REVIEW | Why the CX-5 is still Mazda’s most sensible SUV choice

17 June 2021 - 07:48 By denis droppa
Black wheels and side mirrors give the CX-5 Carbon Edition more attitude. Picture: DENIS DROPPA
Black wheels and side mirrors give the CX-5 Carbon Edition more attitude. Picture: DENIS DROPPA

With the SUV and crossover craze in full swing, carmakers are bringing out new models to fill ever new niches. Sometimes these vehicles straddle segments and create confusion in a brand’s line-up, an example being Mazda’s new CX-30.

In terms of size it slots between the brand’s smaller CX-3 and the larger CX-5, but it’s priced almost on par with the latter vehicle. It is smaller but sleeker than the CX-5 and they’re mechanically identical.

Which to choose? Making a call whether to go for the older CX-5 or newer CX-30 comes down to style versus practicality, in similar vein to buyers choosing between a BMW X5 or X6.

Those with larger families and active lifestyles will prefer the CX-5 for its extra boot space, superior legroom and better ride quality.

The CX-30 we road tested a couple of months ago placed more emphasis on zippy handling and had a rather harsh ride on rougher surfaces, whereas the CX-5 we tested more recently wafts more smoothly, feeling less jittery over bumpy roads.

Its handling on the limits is perhaps not as sharp as its smaller cousin, but the CX-5 takes corners very neatly, without any wallowing.

On test here is the Mazda CX-5 Carbon Edition, a recently introduced model priced at R565,800. It’s the top two-wheel drive version in the CX-5 line-up and is stacked with more knick-knacks than the lesser Active and Dynamic derivatives, including a head-up display, powered tailgate, navigation and a fancier 10-speaker Bose sound system.

Along with the six airbags, ABS brakes and stability control that comes standard in every CX-5, the Carbon Edition also lays on a whole gamut of driving aids including lane-keeping assist, blind spot monitoring, adaptive LED headlamps and front and rear parking sensors.

It’s been spruced up with gloss black side mirrors and 19-inch black alloy wheels as per the modern darkening-up trend, giving it a more sporting and purposeful vibe. There’s a choice of six exterior colours: Snowflake White Pearl, Sonic Silver, Machine Grey, Soul Red Crystal, Polymetal Grey and Jet Black.

Inside, the Carbon Edition treatment includes black film on the dashboard and door panels, and red stitching on the steering wheel, gear lever and knee pads. The seats (with electric adjustment for the driver and front passenger) are upholstered in an attractive leather-suede combination and also get red stitching. It’s a styling package that subtly adds some flair to the CX-5’s otherwise monochromatic interior.

The car has all the requisite connectivity via Bluetooth and USB ports. The infotainment can be operated by a knob between the front seats or a dashboard-mounted touchscreen, but the latter can only be used when the car’s stationary (apparently using a physical controller is less distracting than jabbing icons).

The roomy cabin is subtly perked up with leather-suede seats and red stitching. Picture: DENIS DROPPA
The roomy cabin is subtly perked up with leather-suede seats and red stitching. Picture: DENIS DROPPA

As mentioned, the CX-5 makes a better family vehicle than the new CX-30, with superior cabin room that allows four tall adults to stretch out more. The CX-5’s boot is considerably larger too, at 442l versus 295l.

Mazda continues to resist the trend to turbocharged petrol engines (the only turbo model in the CX-5 range is a 2.2 diesel) but the Carbon Edition’s normally-aspirated 2l is sufficiently perky. There’s no real excitement, but good midrange torque keeps the car in its powerband without requiring too much throttle aggression — a good thing given that the four-cylinder engine becomes a little raucous when the revs rise.

It’s an easy cruiser and has enough punch for confidently overtaking long trucks. Apart from the vocal engine at higher rpm, the CX-5 has good all round refinement, with limited wind and road noise, and fuel economy is decent with the test car averaging 8.7l / 100km.

In summary, the CX-5 is the more sensible choice in Mazda’s SUV range. It may not be as eye-catching a temptress as the coupe-like CX-30, but neither has it succumbed to middle-aged spread. It’s aged well, and its superior practicality is kept on trend with its new styling package.


Tech Specs

ENGINE

Type: Four-cylinder petrol

Capacity: 1,958cc

Power: 121kW

Torque: 213Nm

TRANSMISSION

Type: Six-speed automatic

DRIVETRAIN

Type: Front-wheel drive

PERFORMANCE 

Top speed: N/A

0-100km/h: 10.4 seconds (claimed)

Fuel Consumption: 6.9l/100km (claimed); 8.7l/100km (as tested)

Emissions: 160g/km

STANDARD FEATURES

ABS brakes, stability control, six airbags, infotainment system, electric mirrors, electric windows, head-up display, powered tailgate, navigation, 10-speaker Bose sound system, lane-keeping assist, blind spot monitoring, adaptive LED headlamps, front and rear parking sensors, automatic aircon, trip computer, rain sensor wipers, high beam assist, suede and artificial leather seats, cruise control

Warranty: Three years/unlimited km

Maintenance plan: Three years/unlimited km

Price: R565,800

Lease*: R12,116

*at 10% interest over 60 months no deposit

Mazda CX-5 2.0 Carbon Edition

WE LIKE: Space, practicality, high level of features 

WE DISLIKE: Engine noise at higher rpm

VERDICT: Mazda’s family-friendly SUV choice

Motor News star rating

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COMPETITION

Mazda CX-30 2.0 Individual, 121kW/213Nm — R540,000

Toyota Rav4 2.0 VX, 127kW/203Nm — R574,700

VW Tiguan 1.4 TSi Comfortline R-Line, 110kW/250Nm — R588,500

Hyundai Tucson 2.0 Premium, 115kW/196Nm — R501,900

Kia Sportage 2.0 EX Plus, 115kW/196Nm — R587,995

Honda CR-V 2.0 Elegance, 113kW/189Nm — R589,700

Peugeot 3008 1.6T Allure, 121kW/240Nm — R574,900


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