Exclusive: We Test the Mazda CX-5 Diesel, the CX-5 of the Future!

Published on December 8, 2016 in First Drives by Marc-André Gauthier

Mazda has just unveiled an updated version of its CX-5, which will boast the G-Vectoring Control torque management system and a diesel engine in addition to the current gasoline engines.

On our most recent visit to Japan we jumped at the chance to try the CX-5 diesel and it knocked our socks off right from the outset. But wait! We should clarify that we tested the 2016 CX-5 diesel, which is, in most respects, the same as the current-generation model we already have in Canada. We should also clarify that the engine specs listed below are for the Japanese version. When the CX-5 diesel makes it way to our side of the Pacific, we expect its numbers to be similar, but since our environmental standards are stricter, its performance could be more conservative.

A vastly improved experience thanks to the engine
We’re already very well acquainted with the current-generation Mazda CX-5. We know this SUV offers a nice, sporty ride, but both four-cylinder engines presently available, a 2.0-litre and a 2.5, leave some performance-oriented drivers wanting more.

We’re obviously looking forward to the updated version in 2017, with the G-Vectoring Control and all, but the diesel option is what’s really capturing people’s imaginations, and rightfully so.

In Japan, we got to try the 2016 CX-5 diesel, which looks the same as the gas-powered Canadian version, right down to the identical engine cover, but there’s a SKYACTIV-D logo on the back. D for diesel.

This 2.2-litre four-cylinder engine is really interesting, with up to 173 horsepower and 310 lb.-ft. of torque. We say “up to” because the power varies from market to market depending on legal restrictions.

Safe passing
Paired with a six-speed automatic transmission, this engine impressed us right off the bat, especially since it makes manoeuvres so easy. While the power is nothing to write home about—the 2017 CR-V has a 190-horsepower turbo engine—the torque is something else! You barely have to touch the CX-5’s accelerator and you’re propelled forward with conviction. On the highway, the torque lets you pass other vehicles safely and confidently.

Apart from being more fun to drive than the two gas versions, the diesel engine is, most importantly, fuel efficient. We drove with no attention to the environment and still recorded an average of 6.6 L/100 km. On the new CR-V, the meter displayed 7.3 L/100 km.

In Japan, Mazda sells its diesel engines as performance engines and are hinting that the future Mazdaspeed3 could be a diesel. Is this what’s in store for North America?

In any case, this diesel engine will be available in the next CX—and it’s awesome. Plus, if you take in account the various improvements promised for the 2017 model, Mazda is on the road to a resounding success.

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