Two litres and 155hp is enough for most vehicles. Compact car? Fine. Early Miata with a feathery 1,000kg curb weight? Stupendous.
However, bolt that kind of power to a modern crossover and you'll have a hard time finding the fun. When Mazda launched its first generation CX-5 last year, it claimed punchy power from their small-bore four-cylinder
- but there was something lacking.
Turns out the hot-rodders were right, there's no replacement for displacement. For the 2014 model year, Mazda has outfitted the mid-and top-level trims of the CX-5 crossover with a 2.5L engine.
That's only a pint's-worth more shove, so does it make a difference?
First off, a quick overview of everything to like about the old car. Mazda's clean-sheet design elbows its way solidly into the crowded crossover market with a return to appealing style.
In many ways, Mazda isn't a direct competitor to mainstream brands like Honda, Toyota and Nissan. It could be argued that the stylized M-badge denotes the Japanese equivalent of Volkswagen - not necessarily a luxury brand, but perhaps still a premium one.
Sitting as it does on 19" alloy wheels, my GT-level tester certainly looks like it costs more than your average CR-V or RAV-4 people-hauler. Mazda's new design-language is called Kodo: Soul of Motion, or something silly like that. Never mind the PR department's relentless need to label everything with froofy names - this is a handsome little trucklet and should age well in the manner of the 2004-2008 Mazda3.
For those of you who immediately thought, "19inch alloy wheels? How much is a set of snow-tires that big gonna cost?", good point. However, while replacing the factory all-season rubber isn't going to be inexpensive, smaller alloys or steel rims will clear the brakes if you want to run a second winter set, and the mid-line GS comes with the more-sensible 17"s.
"Business-like" or "gloomy": pick your adjective. In black, the interior of the CX-5 is very typically Mazda in terms of its no-nonsense layout and conservative use of colours.
Again, think VW-competitor, Spartan, with just a modicum of piano-black trim. There's plenty of space and the greenhouse provides decent visibility, perhaps better than average for a crossover. However, Mazda primarily builds cars for drivers, so much like the Mazda6, this is a cockpit-like feel, rather than a cruiser's cabin.
Rear seat passengers will have solid leg and head room, and test-fitting a rear-facing child seat still left space for my 5'11" driving position. Like most small crossovers, two child or booster seats will pretty much eliminate the possibility of a middle-seat passenger, but three adults could squeeze in for a quick trip.
Mazda has gone with a 40/20/40 split on the rear seat, which allows for a considerable amount of flexibility in cargo hauling.
The hatchback has only a moderate slope to it, so overall behind-seat capacity is already good, and the option of folding down the center section to hold skis and the like is pretty handy.