A Sharper Ride
Richard Augustin 
The Mazda CX-5 has struck a chord with local buyers.

The Mazda CX-5 has been an outstanding success story for the Japanese carmaker. Built on the back of SKYACTIV technology and KODO design language, the popular SUV helped contribute to Mazda’s global sales volume, which has increased 17% over the last three years.

Impressively, it sold over 1.5 million cars across all model ranges in the fiscal year that ended last March. Over the same period, sales in Asean have also grown approximately 41%. This is certainly a tremendous upswing for a car brand that not too long ago struggled to compete with Honda, Toyota and Nissan.

But Mazda’s revival is deserving. By creating desirable products and focusing efforts on bankable segments, the automaker has become a serious contender in the last few years. The CX-5 is a good example of Mazda’s reinvigorated strategy as it arrived just in time to capitalise on the thriving SUV segment.

Introduced globally in 2012, the CX-5 was a model hailed for its good design and handling as well as a host of desirable features coupled with an affordable price point. A local assembly programme was established in 2013 with Bermaz Motors, the official distributor of Mazda in Malaysia, and the CX-5 immediately struck a chord with local buyers. This positive sentiment is certain to continue with the arrival of the second-generation CX-5, which has just been officially launched here.

Driving up to Kulim, Kedah where the vehicles are being made at the Inokom plant, it is rather ironic to find ourselves behind the wheel of the first generation CX-5, which will soon be put out to pasture. The diesel model we are handed the keys to is spirited and, despite its age, still boasts wide market appeal to rival other marques.

But neither Mazda nor Bermaz are resting on their laurels. They appear to be banking heavily on this region by investing no less than ¥2.3bil (RM86.3 mil) to strengthen the production system in Kulim and building an exclusive paint shop for new designer body colours and to automate part of the body-welding process.

These measures not only align with the new technologies with Mazda factories in western Japan but also help boost Mazda operations in the region. For now, the CX-5 made in Malaysia is also exported to Thailand. Moving forward, the company plans to ship the model to the Philippines, Indonesia, Cambodia and Myanmar. Judging by the new CX-5, which sports a stunning and vibrant Soul Red Crystal colour scheme, it is hard to argue against the investment.

The new colour joins two additional options, Machine Grey and Snow Flake White Pearl Mica, for the new CX-5. But the new premium colour scheme is not the only thing that’s turning heads. Taking styling cues from its CX-9 sibling, the CX-5 now boasts a sharper, sportier and bolder design. The SUV has a more powerful-looking front with sleeker lamps and a larger grille. It also benefits from a coupe-like silhouette, which will undoubtedly draw in the younger crowd.

Inside, the cabin exudes a more luxurious feel complete with an improved interior layout design. The model now sports standard features such as electronic parking brake, six airbags, dual-zone automatic air-conditioning, rear air-conditioning vents, three 12-volt power outlets, four USB ports, MZD Connect infotainment system with voice command with six audio speakers, and reverse camera.

Bermaz is offering a total of five variants of the new model for Malaysia. The five-seater model consists of three engine variants – 2.0-litre petrol, a 2.5-litre petrol, and 2.2-litre diesel – in two-wheel drive configurations with only the top-of-the-line diesel offers an All-Wheel Drive. All models are paired with a six-speed SkyActiv-Drive automatic transmission.

Retailing at less than RM180,000, Mazda should have no issue handing out the keys to buyers. There is also no doubt that this SUV will steal some of the thunder away from the new Honda CR-V, especially since it also comes with a rather extensive list of extras that includes G-Vectoring Control (GVC) and i-Stop Idling technology, along with a full suite of i-Activsense safety technology and driver aids for higher spec models.


Mazda Cx-5 2.0L
Gl Skyactiv-G (Base Model)
Engine: Skyactiv -G 2.0L Dohc, 16-Valve 4-Cyclinder with VVT, capacity 1998cc
Transmission: Skyactiv Drive, 6 Speed Auto with Manual Shift Mode
Drivetrain: 2Wd
Max Output: 162 hp @ 6000 rpm
Max Torque: 210 Nm @ 4000 rpm
Fuel Consumption: 6.8 L/100Km
Price: RM134,605 (OTR without insurance)

Mazda Cx-5 2.2L

Gls Skyactiv-D Awd (Top Range)
Engine: Skyactiv -D 2.2L Dohc 16-Valve 4-Cylinder, Capacity 2191cc
Transmission: Skyactiv Drive 6 Speed Auto with Manual Shift Mode
Drivetrain: Awd
Max Output: 173 hp @ 4500 rpm
Max Torque: 420 Nm @ 2000 rpm
Fuel Consumption: 6.2 L/100Km
Price: RM175,179 (OTR without Insurance)

This article first appeared in Focus Malaysia Issue 254.