See all of ‘Seffrica’ in the CX5
Mazda’s old and new cross-overs are jaw-droppers, but the new one yaws less around corners
ONLY at one point on a 1 000 km run did the ruts prove too rough for the suspension of the Mazda CX5 — and that was on a cow path heading down to the waves in Coffee Bay.
To be fair, even the local mare stepped carefully down this path to sniff at the CX5 — perhaps smelling all that ‘jinba ittai’ spirit of a horse and its rider that Mazda tries to imbue all its cars with.
Having driven long gravel roads through the Free State and down the De Beers pass to get to those ruts, we knew the CX5 can and does do dirt roads.
We steered the outgoing CX5 along these roads to compare it to the new CX5, which was launched on the skidpan at the Gerotek vehicle test centre in Pretoria West last week.
The passengers in the outgoing model — all adults with long legs — loved the comfort of the back seats, but I can now testify the new Mazda CX5 is even more comfortable on the long road, thanks to G-force control that ensures passengers in the back go around corners with the least amount of yaw, even if the driver tries to make their jaws drop.
The unchanged engine also remain a joy. Power from the 2,2 diesel is 129kW and there is more than enough torque at 420Nm.
Mazda said at the launch it has refined every element of the new CX5’s design and technology; “raising the bar for the line-up’s combination of fuel efficiency, driving fun, award-winning looks and top-class safety”.
These updates are importamt as the CX5 accounts for about one quarter of Mazda’s global sales volume.
Feature updates on the 2017 CX-5 include LED head and front fog lamps, auto headlamp levelling, newly designed 17” alloy wheels, rear ventilation, USB for rear centre armrest and auto door lock from the Active petrol derivative.
The new 19-inch alloy wheels look good in their arches and inside the leather seats provide eight-way power adjustable settings.
Little details I appreciate most in the new CX5 is how the start button no longer hides behind the steering wheel, but has been moved an inch lower to be more visible; and in the Dynamic model the mirrors fold automatically when the vehicle shuts down.
Still irritating me is the auto stop start, which has to be turned off if you want to be able to slip into gaps during peak hour. Keep auto off on, and the half-a-second it takes to start will see the gap close again.
More impressive are in the CX5 Individual model are the 10speaker Bose sound system, a head-up display, a powerlift tail gate, as well as the Smart City Brake Support (SCBS) and Driver Attention Alert (DAA) advanced safety features.
Mazda’s tried and tested ergonomic cabin layout ensures that each button is where your probing finger expects to find it in the dark, and the lane departure assist keeps the crossover SUV neatly in the middle of the road even around bends. It does demand a hand on the wheel every few seconds though, so this is not fully autonomous driving, yet.
All this should hint that Mazda is no longer the cheap and cheerful brand name established by the ever-willing 323.
Instead, Mazda now aims to make premium cars that can take on the German triumvirate of Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz in terms of luxuries and performance, and because most people order a 2-litre petrol, Mazda now also offers the CX5 2 Dynamic with an automatic transmission.
The whole range of the new CX5 adopts the first of the Skyactiv-Vehicle Dynamics, which is a motion control programme that uses G-Vectoring Control to smooth out jaw and sway during even harsh driving.
As Mazda explained: “This innovative software-based system controls body roll for better handling, while suspension and powertrain improvements facilitate superior ride quality.”
Also new is Mazda’s next-generation premium colour palette; with the Soul Red Crystal sure to be a winner, but I expect only panel beaters with a Spies Hecker spray booth will truly appreciate the realistic metallic feel created by a deep translucent body, contrasting shadows and a high-density finish. Locally the seven model line-up has a choice of three Skyactiv engines — a 2,0 or a 2,5-litre petrol, or a 2,2 diesel with an automatic transmission.
CX5 prices starts at R379 900 and the top of the range 2,2 DE Akera AWD Auto model we drove sells for R557 500, compared to the outgoing model that sold for R541 400.
To my mind, the sweet spot is in the middle, at R416 900 for the new 2-litre Dynamic sixspeed auto.
The new Mazda CX-5 model range will be available from June 1 at all Mazda dealers, but the outgoing model had one of its best months during its run out, so don’t expect a buyers’ market.
Mazda’s ‘jinba ittai’ spirit, the connection between horse and rider, possibly attracted this horse near Coffee Bay.