It’s no secret that we love the Mazda CX-5 here at DriveLife. The sheer driveability and driving dynamics, the look, the fit and finish….it’s a brilliant mid-sized SUV.

The current generation has been with us since 2017, and while still a great car, could do with a refresh. For 2022, Mazda has made some cosmetic and other changes to the car, so we shot to Auckland to go to the launch.

As always, we were treated with some news around Mazda and following that, some stats around the CX-5 – Mazda’s best-selling model in New Zealand.

While at the moment, Mazda only has one EV here – the MX-30 – globally, Mazda has a core vision of CO2 reduction. This is achieved by a number of things, called their “multi-solution strategy”, and while they mention that while EVs have a part to play in global CO2 emissions, two-thirds of energy created globally comes from coal and gas.

“We believe the internal combustion engine (ICE) will still be there powering the vast majority of cars in the foreseeable future,” says David Hodge, Managing Director of Mazda New Zealand.

With this belief that EVs are only a part solution, Mazda NZ is obviously proud that it is heavily involved with Trees That Count, and for every new Mazda sold here, 5 trees are planted. That means that every year, 25,000 trees are from Mazda New Zealand. To date, they have planted 111,000 trees.

David goes on to say, “An average car outputs 3.2 tons per year of CO2. Five trees will sequester the CO2 for that amount. Of course, you’d have to plant 5 trees every year to do this, and we would encourage customers to do this, but planting 5 native trees for every car sold is a great start.”

He goes on to say that it’s not the engine that outputs the CO2, but the fuel that powers the engine. An interesting angle to take.

Sustainable Zoom-Zoom

Apparently, Mazda was the first manufacturer to recycle bumpers, and also developed the industry’s first high-strength, heat-resistant paint derived from bioplastics and used mainly in seats.

Mazda also has its ‘Gram’ strategy to reduce weight; the less weight a car has to move, the less Co2 emissions. The MX-5 is a great example of this, says David. “Where possible, Mazda models are made from recycled materials. The MX-30 is our first car to really show this off,” he says.

With an aim to be carbon neutral by 2050, Mazda has installed a 1.1-megawatt solar array at its Hiroshima plant, which not only powers the entire plant but also charges all the batteries for any MX-30 EVs that come off the production line.

Mazda CX-60

This is the first model to use Mazda’s ‘Large Platform’, and was released in Europe last month. With a wide range of powertrains, in New Zealand, we will get the CX-60 with a first-ever (for Mazda) plug-in hybrid (PHEV), with a ‘relatively large ‘ battery. The range is TBA, and it’s expected around mid-2023 in New Zealand.

Mazda CX-5

It’s been ten years since the launch of the original CX-5 in 2012, a time when “SUVs were still trying to find their place” suggests Tim Nalden, of Mazda New Zealand. The car was the first to use Mazda’s Kodo design approach.

Then the next gen came along in 2017, with big changes to the interior. This moved the CX-5 up a notch in the market, with a stunning front-end design.

Worldwide, Mazda has sold 3.6m CX-5s, while at home there’s been 27,225 units sold – or 29% of total Mazda volume. March 2022 was the biggest month ever in New Zealand for CX-5 sales, with the CX-5 taking 34% of all Mazda sales in New Zealand in 2021.

Model-wise, it’s 27% for the Limited, 67% for the GSX, and just 6% of the base GLX model. In a breakdown of company vs. private sales, the tide has turned with 55% of last year’s CX-5 sales coming from private buyers, and 45% from business buyers, the first time private buyers have outdone business buyers.

The new colour, Zircon Sand Metallic

2022 Mazda CX-5

Mazda will retain the existing models but will slip a new model in there, the Activ. So from the base to the top, it’s GLX, GSX, Activ, Limited, SP25T, Takami.

The new model sees the debut of Mazda’s “Mi-Drive” system.  There’s been a few changes to get this system working; The TSC button that used to be on the right-hand side of the steering wheel to control any sort of off-roading in an AWD CX-5 is now gone, replaced by the Mi-Drive button on the centre console. This button – only in AWD models of Activ or Takami – allows the driver to select Sport mode, but moving the button down will select Off-Road mode. More on this later.

Visually, it’s a small facelift, although both bumpers are changed, with a “matured front face” and a new textured honeycomb grille. There are new DRLs as well, and other cosmetic changes up front. Side on, the Takami model has body-coloured wheel arch guards, while on the SP25T they are a gloss black.

At the rear there are larger tailpipes on some models, and some slightly changed taillights. It seems Mazda has taken an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fi it” approach here. The CX-5 is known for its design, and I expect that there’s a percentage of buyers that go on the look of the car.

This is the Mazda quote on the design changes: The most recognisable change on the 2022 CX-5 is the refreshed exterior styling. Mazda designers focused on refining the front and rear ends, opting to minimise character lines in favour of reflective body surfaces that create a distinguished and elegant appearance. The front fascia adopts a new signature wing that extends outward from the front grille, which is also updated with a three-dimensional texture that replaces the outgoing mesh surface. The headlights and taillights receive significant design changes with each lamp featuring a pair of horizontally spaced, rectangular LED lights that create a sleek, eye-catching expression. All-new aluminium alloy wheels complete the transformation to help further the SUV’s urban and elegant appeal.

