In my nearly 12 months of CX-5 custodianship, there’s one thing about the car that never fails to ruffle feathers whenever people are introduced to it. You might’ve guessed, but it’s the colour. I’ve touched briefly on the rather unique hue of this particular Mazda before, but I can hold my tongue no longer. It’s time we talked about the greenish-brown elephant in the room.
Mazda calls this shade ‘Zircon Sand’, and it’s apparently inspired by the process of casting metal. It might as well be called ‘Marmite Metallic’ for how people react to it, though.
I’ve heard my poor CX-5 described as colour-matching anything from 1970s plastic telephone beige to uh… effluent. Kinder souls – admittedly most of them employed by Mazda dealers I’ve visited – have been more complimentary, many noting that it was the first model they’ve ever seen in the colour.
This rather took me by surprise – surely, after 12 months, I can’t be the only one to have ticked the box for Zircon Sand? So, I asked our friends at Mazda head office just how many owners are brave enough to order this love-or-hate colour. The answer is… two per cent. So for every 50 CX-5s leaving showrooms, only one of them looks like our car. No wonder I’m still yet to see another driving around.
So after nearly a year, what do we think of this – evidently – rather unique colour choice? I’ll admit, readers, it wasn’t my first choice – something I’ve found myself repeatedly telling anyone who’ll listen. Personally, I think it should be called ‘Thames Estuary on a windy day’, but that probably wouldn’t fit in the brochures. Or indeed, be understood by anyone outside of North Kent.
In reality, though, time and tide have seen me warm to its charms. I actually think it looks fab: rugged but still premium, like a designer camouflage print top. Our particular car’s ‘Sport Black’ (now called ‘Homura’) trim level helps too, adding black alloy wheels and garnishes for an even meaner look.
There’s another, more practical bonus too – it hides dirt like no other colour I’ve ever seen. As I mentioned a few months ago, my only indication that our CX-5 perhaps needed a clean was when the headlights stopped being able to penetrate the half-inch of road salt attached to them. I’m convinced you could drive a Zircon Sand-painted CX-5 around for a year without so much as a cursory jet wash, and it would still look alright.
Sadly someone else will have to try that experiment out for me, as our time with the CX-5 has come to a close. We’ve piled 14,000 miles onto its clock, and apart from one slow puncture – fixed by the excellent Rockingham Cars Mazda of Corby – it’s been absolutely, 100 per cent faultless. Not so much as a warning light or rattle has made itself known during our time with the car – so although the CX-5 isn’t the newest SUV to the market, you’re at least benefitting from 6 years of gentle improvements and tweaks since it was launched.
We liked the ride and handling, its extremely comfortable seats, and were consistently surprised by just how much could be squeezed into its relatively small dimensions. Mazda’s updated infotainment system has been excellent too – a particular joy when other colleagues have been struggling with the buggy systems other manufacturers are using – and we’ve come to rely on its very handy head-up display too.
If we had any gripes, they’d purely be with our car’s 2.0-litre petrol engine. Efficient it may be, but compared to the turbocharged or electrically-assisted options available in essentially all of its rivals, the CX-5 feels like it’s stuck with a powertrain from 10 years ago. It’s just not got the instantaneous power we’ve come to expect these days, and while it’s quite good fun to thrash around up to the redline, sometimes you just want to get home after a long day without going through the charade that you’re actually in an MX-5.
Beyond that though, the CX-5 has proved itself as an excellent all-rounder. It looks great, drives well, has loads of space inside, and if our experience is anything to go by, will be very reliable too. As for the colour, be brave – tick the box for Zircon Sand. Not only will you be the coolest CX-5 owner in town, you’ll save a fortune on car washes…