If you pay attention to what's on our roads, you will have noticed that SUVs dominate the tarmac in their droves. Be it a compact Jimny or a grand Bentayga, they're everywhere. But it's the middle ground that remains the sweetspot.
The midsized family SUV sector remains extremely popular with consumers looking for the consummate car - practical, well-priced, luxurious, safe and good to drive. The Tiguan, Sportage and RAV4 all spring to mind here as competent contenders.
However, often forgotten is the CX-5 from Mazda. We've been spending some time with the elegant Japanese SUV and thought we'd share some of our favourite things about the premium-feeling SUV.
While it may not seem like a big concern in this segment, customers demand a good-looking car. If they didn't care, Volkswagen wouldn't sell so many R-Line Tiguan's. The CX-5 has an elegant, sophisticated body shape that looks absolutely gorgeous when painted in a metallic shade, particularly the Soul Crystal Red. Even the base-model 2.0 Active is equipped with LED headlamps and stylish 17-inch alloy wheels.
While premium brands will have you pay extra for some luxuries, Mazda has equipped even the base model Active with a comprehensive list of standard kit. Your R471 500 nets you six airbags, air-conditioning, cruise control, keyless start, a reversing camera and automatic wipers. At the other end of the model range is the halo 2.2 DE Akera. The only diesel in the range is also the most expensive, at R699 900. But aside from all the aforementioned goodies, you also receive a head-up display, lane-keep assist, satellite navigation, a sunroof, leather upholstery, adaptive LED headlamps and lastly, an electrically adjustable driver's seat.
Step into the CX-5 – particularly the Akera — and there's an overwhelming feel of luxury and solidity. The leather is plush and feels expensive. But even the plastics used to craft the door panels and dashboard feel posh, as if they belong in a car costing twice as much. Subtle metal finishes give an extra upmarket feel. Everything you touch feels built to last, from the damped switches to the doors which shut with a reassuring thud. Mazda provides the CX-5 range with a three-year/unlimited km warranty and service plan.
As is the case with all family cars, the deciding factor is made on how practical they are. The Mazda is no different to its accomplished rivals, offering plenty of room for a family of five and their luggage. The rear row is deceptively spacious, with legroom aplenty - even for taller passengers. Open the bootlid (electric on the 2.5 Individual and Akera) and you will find a commodious 442 litres of packing space. Need more? Fold the rear seats down, and the Mazda boasts a panel van rivalling 1914 litres. Fuel economy varies with engine choice but the turbodiesel can achieve a rather frugal 5.7 L/100 km (claimed).
As our money has to work harder these days, value is important to almost everyone. And the Mazda delivers, with stellar value for money. While the diesel Akera is certainly our favourite, we would have to opt for the 2.0 Dynamic Auto, purely from a value perspective. Priced at R516 700, it offers the right blend between the luxuries of the high-end models and the value of the lesser variants. Add in the unlimited km service plan/warranty and the CX-5 is the ideal vehicle for those who travel long distances.
In what is a highly competitive segment bristling with opposition, the CX-5 can still hold its own and is an excellent choice for a family who wants style, luxury and safety in one package.