REVIEW | The 2020 Mazda CX-5 2.2 DE Akera AWD is a bold soul

26 March 2020 - 12:00
The 2020 Mazda CX-5.
The 2020 Mazda CX-5.
Image: Supplied

Mazda knows a thing or two about overcoming adversity. From the devastating effects of WW2 that left its domestic land and birthplace of Hiroshima in ruins, to the divorce from American monolith Ford in more recent times. There is an indubitable spirit of resilience that defines the company narrative.

We spent a couple of days in the company of its CX-5 in range-topping 2.2 DE Akera AWD specification. It is a vehicle that we are not strangers to. After all, it was a near-identical example of this contender that spent a full six months in our custodianship during the first half of 2018, as the Sowetan Motoring long-term tester.

What has changed since? Well, last year the brand rolled out an assortment of minor tweaks to its popular medium-sized sport-utility vehicle. They really are minor. For example, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality was made standard on the MZD Connect interface system across the range.

On the inside, eagle-eyed aficionados will spot a different air-conditioner panel pattern, plus additional chrome embellishments for the electric window switches and volume dial. See? Really minor.

Outside, the CX-5 still looks as gorgeous as ever, especially when wearing a shade of Soul Red paint. Restyled 19-inch alloys form the extent of the aesthetic revisions – no problem there, why fix what was never broken?

If anything, the weeklong reacquaintance was a good reminder as to why the CX-5 remains one of our most recommended picks in the category. Interior quality could match, if not best products hailing from manufacturers perceived as premium marques. The surfaces of the door panels and tactility of switchgear are simply excellent. As are its road manners.

Sharp styling is a trademark of the CX-5.
Sharp styling is a trademark of the CX-5.
Image: Supplied

Perhaps needless to say, the turbocharged-diesel version is far superior to its naturally aspirated counterparts. With 140kW and 450Nm, there is always a bounty of grunt in reserve for overtaking or steadily maintaining momentum in the thrust of urban settings and on the freeway. The standard six-speed, torque converter automatic works as well as could be required.

Given its ample displacement, it can be thirstier than one usually expects of an oil-burner, with around-town consumption figures that hover towards the 9l/100km. In fairness, that obviously drops a tad on the open road, but we were still unable to get close to its 5.7l/100km claimed figure.

Anyway, generous kit levels remain another of its strong suits. From the Bose audio system, to navigation, a head-up display, luxurious leather upholstery and dual-zone climate control, there is certainly little left to be desired. That is just scratching the surface.

Consider that it also has an electrically operated tailgate and a full suite of driver aids. That includes a blind-spot monitor and lane-keep assistance, the latter noticeably gentler, less intrusive than similar set-ups featuring in peers.

Seeing the CX-5 parked on the driveway during my pre-lockdown visit, my mother seemed absolutely smitten, poring over it curiously. Poor thing. She once owned a Ford Kuga (in flammable 1.6 EcoBoost guise) and has never quite got used to stepping down into a smaller vehicle. She said that once the world emerges from the turmoil of Covid-19 that she would be enquiring about trading in her faithful 2014 Mazda 3 2.0 Astina sedan for its bigger stablemate. Good to have such things to look forward to.

With a lofty price tag of R605,400 for this flagship version, however, such expenditure might fall into the category of a panic buy. Luckily the range starts off at a more reasonable R411,400.