Ex­plore the city

BRIAN BAS­SETT dis­cov­ers Mar­itzburg’s best views in a Mazda CX5

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING -

MAZDA has been in South Africa for many years, but in the shadow of Ford. Many South Africans have thought of Mazda as a Ford with a dif­fer­ent badge and slowly the brand has di­min­ished in promi­nence. Mazda South Africa has now launched a come­back on the South African mar­ket as a pre­mium brand which tar­gets that end of the mar­ket look­ing for dis­tinc­tive prod­ucts with good re­sale value, but is re­luc­tant to pay Ger­man prices.

The dis­tinc­tive Mazda range in­cludes the CX5, a com­pact SUV which will chal­lenge oth­ers in a fast-grow­ing South African mar­ket seg­ment and my thanks to Faizal Hoosen, New Ve­hi­cle Sales Man­ager at Bar­loworld Mazda in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg for al­low­ing me a few days to fa­mil­iar­ize my­self with the ve­hi­cle.

Styling

The CX5 is de­signed by well­known Ja­panese de­signer Masashi Nakayama and is a world car for Mazda be­ing pro­duced in places as far apart Malaysia and Rus­sia.

It has an ath­letic and dis­tinc­tive de­sign and is never hard to find in a shop­ping cen­ter car park. The front end has swept back head­light mod­ules, flank­ing a cen­trally-placed five-bar shield grill, with Mazda badge; as well as an in­te­grated bumper with lower air in­takes flanked by fog lamps. Preda­tory is too force­ful a word for the front end, but there is cer­tainly a feel­ing of ag­gres­sion, which adds to the over­all no-non­sense de­sign in­tent. The sides have sweep­ing lines and con­tours which give char­ac­ter to the ve­hi­cle, while the rear is largely oc­cu­pied by the fold up door, which makes load­ing easy and dom­i­nated in de­sign terms by the large tail light clus­ters.

The two ex­haust pies, in­te­grated into the rear bumper and flanked by brake lights add a sporty feel to rear of the car. The colour-coded side mir­rors are elec­tri­cally op­er­ated and for those of us who have had mir­rors scratched in car parks while we shop, the fact that the mir­rors can be folded back to­wards the ve­hi­cle is a real plus.

The CX5 is a ve­hi­cle with grace, poise and char­ac­ter and will speak to the good taste of its owner.

In­te­rior

The CX5’s in­te­rior I found wellde­signed, wel­com­ing, well put to­gether and spa­cious.

Qual­ity fin­ishes, com­fort­able seats cov­ered in soft leather, an elec­tri­cally –ad­justable driver’s seat and a leather-wrapped, fully-ad­justable, mul­ti­func­tion steer­ing wheel char­ac­ter­ize the in­te­rior.

The cli­mate con­trol knobs and but­tons are sim­ple and easy to use. The main fea­ture of the cen­tral stack is the seven-inch touch screen which con­trols the Bose 9-speaker ra­dio/CD/Aux jack/USB port/Blue­tooth and Sat­nav sys­tems, some of which are also con­trolled from the steer­ing wheel. The wheel also con­trols el­e­ments like the trip com­puter and cruise con­trol and its in­for­ma­tion but­ton is par­tic­u­larly use­ful.

The in­stru­ment panel is de­signed for driver com­fort and driv­ing safety. The gauges are di­rectly in front of the driver and can be viewed with­out look­ing away from the road.

The leather-cov­ered hand­brake and gear lever are also a plea­sure to op­er­ate and the stop/ start but­ton is easily reached.

The rear seat space is ex­cel­lent and the CX5 takes 5 adults in great com­fort.

The 4 adults who rode with on Satur­day af­ter­noon in­cluded two portly gen­tle­men, who in­formed me that they had never been more com­fort­able at the rear of a ve­hi­cle and the du­al­zone cli­mate con­trol sys­tem they found reaches pas­sen­gers at the rear al­most in­stan­ta­neously.

For the fam­ily hol­i­day the boot of­fers 403liters of space with the rear seats in place, but with these folded down in 40:20:40 split the flat sur­face ex­posed can easily take 4 sets of golf clubs and sev­eral um­brel­las.

Safety and se­cu­rity

The CX5 is a 5-star Euro N/CAP ve­hi­cle. So your fam­ily is as safe as pos­si­ble in this car. It has all the safety fea­tures you need for safe driv­ing. Six driver, pas­sen­ger cur­tain and side airbags, ABS with EBD, Dy­namic Sta­bil­ity Con­trol, Hill Launch As­sist, a very use­ful Lane Keep As­sist for those of us in­clined to stray out of our lane on highways. There are also park­ing sen­sors and my own favourite-the re­vers­ing cam­era. The list goes on to in­clude some 22 sep­a­rate safety items in­clud­ing cen­tral lock­ing and an on-board alarm sys­tem.

Per­for­mance and han­dling

The 2,5-litre in-line, four-cylin­der 16valve petrol en­gine in the CX5 de­liv­ers 141 kW of power and 256 Nm of torque.

Fuel con­sump­tion is around 8,5 l/100 km in the com­bined cy­cle, but, as with all SUV’s, this rises quite quickly in off road driv­ing. 0 to 100 km/h comes up in around 9,5 sec­onds and top speed is close to 200 km/h.

In town and on tar Mazda’s elec­tri­cally-boosted steer­ing has just the right weight­ing and good, on-cen­ter feel which makes driv­ing a plea­sure.

The high ride, ex­cel­lent vis­i­bil­ity and var­i­ous park­ing toys al­ready men­tioned make the CX5 a safe and plea­sur­able mom’s taxi, while the Sat­nav and the peppy en­gine make for great times on hol­i­day.

On Sun­day morn­ing the Wit­ness Mo­tor­ing Editor, Al­wyn Viljoen and I took the CX5 of­froad onto the forestry trails be­tween Claren­don and Lin Park High School on Zwartkops Road.

The car per­formed ex­cel­lently and con­firmed once again in my mind that what is re­quired in an SUV is height and ad­e­quate power rather than 4X4 ca­pa­bil­ity.

Price and com­pe­ti­tion

The CX5 comes in six mod­els, start­ing with a 2,0 Ac­tive at R320 000, 2.2DE AWD Ak­era costs R466 000 and 2.5 In­di­vid- ual I drove re­tails for R410 000.

All mod­els come with a three­year un­lim­ited km war­ranty, ser­vice plan and road­side as­sis­tance.

Also have a look at Honda CR-V,Toy­ota Rav4, Nissan Qashqai and VW Tiguan.

PHOTO: AL­WYN VILJOEN

The Mazda CX5 is a soft­roader, but still per­fectly able to tra­verse the rough dirt roads above the city.

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