Reviews

Mazda CX-5

We fall in love again

Mazda has had such an a passive aggressive campaign for the CX-5 and it’s success can be measured in my disappointment when I saw the silver car pull up because in my head, I was going to get the colour they call Soul Red Crystal. Well done Mazda. You see, this is the colour of choice for most of their ads. The power of advertising.

This car is amazing. Doing what we do, I get to drive a lot of cars that are and do a lot of things but non have so far done it as completely and as coherently as the Mazda CX-5. If you take it apart, it’s many parts in isolation are not spectacular, but as a package, cars twice the price will be found wanting.

It is a technological tour de force. We have been driving raft of high end German cars this month with a starting point of R800,000.00 and all of them feel naked when you jump out of the CX-5 into them. I’ll attempt to list some of the many features we got explore.

LED headlamps
LED front fog lamps
Auto headlamp levelling
Auto headlamps
19” Alloy wheels
Dual zone air-conditioner (rear ventilation)
7 Inch display – MZD connect system
Bluetooth hands free
Radio / CD / Aux / USB
USB for rear centre armrest
Cruise control
40:20:40 folding rear seats
ISOFix
Hill Launch Assist (HLA)
Push-button keyless start
Privacy glass
Leather seats
Audio controls on steering wheel
Electronic parking brake
Rain sensing wipers
Reverse camera
Auto door lock
Driver & passenger seat – 8-way power adjustable
Adaptive LED headlamps
BOSE® 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) – front and rear
Driver Attention Alert (DAA)
Head-Up Display (HUD) – window type
Satellite navigation
Powerlift tail gate
AWD (All Wheel Drive)

How impressive is that list? I drive a high-end limo without most of these features.
The way in which these features come together to give you an impressive car is just short of astounding. What leaves me gobsmacked is to have those features at the price point Mazda South Africa has pegged this model? How do they do it? They are either losing money on every vehicle sold (unlikely) or other manufacturers are taking the Mickey ( why if so).

I am not a fan of the sound the Diesel engine makes. It is intrusive and Mazda needs to improve on the sound deadening of the cabin. The motor itself is responsive, has a smooth power delivery and the automatic gearbox has ratios engineered to match the expected smoothness in motion. It is really easy to drive. It is by no means a sprinter, but is rather more akin to a middle distance runner in a tailored suit.

I found the heads up display intrusive at the beginning and by the third day I had bothered to read the manual and adjustment were made and it became a part of my daily motoring. The danger of the display is I am afraid people will miss the warning lights on the actual dashboard should they ever come on because it becomes so natural to look dead ahead and see your speed, speed limit and navigation arrow when in use.

I also deactivated the lane keeping assist, a great feature for driving long distances to help you stay safe should you doze off but annoying for an experienced driver in Johannesburg’s cut throat traffic. Just coming out of winter, I found the air conditioning too cold and battled to find the optimal setting for myself, and this is a good problem In the South African heat.

I spent some time researching the vehicles that the Mazda CX-5 is size and price pegged against and I cannot understand why this vehicle doesn’t sell in high volumes. It is a superb vehicle. I know South Africans buy for brand prestige and status mostly but a common sense buy will have this heads and shoulders over its competitors.

I had to read up the technical specifications of this the 2.2 AWD top of the range model to make sure that this wasn’t just another highly specced press car to garner sympathetic write ups. This car is the real deal. In a world of me too, this is an automotive secret Mazda South Africa needs to share with everyone . This one gets my vote

Mr Low Benz

 

My first thoughts when seeing the new Mazda CX-5 were positive ones. The shape had improved drastically from the previous one. The front of the car left me totally marvelled. It has some touches that remind one of some British exotics. The exterior of the car does not necessary jump at you but when you do pay attention to it, you realise and appreciate the beautiful styling. A lot of thought went into it. I found that this is a general theme in the CX-5 – a very well thought out car.

