Driven: Mazda CX-5 2.0 Carbon Edition
Since being introduced in late 2016, Mazda’s midsize CX-5 SUV has enjoyed great success with South African families. The high-quality interior and distinctive styling appealed to many buyers, the upmarket appeal at a mainstream price being too alluring for some.
However, stiff competition from the likes of VW, Toyota, and Kia has seen the CX-5 having to battle increasingly excellent competition. The handsome (and very capable) Tiguan has become a firm favourite locally, with the RAV4 and its reputation for reliability retains many loyal buyers.
Recently, Mazda has released a special edition of the semi-premium SUV. The Carbon Edition features stylish, black-painted 19-inch alloy wheels and gloss black side mirrors. Inside, sporty touches - like red stitching on the seats and steering wheel - work well with the suede and leather-trimmed seats.
With the addition of the Carbon Edition derivative, Mazda has decided to rework the local CX-5 range. It essentially replaces the 2.0 Individual model, with only the 2.5 Individual AWD and range-topping 2.2DE AWD Akera outshining it locally.
The 2.0 Carbon Edition is equipped with a naturally-aspirated, 2.0-litre petrol engine. It offers up 121 kW and 213 Nm of torque. The highlight of this powertrain is low-speed refinement. In town, it is wonderfully quiet, with very little aural intrusion. At higher speeds, it’s still impressive - although pushing the engine does allow a strained, four-cylinder engine note to permeate the cabin. Although Mazda claims an average fuel consumption figure of just 6.9 L/100 km, the AutoAdvisor team saw a figure closer to 7.6 L/100 km over our time with the petrol-powered Mazda.
There is plenty of space on offer. From behind the wheel, it’s easy to find a comfortable position, courtesy of the electrically-operated driver's seat and adjustable steering wheel. Rear space isn’t as impressive as some rivals, although legroom is still decent. The boot is commodious, though, measuring 442 litres. Fold the rear bench down, and a very handy 1914 litres of utility space is up for grabs.
The interior quality is downright impressive. Although a touch was demure, the interior is beautifully crafted. Perhaps it’s a bold statement, but we think the CX-5 has the best cabin in its class. Not only does it feel as if it was hewn from a solid rock, but it’s tastefully trimmed and brilliantly laid out. Soft-touch materials cover most surfaces, while a leather-trimmed steering wheel, gear lever and seats give a luxurious feel. Gloss black piano trim finishes look brilliant, but as is the case with most cars, it leaves fingerprints and picks up dust rather easily.
One place you won’t find any fingerprints is the infotainment screen. As most manufacturers continue to push the touchscreen, Mazda has remained committed to using a rotary scroller to navigate through the various features. It may seem old-school, but in truth, it works better. Not only is it less distracting, but more intuitive too.
The system is feature-rich with Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth, satellite navigation and USB capability all included. Everything else in the interior is logically placed, with easy-to-use climate controls and clear, classy instrumentation.
Despite the rather large 19-inch alloy wheels, the CX-5 rides exceptionally well. While the suspension isn’t overly plush, it never feels jarring and manages to maintain composure, even over rough surfaces. Like all other Mazda’s, the CX-5’s steering has a nice, pleasing heft - making it rather entertaining through the bends. While it’s certainly not as dynamic as the Mazda3 or smaller CX-3, it’s more entertaining than a RAV4.
The Carbon Edition gives consumers more choice when shopping for a CX-5. At just over R565 000, the mid-range CX-5 offers all the luxuries you could reasonably require, with the sporty detailing giving it a bit of flair and individuality. Perceived quality is excellent, with the interior feeling far more premium than the price tag suggests. The 2.0-litre engine is capable but feels outclassed. Mazda’s turbodiesel seems to be a better fit for the CX-5, but is only available in the 2.2DE Akera. However, the CX-5 Carbon Edition is still decently refined, classy and suitably practical.