So, I went to the Mazda dealer to have Minako, my ever-faithful 2013 Mazda 3 serviced, and I saw what was, to my knowledge, a unicorn that I just had to drive...
That's right, the three-pedal edition Mazda CX-5! (Lack of pics, because I was lazy at the time.)
Exterior - 7/10
It's attractive, even moreso in Soul Red. I actually really like the looks, but I can't give it any higher, when I like the 3 and 6 so much more. However, it's definitely the best looking in its class.
I like how most of the controls are intuitively placed, especially for someone coming out of a last-gen 3. The seats are incredibly comfortable, even moreso than my 3, but I can't get over the high seating position. I feel like I'm on top of the car, rather than inside it.
Okay, it's not nearly as quick as my (lighter) 3 with the same engine and gearbox, but it moves adequately quick for my needs. The gearing is a touch on the wide side for 2-4, IMHO, but that's a minor quirk.
It has brakes, they work very well and the pedal felt nice and linear. Again, not as sharp as my 3, but it's also a bigger vehicle.
It's plush, too plush. Coming out of my lowered 3, it felt like I was floating on air, rather than on the road, and I think the high aspect ratio Yokohamas helped with that feeling.
It's a Mazda, and as such, it really is, in my opinion, the best-handling of the cute-utes. They really did a good job with the handling, but I felt it was way, way too high and it felt a little more wallowy than I would like. Again, I drive a lowered 3 hatch, so I'm not exactly the target market, but I'd put the CS lowering springs, rear bar and sticky tires on it, ASAP, if it were mine.
The gearing, as mentioned before, is decent, even if 2, 3 and 4 are spaced a little wider than I like. My only complaints are that the shift knob is about 1.5" too low, relative to the seat height, and the throws are a hair on the long side. Shorter, tighter throws and a lower driver's seat would make rowing my own, way more enjoyable.
Is it too much to ask, to get Bluetooth on the stripped out, no frills manual model? My 3 has Bluetooth, and it was the most basic, no-frills hatch I could get. Why cannot ALL the Mazdas have standard Bluetooth. Past that, other than the three pedals, the toys are adequate, but nothing to write home about. No automatic climate control, no Bluetooth. Meh.
The radio is a solid performer and it does its job with a minimum of fuss. However, the engine needs a bit more growl. (Mazda, if you're reading this, axe the mufflers in the rear and put in a single resonator. It will make it sound quite a bit better.)
As far as small SUVs go, the CX-5 is a good, solid performer and the price is actually reasonable. It just needs Bluetooth on the stripped model, and I'd be happy. Ecstatic, even. (Mazda, are you listening???)
A solid performer; but the 3 and 6 are still better cars. If we could get the 2.5L with AWD and a manual, it'd be a much, much better pick. Hell, just the 2.5.. And Bluetooth... Mazda, are you listening????
Engine: 2.0L Petrol
Power: 155 HP at 6,000 RPM/ 150 LB-FT at 4,000 RPM
Transmission: Six-Speed Manual
Curb Weight: 3,194lbs
MPG: 26 City/35 Highway/29 Combined