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A Breath of Fresh Air: The Mazda CX-5

August 31, 2011 by Matt

2013 Mazda CX-5

Mazda’s all-new entry in the saturated small SUV class, the CX-5 bows next year as a welcome vanguard of the automaker’s new styling direction. Car and Driver reports:

The previous Nagare (“wind-driven flow”) theme that gave us more ear-to-ear grins than we really needed is heretofore supplanted by Kodo—a less flamboyant, more tasteful “soul of motion” appearance. Where the CX-5 goes stylistically, other Mazdas will follow.

As odd as it seems for a small SUV to be leading its company’s design direction, at this point, those of us battle-weary from the aesthetic jarring of seeing the Mazda 3 schnoz on the commute home will take visual relief any way we can get it. I actually think Mazda went above the call of duty and penned a very shapely and distinctive little car, one that will stand out in a forest of antiseptic Honda Pilots, Kia Sportages and Ford Escapes.

2013 Mazda CX-5 Interior

While the styling is sure to be well-received, as will be the handling (Mazda’s forte), the new powertrain philosophy the automaker is introducing with the CX-5 is a less sure bet. Instead of releasing a fashionable hybrid or turbo-diesel, Mazda has opted to focus on refining their traditional engines to remarkable levels of efficiency, with carefully optimized internals and peripherals that wring maximum mileage out of conventional processes. While it’s an admirable goal, I do wonder whether Mazda is either:

  1. Making the best of a bad situation, not having the resources or capital to develop either a hybrid or diesel powertrain, or
  2. Somehow betting that the current phase of alternative propulsion is just a fad, and hoping to jump on the train at the next station, so to speak, by anticipating whatever will come next.

I’ll be keeping an eye on the response to both Mazda’s styling and propulsion choices. I hope for their sake—and for the prospects of any future rotary-powered Mazda sports car—that their gambles pay off.

Update (3:24 p.m.): Automotive News reports that a diesel engine option will be added to the lineup for the 2014 model year. Still no word of a hybrid, though…

Filed under: Mazda, News

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