Remember the Mazda6 2.5 turbo we tested last year? Well, that engine is now available in the grocery-gettin’ CX-5. Australia’s favourite SUV finally receives turbo power.

2019 Mazda CX-5 2.5 Turbo GT: What is it?

If you don’t know what the CX-5 is you must have been living under a rock for the past 10 years. It’s only the most popular SUV currently on sale. It topped the sales charts last year, the year before, then the year before that, and probably the year before that, out-selling any other SUV on the new car market.

Up until now though the only turbo engine you could get for it was a diesel. This example you see here is the GT variant, which sits just below the flagship Akera. Prices in Australia start at $46,970, before on-road costs.

2019 Mazda CX-5 2.5 Turbo GT: What does it come with?

The GT comes with plenty. It’s basically the top model, aside from a few extra garnishes that you get with the Akera. But there’s still leather seats, Mazda’s awesome MZD Connect media screen and hand controller thingy, sat-nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a set of 19-inch alloy wheels. Oh, there’s also a fantastic 10-speaker Bose sound system that you can blast your tunes through.

Like most new Mazdas, the seats are really comfortable and supportive in the CX-5 GT. They are smallish seats though, so if you’re a bit fat it might seem like you’re sitting in a Coke bottle lid, depending on the severity of your girth. There’s plenty of space around your head and legs though, for normal-sized individuals anyway. And if you’re extra tall there’s a standard sunroof that you can poke your head out of.

All of the controls and dials look and feel of very high quality. Mazda isn’t regarded as a premium manufacturer but you’d be none the wiser for thinking otherwise. It’s really premium in here. The leather is soft, the knobs have a sturdy metallic construction, and it’s all very quiet and serene the moment you chuck-oop the doors shut.

Cargo space doesn’t set the market standards. There are other medium-size SUVs out there that offer more room. This doesn’t mean the CX-5 is cramped, though. With 442L expanding to 1342L with the rear seats folded down, you’d need to be hauling something huge to desire more space. The floor is flat and there’s extra pockets and little sections to keep smaller items from bouncing around.

2019 Mazda CX-5 2.5 Turbo GT: Fun factor

Well, this is the medium SUV class. The word ‘fun’ isn’t usually associated here. However, with the 2.5-litre turbo engine it certainly doesn’t hurt the CX-5’s quite high reputation for sportiness. Like in other models with this engine, here it produces 170kW. While most 2.0-litre turbo units in the industry at the moment offer around 180kW, they usually top out at 350Nm. Thanks to the extra 500cc you get a chunky 420Nm. This isn’t far off the twin-turbo diesel model’s 450Nm. And remember Mazda reckons if you run it on 98 RON fuel that power figure shoots up to 184kW.

We tested out the 0-100km/h sprint for you and our best result was 7.55 seconds. This is definitely quick enough for this class of vehicle and in this price range. If feels brisk off the line, with no evidence of turbo-lag throughout the rev range. It doesn’t rev particularly high, rather, preferring to use a strong mid-range pull to get the work done. Maximum torque is available from just 2000rpm.

Around corners the CX-5 feels good. You get to play with an awesome little three-spoke sports steering wheel, and the snug seating position makes it feel more hot hatch than soccer mum car. Obviously you are dealing with a tallish vehicle, so the centre of gravity isn’t ideal for switching directions at the drop of a hat. But it holds on well and doesn’t feel completely uncomfortable doing so, like in some SUVs.

We’d say the CX-5 is one of the best SUVs for sporty driving, even though this segment isn’t entirely about that. That’s about as good of a compliment as you can get. Not only that, the CX-5 is an excellent runaround vehicle. It’s easy to park and see out of, with a supple ride helping to soak up Australia’s ordinary roads. It hasn’t received any Australian testing like what Hyundai does with its vehicles, but Mazda has found an excellent balance to cover all conditions.

2019 Mazda CX-5 2.5 Turbo GT: Should you buy one?

Thousands of consumers can’t be wrong. There’s a reason the CX-5 is so popular. It drives really nicely and feels like a premium product, especially in GT form. We are a fan of the low-end grunt of the turbo engine. It definitely gives the CX-5 an energetic new personality. About the only minor concern is that the engine isn’t exactly the most fuel efficient in the class. With an official average of 8.2L/100 and our tested figure of more like 9-10L/100km, it becomes a challenge to pick this or the torquey twin-turbo diesel. Either way you won’t be disappointed.

How does it rate against rivals?
  • Practicality
  • Engine and gearbox
  • Cornering talent
  • Engine sound
  • Value for money

Final word

Mazda really has struck gold with the CX-5. It has found that perfect sweet spot in the market that caters for a huge audience. With the turbo engine it’s not only attractive to mums thanks to its practicality and ease of driving, but the performance should lure in the dads, too. The interior even goes some way to bring in younger generations thanks to its innovative and high-tech media interface and suave decor.

I like to think that I'm a car fanatic, but more of a driving fanatic. There's nothing better than getting out onto the open road, almost regardless of the car, and enjoying dancing with the controls and gathering up the moving scenery. If I'm not driving I'm either at the gym or sinking a few beers with friends.