2019 Mazda CX-5 Takami Review - Takami Take Four

 

Welcome to the fourth installment of Takami, the high-end variant now added to the CX-5 range. Does the addition of the 2.5 turbopetrol engine to the mix make for a sporty CX-5, or is Mazda barking up the wrong tree?

Words: Kyle Cassidy   |   Photos Tom Gasnier
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You’re looking at Mazda’s best seller, here and worldwide.

In the US, Mazda sold more CX-5s than the rest of the range combined. It seems they got everything right with this model, which launched Mazda’s SkyActiv renewal with a successful engineering-led programme and helped revive the fortunes of Hiroshima’s car maker.

We recognised the CX-5’s charms from the get-go, awarding it our Car of the Year gong while everyone else went gaga for the Toyota 86 back in the day. Sure that’s a good car but Toyota had forgotten how to ‘do fun’, leaning on Subaru to design it for them.

Mazda however was determined to deliver ‘driving pleasure’ to all buyers, not just those in the market for a low slung sportster. And that’s what we’ve always liked about the CX-5, an SUV with the usual practical advantages of the genre, but one that’s also a decent steer. And not just flat out, but a charming thing everyday. So for some, the addition of the 2.5-litre turbopetrol to the CX-5 is seen as a promising thing, but have they got it wrong in thinking it’s a 5 with a keener sporting bent?

Well, yes. The turbo engine is available only in the new range-topping Takami grade. This higher end offering was introduced with the revised Mazda6, and has since been added to other ranges, while for the CX-5 it sees both the 2.5T and added luxuries spliced in to spawn a classier CX-5. So, sorry if folk out there are hoping this to be some kind of CX-5 MPS, but Mazda just isn’t keen to tread down that path again.

The quality would hold up to any comparison with a Euro of a similar ask, and others costing much more

This aims for premium, pushing CX-5 into the sixties for the first time. It’s $5500 more than the 2.5 Limited, and just over $3k more than the diesel. It further overlaps the CX-5 range with that of the larger CX-8 and CX-9. But given the market’s appetite for such things, a showroom can never have too many SUV choices.

The Takami buyer will like the nicer things in life, but realise you don’t have to pay Euro premiums for the privilege. There’s not much that gives the game away on the outside, not even a Takami badge, just some understated 19s. Inside you’re greeted with Nappa leather in ‘aged Merlot’, wood dash inserts, and you’ll notice the buttons for the heated steering wheel and seat ventilators, while the main dial takes on a TFT screen.

There’s some additional interior lighting but that about does it for the Takami additions. The quality would hold up to any comparison with a Euro of a similar ask, and others costing much more. Up front the storage is only adequate but most drivers should find themselves a good position with seat and wheel adjustment in good supply.

The infotainment screen you’d call small these days, wide but lacking in height, so you don’t see much of the sat nav map. It’s controlled by a combination of the rotary knob on the centre console and touch on the screen. Mazda now incorporates CarPlay and Android Auto, and it’s best to hook these up if you prefer voice activation, as the Mazda system is primitive by comparison.


CX-5 manages to feel larger inside that its exterior dimensions would suggest. There’s good space in the rear for legs and heads, if not a great deal of cabin width, but entry is sorted via the wide opening doors.

While the boot might not be biggest in class, there’s enough space to swallow most loads and the split folding is easy too, helped via levers. We’ve always admired the way CX-5 drives, but how does it handle the extras of the 2.5 turbo? Quite comfortably, as it happens. The turbo adds 30kW compared with the atmo 2.5, but bolsters the torque numbers up from 252 to 420Nm and delivers them at half the revs of the regular four-pot.

But the CX-5 is used to handling the 450Nm of the 2.2 diesel, so it takes it in its stride. This is more about low-end ease than making the CX-5 a real speedster. Thanks to the inlet plumbing with its ‘flow control valve’ that gets the turbo spooling up early, this engine delivers its torque at revs you use most during regular driving.

It’s effortless this, with good in-gear pull around town, and on the motorway, which lends itself nicely to the premium nature of the Takami. The turbo’d CX-5 should be good for a 7.7sec 0-100km/h according to Mazda. Our test gear had a fit on the day, perhaps it was just too hot for it, or those Russians were meddling with the GPS again?

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Due to the looming deadline we couldn’t re-verify the figures, but perhaps we’ll get one back for a comparison test at some stage to measure the claim. But as we’ve mentioned, the Takami is not an MPS wannabe, and the 2.5 turbo isn’t a powerhouse, or a revver. In fact the auto will change up at 5500rpm to get back in the thick of the torque production, even when you initiate the Sport mode for the trans.

As to fuel use, the claim states 8.2L/100km while the average on the computer was 10.2. Mazda has tweaked the suspension subtly for the turbo model, but more to enhance the smoothness of the chassis than beef up the handling. And the CX-5 treads the line between ride and control nicely. While it can pick up the odd impurity on a road surface around town, for a mid-sized SUV, this feels particularly responsive and connected.

The steering is well assisted no matter the task asked, complete with Mazda’s G vectoring control plus. This software tweak for the steering is aimed at smoothing the turn for ‘average’ drivers while for others, it leads to improved precision. The plus aspect of the new set-up adds a braking function for the outside front wheel to further smooth the action.

It remains engaging, one of the few helms in this class that sends enough feedback through the rim while remaining shock- and rattle-free through rough corners. And the Takami turns sweetly, the nose tucking in obediently and holding on in there, only giving up when you’ve gone silly.

This is about the only time the electronics intervene, Mazda preferring to allow a little leeway to drivers and that’s a good thing; it lets the CX-5 flow from bend to bend. We guess there’ll be those asking whether this is needed in the range as the CX-5 Limited diesel does a great job, and this costs more.

You could argue the merits of both but it’s good to have the choice, especially for those that just don’t get diesel.

The Stats

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Model Mazda CX-5 Takami  Price $61,495

Engine 2488cc, IL4, T/DI, 170kW/420Nm

Transmission 6-speed auto, on-demand AWD

Vitals 7.7 (claim)sec 0-100km/h, 8.2L/100km, 191g/km, 1732kg

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