Funny how things change in a matter of months. Since Mazda launched the diesel-powered CX-5 Skyactiv-D back in July last year, the prices of petrol (RON 95) and diesel (Euro 5) have appreciated by well over 30%. Over the same period, the world also witnessed the proliferation of fake news and a former reality show host with dodgy hair and a perpetual orange tan become the leader of the free world.
Sadly, we are powerless to do anything about the latter, but the turn of events on the local front means that the diesel-powered Mazda CX-5 is now that much more compelling than when it was launched, even after the next-generation replacement been unveiled to the world.
After having a go at both, we can confirm what you may already know – the front-wheel-driven 2.2-litre Skyactiv-D CX-5 easily trumps a similarly-equipped, petrol-powered 2.5-litre FWD equivalent (with near identical equipment and tyre sizes) for real-world fuel efficiency. If Mazda’s trip computers are to be believed, the 185hp CX-5 2.5-petrol will return an average of 10km/l (1L/100km) while the diesel never seems to dip below 12.5km/l (8L/100km), this despite being driven primarily in the city.
For ease of illustration, let’s assume a relatively modest mileage of 1,000km a month for both variants of the CX-5, which translates to 100 litres of petrol and 80 litres of diesel used, or a monthly expense of RM230 (petrol) and RM180 (diesel) based on prevailing fuel prices of RM2.30 per litre of RON95 petrol and RM2.25 of Euro 5 diesel. So right off the bat, the diesel is saving RM50 per month over the same distance, or RM600 per annum at minimum, more if your profession involves lots of road trips.
More than just the math
Of course, what the numbers don’t show are the subjective returns of the diesel CX-5. This is not to diss the petrol version which is arguably the best to steer among its Japanese petrol-powered rivals, but having 420Nm at just 2,000rpm (as opposed to just 250Nm at 3250rpm for the 2.5-litre) means the diesel is significantly more responsive where and when it matters. That a mid-sized SUV requires so little effort to get going is a satisfying sensation on its own, the performance of the six-speed automatic transmission is also more relaxed with fewer downshifts required, not to mention a driver who’s probably going to feel a lot more confident when making a pass on slower-moving vehicles.
Okay, diesel clatter is naturally present but it’s surprisingly muted in the CX-5 even if you have the windows down. The four-cylinder revs smoothly and cleanly, though the engine note is one of monotony, but in an age where direct injection petrol engines barely sound better, this is no loss.
That said, we are not oblivious to the fact that the diesel CX-5 also costs around RM7,000 more than the petrol 2.5-litre, but for all of the above, we think it’s a fair premium to pay for the diesel-powered CX-5, which by the way also tacks on two additional active safety features, namely autonomous emergency braking and blind spot monitoring.
The CX-5 isn’t without a few inadequacies; its interior packaging can’t quite measure up to a Honda CR-V or the Nissan X-Trail, and those 19-inch alloys, while looking sharp and complement the still handsome exterior well, will return a fidgety ride over poor surfaces. But thanks to the introduction of the excellent Skyactive-D diesel engine and its inherent dynamic handling qualities, Mazda’s best-selling SUV (ever) remains relevant, even persuasive at the twilight of its model life.
Price: RM164,179.10 (incl. GST, w/o insurance)
Engine: 2.2-litre, four-cylinder, Diesel, FWD
Output: 173hp @ 4500rpm, 420Nm @ 2000rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Performance: 0-100km/h in 10.0 seconds, top speed 195km/h (estimated)
Wheels/tyres: 19in alloys, 225/55 R19
Safety: 6 airbags, Electronic Stability Control
Warranty: 3-year/100,000km (incl. 3-year/60,000km maintenance)