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Road test | Mazda CX-50: the logical continuation

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The target is now much higher than before. Mazda has been saying for months that it is working to gradually transform itself into a luxury brand. History will have taught us, however, that such a metamorphosis is an undertaking strewn with pitfalls due to the stature of the competition. The brand therefore wants to go about it in a balanced and thoughtful way, as the all-new CX-50 compact SUV demonstrates.

Design


PHOTO PROVIDED BY MAZDA

The 2023 Mazda CX-50 relies on a 12cm longer wheelbase than the CX-5 as well as 7cm wider tracks.

Like many alphanumeric nomenclatures, the name of the CX-50 does not help in any way to understand its role within the Mazda range. It therefore seems necessary to explain it. Built on the modified CX-30 platform, it bridges the gap between mainstream products and Mazda’s promised next rear-wheel-drive chassis SUVs. To do this, it relies on a more contemporary and inspired design than that of the CX-5. Well cut, it is based on a longer wheelbase of 12 cm than the latter as well as wider tracks of 7 cm. Its proportions therefore seem more elegant, especially in terms of the famous “dashboard-axle” ratio showing a slender bonnet. Gills placed at the ends of the front bumper and the rear bumper accentuate the visual width of the object. It’s still well dosed and there’s a more textured look than on the CX-5.

On board


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The interior of the 2023 Mazda CX-50

Anyone who’s ever sat in late-model Mazdas will notice a familiar layout orientation here. The CX-50, however, cultivates its own stylistic identity by means of a dashboard featuring topstitching on the horizontal embellished with cross stitches. Like many of the latest generation models, it is this horizontality that predominates, with vertical nozzles that break it. These also delimit the instrumentation station, which mixes physical needles with a digital display. The materials making up the assembly are beautifully crafted and largely flexible. We also appreciate the positioning of the cupholders in front of the gear lever and the depth of the central storage, accessible by means of 50:50 openings. The width of the central console, however, encroaches on the width of the legroom. The roofline also decreases rear headroom.

Under the hood


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The 2023 Mazda CX-50 gets the same mechanicals as the CX-5.

The novelty aspect wanes somewhat here. Essentially, the CX-50 uses the same mechanics employed by the CX-5. This results in the use of a naturally aspirated 2.5 L four-cylinder (187 hp) and a turbocharged option of the same displacement. Advancing 256 hp and 320 lb-ft when fueled with 93-octane gasoline, this mill shines with its abundance of low-end torque and very hushed mannerisms. In the case of the CX-50, Mazda seeks to enhance the auditory experience with a more or less harmonious simulated sound overlay. This engine is still supported by a six-speed automatic transmission which does a good job overall, but which can stumble in urban driving in its sorting of reports. Limited in its staging against rivals, this transmission increases the speed on the highway, which penalizes fuel consumption. Difficult to go below 9 L/100 km.

Behind the wheel


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There is an impression of solidity that emanates from this SUV, resulting in a certainty in curves without, however, showing a marked propensity for sportiness.

Mazda presents this CX-50 as a more refined version of the CX-5. It’s very noticeable behind the wheel. The ride is more assured and does not suffer from the transition to a torsion beam in the rear. The driving position, lower than on the CX-5, is very pleasant and the steering is firmer and has a more expressive feel than the competition. There is an impression of solidity that emanates from this SUV, resulting in a certainty in curves without, however, showing a marked propensity for sportiness. The intervention of the all-wheel drive is done first by the front axle, making its behavior eminently predictable. It is also well suspended, but does not benefit from adaptive shock absorbers which could have alleviated a little more marked dryness than in some SUVs. We finally perceive a degree of acoustic insulation clearly advanced for the segment.

Embedded technologies


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The infotainment system of the Mazda CX-50 2023

Technologically, there is no revolution to note here. The CX-50 essentially uses the technological tools of the CX-5, relying on a 10.25-inch horizontal screen fixed to the top of the dashboard. Since it is a little far from the driver, its readability is worse than for some competitors and it is not tactile. On the other hand, the control wheel is precise and well placed on the center console. Its infotainment system remains imperfect. Certainly, its processing speed is good and the menus are built in an intelligible way, but we come up against some too many manipulations. The change in radio sets is an eloquent example. Moreover, Mazda offers a telematics application for smartphones with a subscription for only two years. The active safety elements are also enshrined in the standard equipment, but more advanced braking assistance is reserved for the GT livery.

The verdict


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The design of the 2023 Mazda CX-50 is more modern than that of the CX-5 and its overall refinement makes it a serious contender in its arena.

Despite the brilliance of his performance, which confirms Mazda’s competitiveness in this sub-category of general-purpose luxury compact SUVs, a $7,000 question seems unavoidable. It’s the sum that separates the entry liveries of the CX-5 and the CX-50, a gap that narrows as you move up the livery hierarchy. In this case, the price difference makes the CX-50 less appealing than its older sibling. Both share the same mechanics and are entitled to similar characteristics. If the lure of more trimmed equipment is inviting for you, the CX-50 is more interesting for multiple reasons. Its design is more modern and its overall refinement makes it a serious contender in its arena. It also relies on proven mechanics, if not state-of-the-art. A very nice proposal from Mazda.

Notebook

With the help of Toyota

The CX-50 is built at an assembly plant shared with Toyota in Huntsville, Alabama. The assembly of the specimen tested was very good, except for certain body parts which presented slightly larger gaps.

It can tow more

One of the arguments in favor of the CX-50 is its increased towing capacity of 1588 kg – compared to 907 kg for the CX-5 – with the turbo engine, which makes it one of the best in the category at this time. chapter.

Large cargo space

With a volume of 899 L, the CX-50’s cargo space can hold a lot, but the available height remains limited. It is therefore necessary to take out the tape measure before engulfing larger objects.

For not too steep trails

Unlike some brands that produce models designed expressly to tame steep routes, Mazda is more realistic in its approach, relying on an off-road driving mode and acceptable ground clearance (219 mm) to negotiate the occasional pitfall.

The outdoors on the roof

The CX-50 offers an optional small tent that can be mounted on the roof to target avid outdoor clientele.

Technical sheet

  • Model tested: Mazda CX-50 GT
  • Engine: L4 DOHC 2.5 Turbocharged
  • Power: 256 hp at 5000 rpm (227 hp with 87 octane)
  • Torque: 320 lb-ft at 2000 rpm (310 lb-ft with 87 octane)
  • Transmission: Six-speed automatic with manual mode
  • Drivetrain: Front transverse engine, all-wheel drive
  • Consumption (EnerGuide): 9.4 L/100 km
  • Price (with options): $47,015 (starting price $39,315)
  • Competitors: Buick Envision, Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Escape, GMC Terrain, Honda CR-V, Jeep Cherokee, Mitsubishi Outlander, Nissan Rogue, Subaru Forester, Toyota RAV4 and Volkswagen Tiguan
  • New in 2023? New model



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