Our test car’s tow bar hadn’t been installed correctly, which allowed the bar to move and the ball to sit too low. Once this fault was spotted and corrected the Mazda CX-5 was much more its old self, but with so many new models arriving, it drops down the pecking order this year.
The Mazda still has a lot going for it, though. The CX-5 felt stable at 60mph and recovered well from sharp steering inputs, but data from the Al-Ko ATC system showed some movement from the caravan when decelerating from high speeds.
In the hill-start test, the electronic parking brake held car and caravan still, and the 2.2-litre engine had enough brawn to comfortably pull to the top of the hill, provided the driver balanced clutch and throttle with care.
Leave the caravan behind and the CX-5 is great fun to drive. Precise and agile handling makes the Mazda a really enjoyable car to thread down a twisting B-road. This doesn’t come at the expense of ride comfort, though, with a supple but controlled approach to bumpy roads.
Top-spec models like the Sport Nav come with lots of equipment and there’s the reassurance of a five-star rating from the safety experts at Euro NCAP.