2018 Mazda CX-5 Akera Diesel AWD review

AutoTrader NZ
Published 3 September 2020



The Mazda CX-5 is a best-selling SUV thanks sharp looks and a diverse line-up that includes two petrol engines and a twin-turbo diesel, with a choice of front- or all-wheel-drive, spread across five specification grades.

Another reason for its popularity is the regular mild updates which have brought incremental improvements to the CX-5 and kept fresh product in Mazda showrooms. The latest mild update, the first for the second-generation CX-5, has just arrived in Australian dealerships with a performance boost for the 2.5-litre petrol and 2.2-litre twin turbo diesel engines.

The CX-5 is priced between $28,690 (AUD) and $49,190 (AUD) and is topped by the feature-rich CX-5 Akera Diesel AWD that’s the subject of this review.

2018 Mazda CX 5 Akera Diesel AWD  side




  • The 2.2-litre SKYACTIV-D twin-turbo diesel engine has been gifted with more power and torque, bringing it up from the 129kW/420Nm outputs of the old car to 140kW/450Nm.  The result is more shove with minimal turbo lag, and a power delivery that’s more petrol-like than diesel. Only the sound betrays the fact that this isn’t a petrol engine.
  • Fuel economy has also been improved. Mazda’s claim drops from 6.0L/100km to 5.7L/100km on the official combined cycle, which was about right in real-world conditions where we averaged around 6.1L/100km in mostly urban conditions. 
  • The Akera variants have a new head-up display unit which shines directly on to the windscreen instead of a less-visible flip-up glass panel. The display, which includes speed, speed limit, active cruise control info and sat-van directions, is sharper than before and now much closer to the driver’s eye line.  

2018 Mazda CX 5 Akera Diesel AWD rear

  • The Akera also now has a 360-degree top-down camera view to help avoid obstacles that lurk to the sides and in front of the car, rather than just showing you what’s hiding behind.
  • The Akera’s $50,000-ish price tag takes it towards premium territory, but it’s brimming with features that are pricey options in European SUVs, such as the head-up display and 360-degree camera.  There’s also a black leather upholstery with contrast stitching; a powered tailgate; adaptive LED headlights; active cruise control with stop-and-go function; traffic sign recognition, automatic folding and heated door mirrors; heated front seats; digital radio; keyless entry and sunroof.
  • It’s safe, with a heap of active safety features including high-speed and city automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, driver attention alert, forward obstruction warning, front and rear parking sensors and lane keeping assist.
  • The big features list means there are few options to tempt you, with only the pure-white leather upholstery (pictured), and metallic paint costing extra.
  • The CX-5 doesn’t look very big outside, but the neat interior is roomy and comfortable. The front seats are deep and supportive, with great upper body support. The rear seats have plenty of legroom and good toe room under the front seats. The rear backrests can recline from 24- to 28-degrees and passengers benefit from their own air vents and a USB port hidden in the fold-down centre armrest.
  • The big back doors make getting in and out, or loading kids into child seats, an easy task. 

2018 Mazda CX 5 Akera Diesel AWD  back seats




  • Mazda has reduced the diesel’s engine noise through noise-cancelling software in the audio system, as well as by installing a sound damper to reduce engine knock. However noise suppression is still a CX-5 weakness thanks to abundant tyre noise on coarser asphalt.
  • Mazda installed Apple CarPlay/Android in the recently updated BT-50 ute, but not in its popular family hauler. Being able to pair your smartphone and access apps like Spotify would make the CX-5’s already user-friendly infotainment system one of the best in the business.
  • Apart from the head-up display and 360-degree camera, there is nothing else to show that you’ve bought the latest CX-5 Akera. This update was just 12 months after second-generation CX-5 arrived so expect a slight facelift next year.
  • Mazda’s diesel servicing regime means you’ll be visiting the mechanic quite regularly, with intervals set for every 10,000km and 12 months. That’s a little lower than many key rivals, which tend to stipulate 15,000km/12 month intervals.

2018 Mazda CX 5 Akera Diesel AWD interior



High-spec, turbo diesel, AWD competitors that give the CX-5 Akera a run for its money include the Ford Escape Titanium,  Holden Equinox LTZ-V, Hyundai Tucson Highlander CRDi, Kia Sportage GT-Line, Peugeot 3008 GT, Toyota RAV4 Cruiser and Volkswagen Tiguan 140TDI Highline.