I think I need to apologise to the poor Mazda this month. While everyone else’s cars have been gallivanting around sunny holiday destinations over the summer, my CX-5 has spent its summer at such illustrious haunts as the Kettering branch of Wickes, loaded up with topsoil and timber.
Rather than actually go anywhere fun while the weather is nice, I’ve been (somewhat foolhardily) standing out in the baking sun ‘improving’ my distinctly suburban garden. In the process, that’s meant turning the Mazda into a miniature Jewsons lorry – loading it up with everything from compost, gravel and railway sleepers, to about half a ton of claggy earth and desiccated shrubs.
None of that makes for particularly interesting reading, I’m afraid – though I could now pen a few hundred words on the intricacies of planting a large olive tree – but it does demonstrate how eminently usable the CX-5 is for all the boring, often grubby tasks that it’s easy to forget we have to do every few months.
It’s also come as a surprise just how much can be squeezed into the Mazda’s deceptively large interior. In the grand scheme of things the CX-5 isn’t a big car – it’s only 10 centimetres longer than the 3 hatchback, for example – and certainly doesn’t feel enormous when negotiating into a parking space.
There are plenty of nice touches when it comes to load lugging too, which certainly helps when you’re hoisting 10 bags of potting grit out of a Homebase trolley. Folding the seats is incredibly faff-free, activated by a pair of release handles built into the sides of the boot. No awkward reaching around necessary – if you’re feeling particularly lazy, you needn’t even remove the parcel shelf.
Seats folded, you’ll find a (mostly) flat boot floor and load lip too – sounds trivial, but some manufacturers still can’t nail it. Joy of joys, there’s a downward-facing light built into the boot lid too – meaning you can still see what you’re doing, even when the boot itself is rammed with 30 lavender plants (don’t ask).
Before Mazda reads this and enacts a mission to extract their car from my clutches, I should say it’s not all been trudges to muddy garden centre and back. I’ve been piling on the motorway miles over the last few weeks too, and to my surprise, the petrol CX-5 has been a great companion.
Now look: if long distances drives are your thing, a petrol-powered, manual gearbox-equipped CX-5 isn’t going to be the most obvious choice. But regardless of the powertrain, the car itself makes light work of big drives. The seats are supple and supportive, road and wind noise are kept at bay, and the high driving position gives you a commanding view of the road ahead.
The cherry on the cake in our car is the 10-speaker Bose stereo, which is now standard only on top-spec GT Sport cars owing to some chip shortages. It’s well worth having – assuming you can get your hands on a CX-5 that has it fitted.
I will reiterate, mind, that our car’s 2.0-litre petrol doesn’t offer what you might call relaxing progress. The best – and only – way to coax it into life is with some vigorous gear changes: great fun if you’re on a country lane, but a bit tiring if you’re entering your third hour in traffic on the M6.
It is at least economical though: 40mpg is easily achievable, and unlike in a small turbocharged petrol engine, you don’t have to treat the throttle pedal with the delicacy of a church mouse for fear of suddenly burning half a gallon of fuel.
A handy bonus too, as I discovered when I hopped out with the engine running the other day, is that the exhaust note sounds just like an MX-5. Sometimes, it’s the little things that keep you going…