Explore the city
BRIAN BASSETT discovers Maritzburg’s best views in a Mazda CX5
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.
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.
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.
The Mazda CX5 is a softroader, but still perfectly able to traverse the rough dirt roads above the city.