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Driven: Mazda's new CX-5 is a polished performer

2017-08-28 08:11

Dave Fall, Janine Van Der Post

REFINED STYLING: Mazda SA has launched its next-gen CX-5 SUV locally. Image: Wheels24/ Janine Van Der Post

Cape Town - OK, so you’ve pretty much made up your mind on an SUV. But which one should you go for – after all there’s quite a choice available to South African buyers at the moment. 

In my opinion Asian auto manufacturers make some of most reliable and stylish five-seater SUVs to date – the Mazda CX5 a case in point. With around 40 dealerships to be found countrywide and with excellent sales and service backup, we’ve found this is a brand that really does deliver.

Let’s take a closer look at the CX5, originally launched in South Africa in 2012. Sales figures have steadily climbed making it the best-selling model in the current Mazda line-up; it’s offered in over 120 countries while accounting for approximately a quarter of Mazda’s global sales volume.  

What’s it all about?

For 2017 there’s further good news: some subtle CX5 changes (but gladly only cosmetic ones), because we believe in the old adage why ‘mess with success’.

Prices start at R379 900, rising to R557 500 for the 2.2-litre turbo-diesel AWD auto version, the main subject of this particular road test.

Behind the wheel

Wheels24 recently secured a top-of-the-range variant for evaluation; a five-seater, turbo-diesel model in soul red livery (a sort of high-gloss scarlet), with contrasting black leather upholstery.

Only available with automatic transmission plus tiptronic (a sort of manual gear selection device), proved a real blessing over a conventional manual ’box given we are centrally based in Cape Town – surely the worst gridlocked city in the country.

Driving impressions

It’s really easy to get comfortable in the spacious and ultra modern cabin – and your family will as well – thanks to just about every conceivable creature comfort found in the flagship CX-5.

Hit the start button and I kid you not: any expected diesel engine clatter is virtually non-existent – it’s that quiet. A quick glance at the rev counter confirmed the 2.2-litre motor redlines at 5000 rpm proving we really were behind the wheel of an ‘oilburner’.

It’s always nice to know – and at times most reassuring – there’s 129kW of power and 420Nm of torque under your right foot … all this and all-wheel drive as well. 

Flicking through the on-board computer revealed a tank range of 650km, while the potential is well within your grasp to sip Derv 50 (thankfully available everywhere these days), at less than 7.0-litres/100km.

Taking part in the N1 grand prix on a run out to Paarl revealed an average reading of 6.5-litres/100km consumed "while observing the national speed limits, naturally."

Wheels24's Janine Van der Post says: "If Mazda has not been a topic of discussion around the braai these days, the CX-5 is a sure point of conversation. The latest offering from the Japanese brand is helping the automaker get back on track. So much that a few premium brand owners have asked me about trading their current vehicles for the new SUV.

"And with its stylish new looks, who can blame them? The refreshed changes might seem discreet on the upgraded model, but it makes a huge difference in terms of design. The headlights and taillights have been redesigned as well as the front of the car, including the grille. These changes, however minor, give the SUV a more assertive look than before. 

"It also drives a lot better than before thanks to its torque vectoring system. Mazda has also made some changes to the suspension so the steering commands are more responsive, thus enabling a much more enjoyable drive. 

"The 2.2-litre model offers a much better drive than the lower-specced 2.0-litre and the engine also seems to be better matched to the automated gearbox. This turbo-diesel hardly sounds like an industrial machine and the loud rattling, common with diesel units, is almost non-existent. 

"Yes, it's still a struggle to find the perfect gear first time round but the automated 'box is a vast improvement than before and you learn to live with it. Besides, with Cape Town being rated at the most congested city in the country, any automatic gearbox is a blessing whether you're in the Mother City or up in Gauteng.

"It offers a solid drive too when you do reach the open road and it handles spritely driving well, along with some sweeping bends on the R302 en route to the Swartland municipality. 

"It comes with enough standard features to make it quite competive against the usual, more popular rivals - which you usually have to fork out another limb for additional extras.

"It's definitely a car to consider if you're looking for something smaller in the SUV segment that is more affordable than high-end premium pricetags." 

Safety features

More standard creature comforts/safety features include power sliding-and-tilt sunroof, a BOSE sound system with 10 speakers, 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.

Why you should buy one

One of the very best and safest SUV’s out there, while every SUV really ought to have all-wheel drive, we reckon.

To sum up this is a well-built, roomy, value-for-money SUV – with quite possibly one the best powertrains in the business. 


Mazda CX-5 2.0L Active FWD manual - R379 900 
CX-5 2.0L Active FWD auto - R391 900
CX-5 2.2L DE Active auto FWD - R459 400
CX-5 2.0L Dynamic FWD manual - R404 900
CX-5 2.0L Dynamic FWD automatic - R416 900
CX-5 2.5L Individual auto FWD - R491 900
CX-5 2.2L DE Akera AWD auto - R557 500

The above models are all backed up by a three-year unlimited kilometre service plan.

To provide complete peace of mind motoring, a three-year factory warranty, a three-year roadside assistance and a five-year corrosion warranty are also included.


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