Kerb Weight, Kg 1,720
Length x Width x Height, mm 4550x1840x1680
Cargo Capacity, litres 455/1355
Fuel Economy,
Advertised Spec – combined –  8.2
Real World Test – combined – 10.2
Low Usage: 0-6 / Medium Usage 6-12 / High Usage 12+
Fuel tank capacity, litres 58
Towing Capacity
Kg, unbraked/braked
Turning circle, metres 11.0
Small: 6-10m / Medium 10-12m / Large 12m+
Warranty 5 years Mazdacare warranty unlimited km
5 years Roadside Assistance unlimited km
Mazda Servicing for 3 years/100,000km
ANCAP Safety Ratings 5 Stars

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Fred Alvrez
How on earth to start this? I've been car/bike/truck crazy since I was a teen. Like John, I had the obligatory Countach poster on the wall. I guess I'm more officially into classic and muscle cars than anything else - I currently have a '65 Sunbeam Tiger that left the factory the same day as I left the hospital as a newborn with my mother. How could I not buy that car? In 2016 my wife and I drove across the USA in a brand-new Dodge Challenger, and then shipped it home. You can read more on www.usa2nz.co.nz. We did this again in 2019 in a 1990 Chev Corvette - you can read about that trip on DriveLife. I'm a driving instructor and an Observer for the Institute of Advanced Motorists - trying to do my bit to make our roads safer.


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