When I used to work for TVR we noticed a sharp spike in cars coming in for crash repair immediately after the first spell of good weather of the year. Every April, the gnarled old foreman would nod sagely and opine that it was all down to what he referred to as “Sunshine Sheilas”. I’m not sure if the Association of British Insurers has ever studied the effect of the first summer frock of the season on the average male driver. But extensive, and selfless if I might say so, research has proved to me that I am personally 87 per cent more likely to crash into the car in front if the lady on the pavement is displaying a bit more leg.
It is therefore a cause for celebration that those brainy fellows at Mazda are fitting something called Smart City Brake Support as standard to their new mid-size 4×4: the Mazda CX-5. The idea is that, if you are bimbling along at anything up to 20mph and your concentration is somehow adversely affected, it will detect a stationary object in front of you and apply the brakes sufficiently forcefully to bring you to a halt in time. It even sort of works.
As the launch event came to its conclusion at the rather splendid Torridon Hotel in the West Highlands, a large blue plastic wall was erected in the car park and the assembled hacks were told to do one lap of the fountain and drive towards it. When my turn came, I blithely drove straight towards – and into it. Another go with the PR chaps standing a little further back had the same result. By this time a small crowd of hotel staff had gathered and eventually the gadget worked exactly as advertised, much to everyone’s relief.
The Mazda CX-5 is lighter than its competitors and a refined engine makes it more fuel efficient.
The rest of the Mazda CX-5 works rather better. Mazda have made a virtue out of being a Japanese car manufacturer for far longer than any of their competitors, and are now making a virtue out of not being quite big enough to be able to afford to develop their own Plug in Hybrid. As a result, they have designed the Mazda CX-5 with what they call SKYACTIV technology, or what the rest of us might call jolly clever stuff.
It is lighter than its competitors; its wondrously refined engines are 10 per cent more efficient, and even its gearboxes have been designed to help the car feel sportier, emit less CO2 and consume less fuel. And bless my soul if that doesn’t make for a really good car. On the challenging roads of the Applecross Peninsula it felt even better than the Subaru Forrester I wrote about a few months back. Back on the A roads on the way into Inverness I got the average fuel consumption over 60mpg, which is nothing short of outstanding for a 4×4 of this size.
The Mazda CX-5 is a great addition to an unfortunately congested area of the marketplace but, if you’re looking for a £25 to £30k SUV, it should be on your shopping list. If you’re easily distracted, it should be right at the top.
Specifications for the Mazda CX-5
2.2 Sport Nav 175PS
Top speed: 129mph
0-60mph: 8.8 seconds
Ben Samuelson is the managing director of PR and events agency Samuelson Wylie Associates. Follow him on Twitter at: twitter.com/bensamuelson