Driven: Mazda CX-5

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Mazda’s CX-5 is worthy of a 5-star rating. And here’s why.

The compact crossover market is easily one of the fastest growing segments – not only in South Africa, but around the world too. This is the reason why automakers are dropping traditional sedans and wagons from the line-ups in favour of these crossovers. And its automakers on either end of the spectrum – whether its high-end luxury or volume producers, it appears everyone is gearing towards crossovers and SUVs. 

After all, it’s about practicality, and having the best of both worlds. In South Africa, consumers have been gravitating to these sort of vehicles since before the pioneer of the segment – Toyota’s RAV4 – appeared in the mid-90s. Back then, we had unique to South African vehicles like the Nissan Sani, yet these days, the choices for someone looking at a crossover/SUV are limited only by their budget. One particular vehicle that been blazing quite a trail for itself is the latest Mazda CX-5, and justifiably so, because as we found out, it’s one of the best crossovers available today. 

For those that don’t know, the CX-5 actually won the Mazda SA Car of the Year title in 2017. Yes, it was a made-up award, but this further galvanizes the fact that the CX-5 is the crème de la crème of the Mazda SA line-up. Earlier this year, the Japanese automaker sought to further enhance the CX-5 range, and this included interior design updates like a new air-conditioner panel pattern, chrome accents on the door mirrors, some redesigned switchgear, and most importantly, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay now feature as standard equipment across the entire range. 

The CX-5 is already a stunningly-styled SUV, and because of that, the exterior updates have been kept to a bare minimum. The aforementioned updates included a colour change for the 17-inch alloy wheels available on the Active derivatives and a new wheel design of the 19-inch alloy wheels from the Dynamic model. The model line-up actually includes eight derivatives, with a choice of three different powertrains. 

The range kicks off with a 2.0-litre petrol engine. This naturally-aspirated four-cylinder produces 121kw and 213nm, and is available with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. The model, which is offered under the ‘Active’ derivative is priced at R402 300 for the manual and R414 600 for the self-shifter. Next up is the ‘Dynamic’ pair of CX-5, and like the ‘Active’ variant, it is available with a 2.0L and with a choice of a manual or automatic transmission, and is priced at R428 100 and R440 500 respectively.

Next up is the first of two diesel variants, although this variant, the 2.2DE Active is front-wheel drive. Power comes from a 2.2-litre turbodiesel four-cylinder that produces 140kw and an impressive 450nm of torque. Paired exclusively with a six-speed automatic transmission, Mazda claim that the R487 400 will sip low-sulphur diesel at a rate of just 5.3 litres per 100kms – equating to a range of over 1000kms on a single tank of fuel.

Bar for the diesel variant, all motors are naturally aspirated. And in the case of the 2.5-litre four-cylinder that resides in the 2.5 AWD Individual variant, that motor is the largest on offer. Outputs are adequate and stand at 143kw and 258nm, and power is sent to all four corners via a six-speed automatic transmission. It’s fairly lively too, ‘sprinting’ from 0-100kph in 8.8 seconds. This variant is priced at R563 500, and sits above the 2.0 Individual at R498 600.

The flagship of the range is the 2.2DE AWD Akera, which is priced at R592 000. As expected, a 2.2-litre turbodiesel motor features, paired with a six-speed automatic and all-wheel drive. It is heavier than the 2.2DE Active, due to the extra specification it carries and because of this, it will run from 0-100kph 0.4 of a second slower than the Active’s 9.1 second effort. Fortunately, its 450nm of torque negates the 81kg weight handicap the Akera has over the Active. 

Whichever model you choose, the CX5 is amongst the safest crossover in its class. The flagship Akera model though features a power sliding-and-tilt sunroof, a BOSE sound system with 10 speakers, 6 airbags, parking sensors front and rear, blind spot monitoring (BSM), lane departure warning (LDW), lane keeping assist (LKA), smart city brake support (SCBS), adaptive LED headlights (ALH), driver attention alert (DAA), head-up-display, satellite navigation and a powerlift tail gate.

According to Mazda, the CX-5 is designed and built to the highest standard of performance and reliability. And because of this, it ships standard with a 3-year unlimited kilometre service plan. To provide further peace of mind motoring, a 3-year factory warranty, a 3-year roadside assistance and a 5-year Corrosion Warranty are also included.

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