The all-new Mazda CX-5 has finally arrived. I say ‘finally’, because it’s been some time since Mazda last launched a new car in South Africa. In fact, the last new model from the Japanese manufacturer was the Mazda5 MPV that arrived in late 2010. In 2011, news from the company centered around the Minagi and Takeri concepts, the world premieres of the upcoming BT-50 and this, the new CX-5, as well as the company’s new SkyActiv technology. It’s evident that plenty of development has been underway then, with the Mazda CX-5 being the first all-new SkyActiv product to hit our roads.
The new Mazda CX-5 fills a gap in the company’s line-up that will see it compete for market share in a busy segment, which includes the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Volkswagen Tiguan, Nissan’s Qashqai, Hyundai iX35, Kia Sportage and still more. Mazda hopes its new SkyActiv technology will give the CX-5 the edge it needs to succeed, technology that has seen significant improvements to their chassis, engine and transmission design and which will be implemented on all Mazdas in the foreseeable future.
The Mazda CX-5 has been designed following the new ‘KODO Soul of Motion’ philosophy, first seen with the Shinari concept in 2010. Mazda say the CX-5 was styled with inspiration taken from the movement of the cheetah, but apart from the grille, which looks reminiscent of the big cat’s nose, overall, the CX-5 is more sturdy looking than lithe. A sweeping shoulder-line that originates at the grille, runs over the bonnet and links up with the tail-lights, does give the car a smooth appearance, while the defined angles of the front fog light surrounds, side sills and rear valance provide some athletic charm.
The CX-5 has been introduced in three levels of specification, namely, Active, Dynamic and Individual. At a glance, the Active is identifiable by its 17-inch steel wheels and lack of front fog lights, while the rest of the range sees fog lights added, as well as 17-inch Alloy wheels for the Dynamic and 19-inch wheels on the Individual.
Inside, the Mazda CX-5 has been design with a bias towards sportier driving by SUV standards. White lettering for the driver’s instrumentation marks a departure from the orange-red of old, while various gloss-black and satin chrome finishes add an upmarket feel. The seats are comfortable and supportive up front (cloth upholstery for the Active and Dynamic, with leather for the Individual) and rear legroom is generous. The rear seats can fold flat in a 40:20:40 split configuration to increase boot capacity from 403-litres. Some of the standard kit on offer includes a Radio/CD/MP3-player with USB and Aux-In connections together with satellite controls on the steering wheel, air conditioner and keyless start. The range-topping Individual model, boasts keyless entry, dual zone climate control, touch screen Radio/CD/MP3-player that plays through 9 Bose speakers, as well as front and rear parking sensors with rear view camera.
The CX-5 has a 5-star Euro NCAP safety rating, as all models are equipped with driver and passenger front airbags, side curtain airbags, ABS, EBD, EBA, DSC, hill hold assist and ISOFIX attachment points.
The Mazda CX-5 is the first model to feature the full suite of SkyActiv technologies and as such, is powered by a new 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder, 16-valve petrol engine. With obsessive attention to detail – the likes of which are too lengthy to delve into here – a compression ratio of 13:1, as well as a focus on reducing intake and exhaust temperatures, Mazda engineers have managed to improve fuel consumption by 15 percent. Compared with the previous generation 2.0-litre engine found in the Mazda3 and Mazda6, the SkyActiv-G engine requires less fuel, at 6.8 L/100km (previously 8.0 L/100km), and makes more power with 114 kW (up from 110 kW) and 200 Nm of torque (previously 187 Nm). Only the petrol engine is available initially, with a SkyActiv-D diesel engine set for introduction in 2013.
New 6-speed manual and automatic transmissions have also been designed to work with the SkyActiv-G engine. Lightweight and compact in their designs, the manual offers short throws modelled on those of the legendary MX-5 sports car, combined with an easy clutch action. The gear ratios are relatively tall in the manual ‘box though, meaning you often change down two, sometimes even three, gear ratios when overtaking. The 6-speed automatic has closer ratios, but is a little too eager to kick-down, although the sequential manual mode provides a happy medium.
In terms of ride and handling, the CX-5 uses MacPherson struts in front and a multi-link setup at the rear. The rear suspension’s dampers have been given a forward-tilting layout, which is said to improve ride comfort – a claim that proved legitimate over some of Cape Town’s bumpier tarmac. A newly-developed electric power steering system is well matched to the car’s perceived weight, providing an authentic steering action in relation to driver inputs. A relatively low drag coefficient of 0.33 seems to help in keeping wind noise to a minimum, but the 19-inch alloy wheels on the top-spec Individual model elicited more road noise than expected and noticeably more than the smaller 17-inch units fitted to the Active model, which weren’t an issue.
Mazda are realistic with their aims for the new CX-5, targeting a growth of 5 percent in the compact-SUV segment. With buyers spoilt for choice, Mazda’s fresh design, leading fuel economy, generous interior space, as well as its enjoyable ride and handling, will be its keys to success.
|Price (incl. VAT and C02 tax)|
|Mazda CX-5 2.0 Active M/T||R309 000|
|Mazda CX-5 2.0 Dynamic A/T||R336 900|
|Mazda CX-5 2.0 Individual A/T||R389 500|
Prices include a 4-year/120 000km warranty, 5-year/90 000km service plan and 3-year roadside assistance plan.