They say a change is as good as a rest, and I reckon that adage is particularly true when it comes to cars.
I’m not suggesting everyone should be trading in their cars every six months – though I’m sure many a local dealer would appreciate it if I did. What I’m talking about is how, even after a few days spent in a different car, the things you like about your normal daily driver suddenly become apparent.
It can be a big, obvious thing – like how much fuel it’s drinking, or how handy it is for squeezing in extra long flat packs when you get a bit carried away in IKEA – or it can be something you wouldn’t even think about until it’s suddenly not there anymore.
Last month for example, I had a week in one of the CX-5’s sworn enemies – sorry, capable rivals – the Kia Sportage. It’s objectively a great car, as you’d expect from Kia these days, and arguably a bit more up to date than the older Mazda too, with its hybrid powertrain options and perky turbocharged engines. But for all the Sportage’s techno-wizardry, it was on occasion plain infuriating.
One of Kia’s latest inventions is a touch-sensitive climate control panel that, with the tap of a virtual button, also doubles up as controls for the radio, sat nav and so on. Sounds great – until you realise that, at any given moment, it’s probably displaying the opposite of the thing you want it to display.
No such dramas in the CX-5. Coming back to Mazda’s tactile buttons, switches and dials feels like sitting down at home and picking up your usual TV remote: so instinctive that you don’t even realise you’ve spent 20 minutes watching Gregg Wallace shout ‘wow’ at workers in a crisp factory. Or maybe that’s just me.
Then we move on to Lane Keep Assist. Most cars have it these days, including the CX-5, and it’s a clever safety feature. However, here in Britain with our dodgy lane markings and temporary contraflows, the ‘active’ version of this (where the car physically lurches the steering wheel back into the lane for you) can be a bit of a nightmare.
Generally speaking, there’s no way to ‘permanently’ disable this in most cars. Ask it to stop, and as a fun surprise, it’ll immediately enable itself again the next time you get back in the car. In the Mazda though, I turned this feature off when the car arrived, and it’s obeyed my wishes and remained off ever since. Imagine that.
The CX-5 has dozens of handy little details like that. On the face of it, they sound small and inconsequential, but collectively they’re anything but.
I like the fact that, from the key fob, not only can you open the boot, but close it too. An Audi Q5 doesn’t let you do that – why not?
I like that the back seats fold themselves down with a pair of quick-release handles in the boot. Where’s that option in a VW Tiguan?
I like that the parcel shelf moves itself out of the way as you open the boot lid. Why doesn’t it do that in Toyota RAV4?
I could go on – so I will. I like that the wireless phone charger – which works very well, by the way – is set at such an angle that your phone doesn’t break free and stop charging when you go around a corner.
These might all sound like small insignificances, but day to day they make a big difference. And besides, I know people that have bought specific cars for lesser reasons than the above.
To make up for cheating on the CX-5 with a lesser Korean rival, I’ve also taken the Mazda for a service at the local dealer – in this case, Brayley in Milton Keynes. As you’d expect, everything went smoothly – from booking online only two days before, to the complementary wash it was treated to on departure.
With that sorted, we’re ready for a few more months of adventures – and the opportunity to unearth even more things to like about the car.