Major updates announced for Mazda UK’s top-selling SUV model

New CX-5 models for 2023 (Mazda)
New CX-5 models for 2023 (Mazda)

Mazda UK’s top-selling car - the CX-5 - is getting major upgrades for 2023, coinciding with the launch of a state-of-the-art training centre showcasing the ancient Japanese art of hospitality.

The family SUV, costing from £29,135, was launched in 2012 and now accounts for 25 per cent of the firm’s UK sales with over 75,000 bought to date.

For 2023, petrol models get environmental ‘mild-hybrid’ technology, harnessing a battery-powered electric motor to support the engine, boosting efficiency and reducing emissions.

In a separate environmental thrust some petrol models are getting ‘cylinder deactivation’, which uses sophisticated electronics to cut two of the four cylinders while the engine is running, under light load conditions such as constant speed cruising. This cuts fuel consumption and drives down emissions - without the driver noticing any loss in power.

Other updates to the CX-5 include wireless - instead of plug-in - Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, while USB ports are being upgraded to USB-C. There’s a new colour to choose from - Rhodium White - and new trim level classifications, bringing the CX-5 into line with other Mazda models.

The entry-level CX-5 is the Centre-Line model with either a 163 hp petrol or a 148 hp diesel engine, while the Newground version looks more rugged, with black alloy wheels and a reversible - waterproof - boot floor, for families with active lifestyles.

David Williams with Rob Hancock, Mazda Academy Manager
David Williams with Rob Hancock, Mazda Academy Manager


At the top of the range is the Takumi flagship model with a higher-class interior featuring genuine woodgrain plus the option of a 2.5-litre petrol engine, as well as the choice of all-wheel drive for better control in slippery conditions.

All models are claimed to benefit from Mazda’s ‘Kodo design’, which, the firm says, embodies its philosophy of ‘breathing life and personality into our cars’.

To ensure public-facing Mazda employees - and technicians - live up to the philosophy, the firm has announced a high-tech new training academy able to host 5,000 delegates a year in addition to broadcasting live, online training.

David Williams interviewing Rob Hancock
David Williams interviewing Rob Hancock

Based near Bedford and the M1, the 11,000 square-foot centre is where Mazda UK’s 2,000 or so staff will go to be immersed in ‘Omotenashi’, the ancient art of Japanese hospitality - and how to pass it on to customers. They will also experience ‘Tomoiku’, which means ‘learning from each other’.

It all happens in a spacious lounge-like environment softened with timber, plants, soft lighting and breakout areas. There are theatrical showroom-window views of a bright, spacious, state-of-the-art eight-bay training workshop. The centre cost £1.2 million to fit out, on top of leasing fees.


There are six ‘training’ engines on trolleys in the workshop, a bespoke EV training zone and integrated TV screens to transmit live trainer action, plus a special ‘digital room’ for additional filming and photography.

David Williams viewing the history wall
David Williams viewing the history wall

The academy boasts sound-proofed lecture rooms, online-lecture booths beaming live seminars out to the firm’s 122 dealerships, a dining area and ‘history wall’, starting with a picture of Mazda founder Jujiro Matsuda in 1920, ascending via the firm’s iconic 1967 Cosmo Sport two-door coupe and culminating in blank space, enabling current and future employees to fill in the blanks.

Until now, training happened in hotels or at Mazda’s Dartford HQ. But by streamlining the process from the academy, more employees will now receive additional training at lower cost, with the aim of making operations more efficient, delivering benefits for customers.

“Mazda’s culture is at the centre of everything here,” explains Rob Hancock - Mazda Academy Manager, who says the aim is to ‘create a bit of theatre’. “Everyone, including the apprentices, is immersed in it and benefits from it.”


The training centre plans to mount graduation ceremonies for its apprentices, many of whom embark on their three-year programme at the age of 17, emerging as fully qualified technicians after 60 days of training and extensive in-dealer hands-on experience.

Mazda Training Academy - picture of Mazda’s founder Jujiro Matsuda
Mazda Training Academy - picture of Mazda’s founder Jujiro Matsuda

Currently up to 80 per cent of technicians are qualified to work on the firm’s electric vehicles. The new facility means that soon all will be EV-qualified, as the UK transitions away from the internal combustion engine towards electric-powered transport.

All levels - from school-fresh apprentices to marketing, sales, service and managerial personnel - will undergo training at the centre, along with technicians moving from Minarai status (a new pupil embarking on their journey to become a craftsman), via ‘Ichinin Mae’ (craftsmen qualified to work unassisted) and ‘Jyukuren’ (mature craftsmen) to the pinnacle of ‘Takumi’ (master craftsman).

Mazda Training Academy  - the eight-bay workshop
Mazda Training Academy - the eight-bay workshop

Peter Allibon, Mazda UK Sales Director, told the Standard: “The automotive industry is changing at a rapid pace, with new vehicle technologies and electrification, as well as changing customer demands and preferences, so supporting our network through these changes is crucial. The new centre is an investment to ensure that’s exactly what we do.”