04 April 2019
David Linklater | Waikato Times
Can a mainstream family SUV convince as a premium model?
That's what the CX-5 Takami aims to do, writes David Linklater.
From small beginnings, Mazda's luxury-oriented "Takami" brand is growing across the Japanese maker's model range.
The Mazda6 was first, but there are also now Takami versions of the CX-9, CX-3 - and this new CX-5.
Takami means 'turbocharged', right?
Nice try and not far off. Takami models mostly do have turbo power.
The unique selling proposition of the Mazda6 Takami was the addition of the 2.5-litre turbo engine from the CX-9.
The CX-9 Takami has the turbo engine too, although every other Nine does as well.
The CX-3 Takami doesn't, of course, because it's too small to take that big powerplant. Be pretty quick if it could.
That brings us to the CX-5, which is surely the most significant of Mazda's Takami models.
It's a medium SUV, which is the most important new-vehicle segment in New Zealand.
And like the Mazda6, the CX-5 Takami brings that 2.5-litre turbo engine to its model range for the first time. You can't have this powerplant in any other CX-5.
So it's pretty quick, right?
Compared with the standard CX-5 2.5-litre, yes. With an extra 30kW/ 168Nm over the naturally aspirated models, the Takami knocks two seconds off the 0-100kmh time: 7.7 seconds.
Thing is, it doesn't seem it because the engine is so smooth.
It certainly doesn't feel like a turbo: there's virtually no lag and virtually no surge of acceleration.
It just powers away in supremely linear fashion.
Deeply impressive, although don't expect quite the same lithe feel as the Mazda6 Takami. The CX-5 is 100kg heavier and with a higher centre of TURN TO PAGE 6 FROM PAGE 5 gravity, it's that little bit less involving than its sedan sibling.
Why mention the Six at all?
Because it was the first Takami, it's very much the sedan equivalent of the CX-5. And it's awesome.
What else is there to tempt us?
Extra go is nice, but the Takami grade is really all about luxury touches.
Like the CX-5's performance, those high-end touches are pretty subtle. The most obvious is the Aged Merlot Nappa leather upholstery, which is both extremely soft and a bold colour choice. Which we like.
The front seats are not only heated (as in the Limited) but ventilated as well. The heating also extends to the steering wheel and rear chairs in the Takami.
There are classy looking real wood trim inserts and black headlining, LED interior lights (more of them than you get in the Limited) and a seven-inch multiinformation display in the instrument panel that's unique to this model.
The CX-5 cabin is a cut above the competition anyway. Takami specification really does take it to another level; it's very classy and tactile.
Excuse the statusconsciousness, but why doesn't it have a 'Takami' badge?
Good question. One answer might be that the Mazda Takami models are all about class and a crass badge wouldn't suit.
In fact, the only way you can tell a CX-5 Takami from a Limited on the outside is by the high-gloss alloy wheels - although they're still the same 19-inch rim and tyre size.
A second, more pragmatic answer is that "Takami" is purely a Mazda NZ thing. There's no such specification available globally from the factory, although there are a varied range of high-end models.
So what we know as the Mazda6 or CX-9 Takami are called Signature models in the United States.
Australia calls its CX-5 Takami equivalent Akera, or in other countries you just buy a "CX-5 turbo".
None of this would stop Mazda NZ slapping a big Takami badge on the car, of course. But it's chosen not to.
Other cars to consider?
Mazda is on to a good thing here: there are very few mainstream SUVs with anything like this level of power and luxury.
The Ford Escape and Holden Equinox get close on grunt (178kW/ 345Nm, 188kW/353) but both are a long, long way off the Mazda's luxury trim and build quality.
In fact, the CX-5 Takami craftily crosses over into entry-level premium-SUV territory: around $60k is the starting point for the likes of the BMW X2, Mercedes-Benz GLA, Volvo XC40 or Lexus UX.
If you're not fixated on having a posh brand, you'd be mad not to at least have a look at the Takami.
Last thought: if you're a fan of the Mazda Takami ethos, take a look at the Mazda6. Not, it's not an SUV: but it is a spacious family car and it is superb to drive.
Sadly you can't have a Mazda6 Takami wagon, but the sedan's boot is actually 20 litres bigger than the CX-5's. Just saying.
At a glance Mazda CX-5 Takami Base price: $61,495.
Powertrain and performance: 2.5-litre turbo-petrol four, 170kW/ 420Nm, 6-speed automatic, RWD, Combined economy 8.2 litres per 100km.
Vital statistics: 4550mm long, 1680mm high, 2700mm wheelbase, luggage capacity 455-1355 litres, 19-inch alloy wheels with 225/55 tyres.
We like: Smooth performance, luxury-car cabin ambience, value next to $56k Limited.
We don't like: Hardly looks different to Limited, interior colour might not appeal.