The covers have just been officially drawn away from the Mazda CX-5 here in Penang. Now, we’ve already seen the brochure, as well as the price that Bermaz Motor is asking for one.

As a recap, you need RM155,219 for the 2WD and RM165,219 for the AWD (both OTR, without insurance). The CX-5 comes only in one standard spec, so both variants are equipped with the same features, which means the differences between them are not immediately noticeable, apart from the number of wheels driven.

The SUV -which made its Japanese market debut in February – comes bearing SkyActiv technology. In a nutshell, SkyActiv is a holistic approach by Mazda to give better engine performance, handling, environmental friendliness and increased safety in a shell that is quite dashing.

Power comes from the SkyActiv-G 2.0 litre direct injection petrol engine. It has a 13:1 compression ratio, the highest in any production engine, the closest being the Ferrari 458, with a 12.5:1 compression ratio. The knocking that usually comes with a high compression engine is tamed by a 4-2-1 exhaust system with long pipes in the exhaust manifold.

Yes, we have a lower compression ratio compared to the original 14:1, but Mazda has said that the compression ratio is dependent on the quality of fuel for each region, and the ratio of 13:1 is still high.

The engine’s piston has a cavity on the piston crown that gives better air-fuel mixture around the spark plug. The SkyActiv-G is also 10% lighter and has 30% less mechanical resistance compared to Mazda’s current engines. This results in 15% better fuel economy, 15% greater torque output and 15% lower carbon emissions. Oh, and it runs on RON 95 fuel.

Although both variants share the same engine, the output figures are slightly different. The AWD produces 152 hp at 6,000 rpm and 198 Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm. In contrast, the 2WD generates 153 hp at 6,000 rpm and 200 Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm. Supposedly, there’s a reason for the slight difference in numbers; Mazda claims it measures the horsepower on the wheels and not on the engine, as other car manufacturers usually do. Can’t say it’s all that convincing, but there you are.

As for fuel economy, the AWD sips 7.3 Ll/100km (combined) while the 2WD needs only 6.9 L/100km (combined). Another thing, the AWD gets a 58 litre fuel tank and the 2WD drinks from a 56 litre tank. The SkyActiv-D, which is the diesel engine, will not be arriving here, due to the quality of the fuel available here.

SkyActiv-Drive partners SkyActiv-G in sending power to the wheels. It is a six-speed automatic transmission that works with a small torque converter unit used only when the vehicle moves from stationary. The power is transferred through a direct mechanical connection, which increases the lock-up range from 40%-60% to 80%-90% at high speeds when compared to Mazda’s current five-speed slushbox.

Mazda also said that the new gearbox shifts smoother and quicker. Mazda’s Mechatronic module, which was previously mounted outside, is now integrated into the hydraulic control mechanism inside the transmission case. Communication with the engine’s CPU is increased and a direct linear solenoid makes the shifting silky throughout the range.

The CX-5 rides on the SkyActiv-Chassis, with a new suspension system that is lighter, yet stiffer. It also features a new geometry with the front MacPherson strut suspension and rear multi-link layout. Standard grip duties are performed by 255/55 R19 rubbers wrapped around 19×7-1/2J aluminium wheels.

Mazda’s compact SUV also features the SkyActiv-Body. High-tensile steel and a new production process make this one eight percent lighter yet 30% more rigid. The metal is formed into a multi-load structure that is said to effectively disperse impact energy throughout the body structure; done mainly for crash safety. So, the SUV in its 2WD guise tips the scales at 1,522 kg, and the AWD is slightly heavier with 1,589 kg.

Wearing its ‘KODO – Soul of Motion’ suit of armour, the vehicle measures 4,555 mm long overall, 1,840 mm wide overall and 1,670 mm tall, with a 2,700 mm wheelbase. The SUV has an unladen ground clearance of 215 mm for the 2WD and 210 mm for the AWD.

The five-seater features leather seats; the driver seat gets electric-powered seat adjustment (none for the front passenger), although both seats come with warmers. The rear seats have the ability to fold in 40:20:40-split. Dual-zone air-conditioning rounds up the creature comforts.

Entertainment comes from a nine-speaker Bose Centerpoint Surround Sound System, hooked up to a 5.8-inch touchscreen monitor that controls the multimedia. The system can be connected via AUX, USB and Bluetooth. The colour monitor also displays images from the rear camera.

As for safety, the CX-5 comes with DCS, TCS, four-wheel ABS, EBD with Brake Assist and Tyre Pressure Monitor. There are six airbags in here – two in front, side and curtain. Notably, this is the first vehicle that uses a 1,800MPa ultra-high tensile steel for bumpers.

In addition to, Bermaz Motor is offering an ultimate in-total vehicle protection to keep the CX-5 in pristine showroom condition. It is called TRIBOS and it employs an active polymer shield to protect the paintwork. The treatment is also used on the glass, alloys and seats.

The CX-5 comes in five colours – Sky Blue, Zeal Red, Crystal White Pearl, Aluminium Metallic and Metropolitan Grey. Like all Mazda vehicles, this SUV is sold with a three-year warranty plus a three-year maintenance that covers the cost of parts and labour.

As you have guessed, I’ve already taken both CX-5 variants for a short spin. Look out for the initial drive impressions soon.