I’m not sure what your perception of Mazda is, but for me I’ve always known they’re good cars. Their engines have been great and over the years some of the coolest modified cars I’ve seen have had Mazda engine transplants thanks to their ability to make huge power. The latest generation of cars wearing the Mazda badge can’t be described as good though, they’re above that. Their build quality, the drive and also their looks have gotten better and better.
I’ve had a few different 2015 models and they’ve all impressed me, but none as much as the new CX5. This thing just does it for me, it looks big and imposing while being modern, it has a great engine and gearbox and the interior is spot on. The colour does make a difference though. I’ve seen a few on the road and while they look good, they don’t stand out as much as the press car does, the Soul Red Mica paint is brilliant in the true sense of the word. When I left the car wash I’m pretty sure it was so bright and in your face that it blinded other road users. I think this colour would also make the new MX5 ultra desirable. The dark 19-inch wheels are a great contrast to the paint, and along with the newly designed grille and fog light surrounds makes for an SUV that’s rather easy on the eyes. Up front the new-style LED headlights have a great design that’s a combo of rounded and angular if that makes any sense. I know it does in my head. Mazda’s KODO design features that are shared across the new range are clearly evident. On the Individual model that I had, the headlights are intelligent – they feature tech called the Adaptive Front-Lighting System (AFS) that allows them to swivel up to 15 degrees in the direction you’re steering to reveal more of your intended course.
The new Mazda CX5 features keyless entry, which I like a lot because you leave the house with the keys tucked safely away and that’s where they stay until you return home from your day’s travels. The cabin of the CX5 is a good place to be too, the dashboard layout and clocks are similar to the other models in the range. This is thanks to KODO – Soul of Motion, Mazda’s name for the interior and exterior styling of all the new generation Mazdas. The layout is good, the brushed ally strip through the middle gives a nice break to the dark dash, the same finish is found on the steering wheel surrounding the multi-function switches and the lower 3rd spoke. The screen for the MDZ Connect system (that can read Facebook and Twitter feeds, play the radio, stream podcasts and more) is the main focal point of the dash and it’s got a cool black leather surround with double stitching. This adds to the quality feel. Below this is the climate control section that offers separate controls for driver and passenger. The main controls for the MZD Connect system can be found in the console between the seats, and as with the rest of the Mazda range, they’re intuitive and easy to master.
The steering wheel is height and reach adjustable and together with the electronically adjustable the driver’s seat a very comfortable position can be achieved. Through the wheel the clocks look good too, a combo of analogue and digital readouts with chrome bezels. They have a look and feel more suited to a sports car than an SUV, but that’s not a complaint mind you. The full leather interior is top notch and the boot space is huge, with a few easy to do changes the rear seats will fold down to increase the boot space from 403-litres to a large 1620-litres. My only complaint about I have is with the driver’s seat, in particular the lower bolsters, They’re quite high like you’d find in a performance car. While they do keep your butt in place, for short guys like me when you slide in and out of the car the bolster sort of pops up between your legs and slaps your man bits. I’m sure this is only a problem for short guys though…
I drove the auto Individual model and the SKYACTIV-Drive 6-speed gearbox is great. It doesn’t hunt for gears as with some auto boxes, it knows which gear is needed when. This is better evident when using cruise control on a long drive; it seamlessly selects gears based on the incline and decline of the road. Together with the super smooth ride and very quiet cabin the Mazda CX5 is just great to drive. I had noticed that the drive was smooth and quiet, but this was confirmed when the kids jumped in the back and within five minutes commented on how smooth the car feels – and that was from a pair of 13-year old girls who have as much car knowledge as I do about My Little Pony. One of my errands run in the car took me to Pretoria, and that allowed me to see what the fuel consumption was like for the 2.5-litre SKYACTIV engine on a bit of a longer road. I was surprised to see that something as large as the CX5 returned figured of just 6.6-litres/100km in 36-degree heat up here at the Reef. I didn’t drive like Miss Daisy either; I was first away from the traffic lights and stuck to legal highway speeds with the odd foot-flat scenario to overtake slower cars. The Mazda CX5 makes very good use of its 141kW and 256Nm. Added to the great drive there’s great safety too; the CX5 has features like a rigid body that integrates a multi-load path structure to redirect crash energy away from the occupant cell, SRS airbags (front, side and curtain), ABS, DSC, ESS (Emergency Stop Signal), Hill Launch Assist and a tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS).
Believe it or not the big SUV handles like a normal sized sedan thanks to the SKYACTIV-Chassis that features many re-designed components including firmer bushings and a completely revised geometry with a highly rigid front suspension setup. The electronic power-assist steering has a better, higher ratio that improves response and makes U-turns and parking a breeze. Very handy for me coz I often ignore my GPS and need to do a U-turn, much to the annoyance of my wife.
This thing is really good, I just with it could be a 4x4 too, it has the size and looks of a capable off road vehicle. The diesel model is available in an all-wheel drive setup, but that’s not quite the same thing of course. It’s not a cheap car, but if you look at its competitors on the market it fits right in where it should. If an SUV is in your future, take a serious look at the Mazda CX5, you won’t be sorry.
The Mazda CX5 starts at from R324 900.00 (Incl. VAT)
Model as tested:
2.5L Individual FWD Automatic MY15 - R416 900.00 (Incl. VAT)
All Mazda CX5 models come standard with:
3-year / unlimited kilometer service plan
3-year / unlimited kilometer warranty
3-year / unlimited kilometer roadside assistance