Mazda CX-5 Review – having a fielday

In the far off distant land that I come from, the phase ‘having a field day’ conjures up images of smiling faces and glee filled times. With its etymology based around children leaving the humdrum of school work and venturing out on an educational field trip; it’s easy to understand why it evokes such happy thoughts within. However, Fieldays has an entirely different meaning for many Kiwis – well maybe not ‘entirely’.

Throughout the year and across the country, Fieldays events bring together both Man (woman and child) and Machine (seemingly aka everything else under sun) – but non more so than the national event in Mystery Creek – Hamilton. Although initially a chance for companies to interact with the rural community, the event has grown to Goliath proportions (particularly in Hamilton) and makes for a fully immersive family fun day out – and therefore the perfect place to take Mazda’s new CX-5.

The model I got to play with was the GSX diesel, kind of middle of their pack in terms of specifications but certainly not that you’d notice. On top of the heavily (in tech and spec terms) laden GLX, it has cool features such as Active Driving Display (a flip-up head up display screen), leather-wrapped gear shift knob and steering wheel, black deluxe leatherette/suede seat trim, remote release rear seats, LED fog-lamps (needed as it we had a foggy spell), auto rain sensing wipers (needed because it rained),  and the i-ACTIVSENSE safety is expanded with Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM), Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) and Traffic Sign Recognition (TSR).

As a five seater SUV it, of course; had more space than we (of a small family) needed, but the room did come in handy, as did the ride height and i-ACTIV AWD drivetrain – the parking at fieldays is well; a muddy field surprise, surprise. The drive to Hamilton was as nondescript as always, apart from an unusual amount of roadworks, so I spent the majority of the time in control of the CX-5 (it has cruise control but not ‘active’ so I prefer to do it ‘manually’ – I’ve become such a driving aid snob). On saying that, to spice it up a little, we did utilise the Sat Nav system as we neared the Waikato hotspot and headed down a few additional rural roads, it was a good opportunity to showcase Mazda’s GVC G-Vectoring Control. I sometimes (ok make that often) get my cornering verbally corrected by a certain family member – but she didn’t seem to notice the briskness of this ride – bonus.

The CX-5’s SKYACTIV-D 2.2L in-line 4 cylinder 16 valve engine is a peach. It has a max power output of 129kW (at 4,500rpm) and max torque of 420Nm (at 2,000rpm) with the world’s lowest compression ratio 14.0:1 for this engine type (meaning less friction and inertia for higher-revving and more power). But it also has a Natural Sound Smoother and Natural Sound Frequency Control, which reduces and suppresses diesel ‘knocking noise’ and turns the engine note into a warm comforting hum, so (along with the SUV’s upgraded NVH – Noise, Vibration, Harshness) it all added up to a smooth, quiet drive.

The CX-5’s SKYACTIV-BODY hits the sweet spot between boasting high level safety in disasters such as a collision and yet is lightweight and very rigid. At the launch (a month or so back) I heard that the chassis etc is made up of ultra-high tensile steel, semi irrelevant back then but I found that knowledge reassuring going on an extended drive with the family on board. Also, the steering felt responsive and the gearing never felt lacking or hunting – it simply reaffirmed my initial thoughts and feelings about this SUV.

We arrived in good time (lunch time in fact) and were directed to park in quite a ghastly and sodden field – absolutely no issues for the CX-5 with its near 200mm ground clearance – more of a problem it would appear for my son, who found near knee deep mud almost immediately upon vehicle exit (thankfully we had a change of clothes).

We spent around three hours there, getting amongst it and to be honest a good time was had by all, returning back to the carpark on the shuttle bus quite exhausted.

Over the past several years I have made the trip to Fieldays numerous times with my young son. Admittedly it’s quite the ask to cart him down there, walk him around the expansive event (while I nag with all and sundry there) and then chauffeur him back to Auckland – invariably there are a few tantrums along the way. But my ever knowledgeable wife had the foresight to pack the tablet (electronic rather than sleep), and when plugged into one of the 2 x USB charging ports meant not a squeak was heard from the rear seats.

There is no doubt that the National Fieldays is an event that is well worth attending. It’s not all sheep dip and cow milking, it’s a place to get very interactive with all manner of machinery and technological advancements. There are a multitude of displays and food almost everywhere you look. It’s a place to give your Welly’s a down and dirty workout and regardless of the weather it’s an event for all the family. But I must say, that the whole excursion was enhanced with the assistance of the all new CX-5. With its reported 6L/100k’s fuel efficiency it barely made a dent in the fuel tank, the upmarket (and connected) cabin made us feel a little more special, I was safe in the knowledge that the Mazda i-ACTIVSENSE was taking care of business behind the scenes and the GVC meant that the normal whine from the passenger seat was muted.

Thanks Mazda, we had a Field Day!

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