Here’s a confession. I’m one of the few motorists who actually enjoys a good read… of their car’s manual. Normally I’m the driver, as I like compiling mental notes about the car from behind the wheel; useful ammo for the next write-up. I’m particularly enjoying the CX-5, but even so, my wife takes over occasionally, at which point I retire to the passenger seat and work my way through the tome that is the ‘Owner’s Reference Guide’.
I needed it to work out one or two intricacies involving the Apple CarPlay system, with my iPhone 13 Pro. I like Mazda’s own navigation interface, but don’t trust the resulting route not to direct me straight into congestion, which it’s done once or twice. I prefer Waze, which, once launched on my iPhone, is nicely ‘mirrored’ in the central, prominent 10.25-inch infotainment screen. The only problem is that in CarPlay mode the directions don’t appear on the great head-up display, as they do with Mazda’s in-built system. I still can’t work that out. One reason might be the sheer heft of the Guide, at 146 pages, with 26 devoted to ‘Connect’.
After reading a survey by Scrap Car Comparison, I realised I’d got off lightly, however. They analysed nearly 100 owner’s manuals for popular models and found that many require longer reading times than some major works of fiction. Taking word counts from each manual and using the average English silent reading speed of 238 words per minute, they found that the Audi R8 has the longest manual, requiring 43 hours to read – more time needed than for J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series, and requiring two hours more dedication than War and Peace. Even the less complex Audi A3’s requires 12 hours and 11 minutes – way beyond most drivers’ concentration span. The Audi e-tron’s manual requires over 42 hours, the Volvo XC40’s 12 hours and the Volkswagen ID.4’s 11 hours and six minutes. Who has that time to spare?
The good news is that on the CX-5 almost everything is so easy to operate that the manual is, mostly, superfluous. I like that in a car. If the human interface isn’t intuitive, it will continue to irritate, no matter how much time you spend reading the ‘bible’. Because most of us, having worked out once how to negotiate menu pathways and different screens, still struggle to remember how to do it next time there’s a problem. And that’s simply not the case with the easy-to-understand CX-5.
The even better news, for me, at least, is that I get to cheat. I’m booking a driving session with Mazda Academy’s chief trainer. So, if, after a marathon session with the Guide, I still can’t guarantee Waze to connect at first go – I sometimes find that when connected to CarPlay the Waze icon doesn’t appear – and I still can’t get route instructions in the head-up display, I’ll ask Mazda’s tech whizz instead.
I’m left with just one query. With nine different cars in Mazda UK’s current range, how does their expert find time to do all the reading? By getting their partner to do the driving, perhaps? Now that would most certainly be a shame…
Arrived 9th February 2022
Price when new £39,385
Price as tested £39,965
Economy 42.8mpg (combined) 41.1mpg (on test)
Costs None Faults None