The new, recently divorced from Ford Mazda, has big plans. These plans include not only increasing its market share, but also moving the brand more upmarket. The new Mazda is not afraid to state that it’s sick of competing with the likes of Toyota and Honda. It wants a piece of that extremely elusive German pie…
If it wants to do this, the product had better be good and the pre-divorce CX-5 just wasn’t. The post-divorce CX-5 definitely is.
This is strange, because not much has been done to the car. It still looks and feels the same, but the inclusion of a new engine option has turned the CX-5 into the car it should have been in the first place.
Mid-size SUVs just work better with diesel engines, even more so when said engine is mated to a slick automatic gearbox. Everything is just better that way; torque figures are significantly increased compared to a naturally aspirated petrol engine, while fuel consumption is drastically decreased. It’s a win-win situation.
The turbocharged diesel in the CX-5 is even more impressive than the average diesel-engined Japanese SUV, because it’s as up to date and refined as anything the German manufacturers can offer you.
This was the first thing that struck me after my very short stint behind the wheel of this new model. It’s so smooth and quiet that I wasn’t entirely sure that I was behind the wheel of a diesel model. The only evidence that suggested that it was in fact an oil burner was the rev limiter.
Mazda says this 2,2-litre turbocharged and intercooled unit produces 129kW and 420Nm of torque, which is impressive, but not as impressive as how that power is transferred to the wheels.
The power delivery is marvelously linear and the six-speed automatic transmission suits it perfectly. You have to concentrate to notice the upshifts and when it does gear down, there’s only a momentary lapse in power while the turbo grids its loins. It’s over in a split second and then the CX-5 hurls itself at the horizon, riding that 420Nm wave of torque.
Thanks to this engine, I finally had the opportunity to experience this SkyActive technology Mazda’s been going on about for years. It’s basically just a fancy name for a number of tech that’s supposed to make the CX-5 feel more dynamic than the average SUV.
The 2,0-litre petrol engine always felt strained by the weight of the car, so you never felt the urge to push it a bit, but the diesel engine gives it a new playful character. Suddenly you notice how direct the steering feels and how composed the car feels on the highway, or a twisty piece of road. It’s not an MX-5, but for an SUV it’s very good.
Interior quality and standard specification is very generous and the CX-5 is safe as well. It received the full five stars after the guys at Euro NCAP crashed it into a wall and it scored exceptionally well in the child safety department.
Unfortunately my short time behind the wheel did not include some gravel driving, so I can’t comment on this particular aspect of the CX-5. The inclusion of an all-wheel drive option leads me to believe that it will be fairly capable in this department. Build quality also appears to be very good, so I wouldn’t worry too much about something falling off, or a rattle developing should you decide to stray from the tarred sections of the road.
The CX-5 is now as impressive as it once was forgettable, all thanks to a few new models being added to the range. Other manufacturers might not have worried about this car when it first came out, but it’s now a force to be reckoned with. If Mazda can raise it’s public awareness, this car could make a serious dent in its competitor’s market share.
The 2.2L DE Akera AWD retails for R456 100, which includes a three-year/unlimited km warranty and a three-year/unlimited km service plan.