Mazda CX-5: One of the best compact SUVs for Lebanon’s roads

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We took the 2017 Mazda CX-5 for a test drive in Beirut and Mount Lebanon’s tough roads, and here is what we thought!

A.N Boukather, Mazda’s exclusive distributor in Lebanon, had the courtesy of offering BelleBeirut a two-day test drive of the 2017 Mazda CX-5, the Japanese automakers’ revamped crossover SUV. As someone who had never driven a Mazda before, I did not really know what to expect from the car – other than the fact that previous models were known to be somewhat noisy. Little did I know that I was about to have one of the most mesmerizing driving experiences ever.

The look

The 2017 Mazda CX-5 boasts a very seductive front thanks to a massive concave grill and slim LED headlights that accentuate the car’s width while giving it a sharp and aggressive look. The eye-catching ergonomic interior is made from high-quality materials, with a beautiful dashboard and a practical cockpit. The car’s modern OBC linked to a 7-inch touch screen is very easy to use, providing much needed and useful information about the car.

I found the seats to be very comfortable and the quality of the steering wheel leather gives way for a perfect grip, especially for tough corners. Other than that, there is very adequate space for the passenger, and the two rear seats. I was able to install my 1-year old son’s car seat (he really enjoyed the ride) and have his mother comfortably seated next to him while we went for a drive around Beirut. What I also really loved, was how easy it is to fold the rear seats and expand the trunk space from the trunk itself.

The feel

Handling is most certainly the Mazda CX-5’s most impressive feature, along with the extremely quiet ride (A.N Boukather explained it was something the Japanese automaker focused on improving in this new model). Despite how quiet it is, the 2.5-liter engine delivers extremely well, especially on Mount Lebanon’s curvy roads, providing almost 187 horsepower and 185 lb-ft of torque. The engine channels power to the CX-5’s drive wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission (I would have loved to use it with paddle shifters on the steering wheel, alas it was not an option for this test drive). The car’s suspension made the drive very smooth (we do have our share of bumpy roads in Lebanon), and I felt a real difference compared to other SUVs I have previously driven.

The technology

The 2017 Mazda CX-5 is fully equipped with state of the art technology both under the hood and inside the car. This takes the driving experience to another level. I especially loved the positioning of the climate, radio, and OBC controls – the design somehow reminded me of Porsche’s interior design – yet with a less aggressive mood. Under the hood, Mazda’s G-Vectoring Control technology that briefly reduces engine torque at turn-in to transfer load to the front axle, made quite a big difference in the steering response. The adaptive cruise control, optional Head-up display, USB jacks (front and rear), rear camera, heated seats, and blind spot detection (optional) are the icing on the cake.

Overall, I can safely say that the 2017 Mazda CX-5 is an exceptionally well-balanced SUV that manages to blend driver engagement with passenger comfort. A must for Lebanon’s roads. I highly recommend it for young drivers who are looking for a safe SUV, with great technology and a very appealing look and feel.