While the inside is largely unchanged, if you buy an Activ model – in any body colour – your CX-5 Activ will have lime accents.

While we love a CX-5 in Soul Red here at DriveLife, Mazda has launched a new colour across the range, Zircon Sand Metallic. Apparently, this colour comes from Mazda’s heritage; in 1953, they were the first manufacturer to use sand models to design componentry for their cars. A slim connection, but still, a connection.

Activ model CX-5

The SP25T is definitely aimed at the sport driver, with that high-gloss trim around wheel arches, larger tailpipes, and red piping for the full leather interior.

At the top of the tree is the Takami, which is declared by Mazda to be “premium|refined|rich”. Changes include body-coloured wheel arch guards, high-gloss wheels and grille, and larger gloss tailpipe extensions. On the inside, it has nappa leather.

It’s not just the body that’s changed though, with SkyActiv Vehicle Architecture employed across all models. As part of this system, there’s a new damping control structure to reduce vibrations and noise, the G-Vectoring Control (GVC and on the new CX-5, it’s now GVC Plus) suspension and steering system has been improved, and work has been done on the seats with improved cushioning

Mazda claims that Noise, Vibration and Harshness (NVH) has improved “quite markedly”, but only a decent drive will confirm that claim.

2022 Mazda CX-5: Mi-Drive

The Mi-Drive system has 3 modes; Normal, Sport, Offroad. Obviously, the Sport mode sets acceleration as the priority, but the core of the work has been done in the new Offroad mode. This combines GVC Plus, AWD torque, traction and transmission control to “harmonise driving” when in conditions that are not ideal for traction. Mi-Drive is only available on the Activ and Takami models.

It’s intended for snow, muddy roads, or boat ramps, and utilises things like:

  • More torque convertor slip
  • A higher idle speed (1,000rpm)
  • i-Stop is turned off
  • There’s more braking per wheel in certain conditions
  • Better engine torque control
  • Better accelerator control
  • Less invasive DSC
  • Constant drive to rear wheels (15% of power)
  • More slippage between 1st and 2nd gear, and
  • The PTO has a damper

Mechanically, the new CX-5 is the same as the outgoing model, with:

  • 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder petrol engines (front-wheel drive CX-5s)
  • 2.5-litre naturally aspirated (some AWD models)
  • 2.5-litre, turbo only in 2.5T and Takami

We’re sorry to see the diesel CX5s gone. Apparently, only 1 out of 10 CX-5s sold were diesel, but it was such a great engine.

Other changes to the new model include a dual-level floor in the cargo area, complete with a reversible cargo board, which is water-resistant on one side (an option but standard on the Activ). There’s now a hands-free tailgate on the Takami, and the adaptive LED headlamps have been improved on the SP25T, Takami and Limited models, for more precise control.

Cruising and Traffic Support has been added to those top three models: it activates up to 55km/h, and will provide steering assistance (“Traffic Support”).

What’s It Like To Drive The 2022 Mazda CX-5?

We’d only get a short drive in the car today, with my time split spending 30 minutes behind the wheel of the new SP25T, and then 30 minutes with the new Activ model. I naturally gravitated to the Soul Red SP25T, and hit the road to spend some time in the suburbs near Auckland Airport. Memories of this excellent turbo 2.5-litre engine come rushing back; it’s so refined, smooth, and torquey, it’s an absolutely pleasure to drive. Overall, the car does feel a bit tighter and quite possibly there’s less NVH than before. Even though it was only a short drive around suburban streets, the cars does seem incredibly quiet and smooth on the inside.

Next it was into the Activ model, with those lime green accents on the dash assaulting your eyes. I’m pretty sure you’d get used to them, and admittedly they do add a splash of colour to the interior. I was missing the turbo motor though; there’s nothing inherently wrong with the 2.5 non-turbo, but there just isn’t the same refinement. The Mi-Drive button was there as promised, but little use in suburbia. Hopefully, once we get the car on test, we can see how it does. This was far too short a drive to get any real sense of the changes to the car, but it was a good teaser, and reminds me just how good an SUV the CX-5 is.

2022 Mazda CX-5: Models And Prices

Each model includes 3 years of free scheduled servicing, a 5 years comprehensive unlimited-kilometre warranty, and 5 years Roadside Assist.

Model DescriptionRRP
CX-5 FWD 2.0L GLX 6AT Petrol$42,290
CX-5 FWD 2.0L GSX 6AT Petrol$44,790
CX-5 AWD 2.5L GSX 6AT Petrol$47,990
CX-5 AWD 2.5L Activ 6AT Petrol$50,990
CX-5 AWD 2.5L Limited 6AT Petrol$57,790
CX-5 AWD 2.5T SP25T 6AT Petrol Turbo$61,290
CX-5 AWD 2.5T Takami 6AT Petrol Turbo$64,290

The short story is, the CX-5 has always been an excellent SUV. These changes can only make it better for everyday and occasional off-road use. DriveLife has the new 2022 Mazda CX-5 to review shortly.

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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 also an Observer for the Institute of Advanced Motorists - trying to do my bit to make our roads safer.

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