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DRIVING REVIEW: Mazda CX-5 2,2L DE Akera AWD

The Mazda CX-5 deserves a lot more attention than it’s been getting from buyers

WHAT IS IT?

Mazda’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it compact SUV, the Mazda CX-5, deserves a lot more attention than it’s been getting from buyers who can’t ignore the Korean twins, Hyundai’s ix35 (the best-seller in this segment) and Kia’s good-looking Sportage. The range was recently rejigged and a turbodiesel engine added. We’re testing this powertrain in top-spec Akera trim. It costs R465 400, which looks like conspicuously good value compared with its rivals.

HOW DOES IT LOOK?

It’s modern, chunky and purposeful, especially on this model’s massive 19-inch wheels. The white of our test car gives off slight whiffs of large appliance, though – try a dark grey or blue to imbue the CX-5 with a healthy dose of class. Whip out a spy glass and you’ll notice standard LED headlights – they’re super bright at night and light up the road faaaaaar ahead – as well as a glass sunroof, a racy rear spoiler and a tiny camera lens on the rear hatch to relay a crystal clear image to the screen inside when you reverse.

Mazda CX-5

Hop onboard and the good news continues. Most of the materials are plush throughout (there are one or two scratchy plastics, but these are generally out of sight and mind), the leather-covered seats hug your hips in all the right places and large windows display the outside world in full HD. Move further back and the CX-5 comparatively large size pays dividends. There’s loads of legroom in the second row, the doors are large and should make fitting a baby seat a cinch and the luggage bay mirrors a cave. Luckily, the outdated infotainment system has been replaced with the excellent new version as used by the Mazda3. At the same time, additional sound-squashing materials and a sport mode for the auto ‘box were added.

WHAT DOES IT OFFER?

Just about every single luxury your heart could desire… Akera specs nets you a sonorous Bose sound system that can play just about every sound file off every type of hardware, satellite navigation, auto climate control, powered seat adjustment and a full suite of safety features like blind sport monitoring and lane keep assist. Unlike other cars which vibrate the steering wheel to warn you when you’re straying from your lane, the Mazda’s system sends a sound through the speakers that mimics a fog horn. I’m not convinced…

Mazda CX-5

 

HOW DOES IT DRIVE?

Effortlessly. The 2,2-litre diesel is rumbly on start-up, but quickly settles down into a muted thrum, the six-speed auto slurs through the ratios and the ride is surprisingly comfy on such large wheels. There’s loads of body roll, though, so try before you buy to ensure the little ones won’t slime the back of your head after you’ve enthusiastically tackled your favourite mountain pass. Mazda follows a SkyActiv efficiency programme that sets the vehicle up to use as little fuel as possible. It works; during my week with the portly Mazda CX-5, it sipped an average of 6.4 L/100 km of diesel. Impressive! IN

CONCLUSION

Most of the CX-5’s competitors are either more expensive, less powerful or sparsely equipped. This version of the Mazda CX-5 strikes a brilliant balance between value for money, luxury-car features and daily usability. After a few days of driving the Mazda, its presence had started fading from memory. And that’s no criticism – often the best cars are the one that mould into your life so unobtrusively that you stop noticing they’re there. Together with Ford equally excellent Kuga, the Mazda CX-5 is my favourite compact SUV.

WORDS: TERENCE STEENKAMP @Terence_Stp

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