My test of the Mazda CX-5 took place in and around Gauteng. Many of you may already know that I am not a resident of Gauteng so I was there for four days and in these four days I had a choice between two test cars. I was planning to drive the Mazda to the corner shop then drop it off and stay with the other car for the weekend but after I had a drive in it for a kilometre everything changed, I didn’t want to let go!

Mr Low Benz has already mentioned all the technical side worth knowing on the Mazda. Let me now take you through how the Mazda CX-5 works as a lifestyle car. One of my reasons for coming to Gauteng was to meet a lovely young lady who would be showing me around GP. We had a series of activities lined up, from going to grab doughnuts to having a picnic at some lake. This meant that the car was going to go through tar roads as well as some dust road driving.

I set off to go pick her up so our weekend adventures would begin. Before getting to her, I asked her for the address of the place we would be going to and I fed the Mazda’s navigation system with it and turned off the navigations audio prompts and moved the digital display on the centre console to audio system which was playing off my iPhone. This meant that the directions from the navigation would only be fed on the heads up display. Not only would I be the only one that can see them clearly, this meant that I would not even take my eyes off the road so no one in the car would realise we are following navigation directions. I looked like I knew my way around Jozi. Needless to say, after taking shortcuts and roads that she didn’t know she was very impressed and I got “wow, you really great with directions hey!”. I winked at the Mazda after this comment.

These kind of features in a car that cost less than R600 000 is pretty impressive. What I like best is that you could adjust and customize that to suit your preferences. Besides making you look supercool and like someone that is really good with directions this also makes the journey more enjoyable for passengers and makes the navigation less intrusive. While passengers in the car enjoyed their music and selected their favourite tunes one could still follow the navigation directions from the heads up display.

The ride comfort in the Mazda is exceptional; I really enjoyed being in it and driving from one location to the next. The Bose sound system sounds fantastic and has concert like surround sound but it really left me disappointed because I felt as though it could handle and should have delivered louder volumes. The sound is loud enough for the average driver but for a few like myself who enjoy premium sound, I was left wishing the Bose in the system could give me more. Our drive to the lakeside was on gravel road and the Mazda managed to smoothen out almost every bump.

Our last destination was a mall where we would grab some doughnuts and a few groceries for a home cooked dinner. The hands-free opening/closing boot is a great shopping complex parking lot trick. When we reversed out of the parking lot the CX-5 took an opportunity to show off another feature. While we were backing out of our parking spot one of the car guards suddenly appeared behind the car to help us reverse and the Mazda assumed that he was about to be ran over and automatically stopped. This is an awesome safety feature especially for those with young children who run all over the show.

I ended my weekend at a local shisa nyama with the MzansiRides team, boot opened and we enjoyed some local freshly braai’d meat. If there was one place where I thought the Mazda would struggle it would be here: STREET CRED! But surprisingly the CX-5 had presence. It reminded me how Mazdas from past generations were street kings and enjoyed a lot of love and respect all over Mzansi.

The only other thing about the Mazda that truly left me disappointed was with the Sunroof. It came with one of those small rectangle sunroofs which was even smaller than the generic size sunroof in a small hatch. A full panoramic sunroof would make more sense in this car. With all of the features on offer in this car the old-school sunroof certainly feels out of place. A note for the facelift perhaps?

Fuel consumption averaged at an impressive 7l per 100km even with the mix of driving styles between the team as we shared testing duties.

The CX-5 is an impressive package; It is really difficult not to fall in love with it. Mazda is on the right direction in reclaiming its “darling of the people” title once again.

Marcus Phathwa

Pricing
CX-5 2.0 Active                               R386 600
CX-5 2.0 Active Auto                       R398 600
CX-5 2.0 Dynamic                           R412 000
CX-5 2.0 Dynamic Auto                   R424 000
CX-5 2.0 Individual Auto                  R480 700
CX-5 2.2DE Active Auto                  R469 700
CX-5 2.5 AWD Individual Auto        R543 800
CX-5 2.2DE AWD Akera Auto         R571 300

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