Most people buy in the bottom and middle of the crossover range but what is happening at the top? Ritchie Mazda gave me the AWD Akera to drive to see what its range topper has to offer.
All the bells and whistles
I'm not going to delve too deep into the CX-5's look because we have been there before and those suffering from Alzheimer's can look at the picture. It is a good looking vehicle! The 19-inch alloys have a stunning design and compliment the vehicle perfectly.
Inside the quality of materials and their faultless fit put Mazda's traditional rivals to shame. Stitched leather inserts in the dash, centre console and door panels are surrounded by soft touch plastics. Also, being the flagship of the CX-5 range, the Akera comes with all the bells and whistles as standard spec.
The features list for all CX-5's are really long so I will just name those extra special ones which come with the Akera:
In the CX-5 Akera you get Mazda's 2.2-litre SKYACTIV-D turbo-diesel under the bonnet. This unit is good for 129kW at 4500rpm and 420Nm at 2000rpm. It is driven through a smooth 6-speed auto that always knows which gear it has to be in.
Although quite big and boosted by a turbo, it is a 'relaxed' engine. It doesn't have the nippy performance in town which some smaller turbo-diesels have but on the open road it has a mature feel to it and will make light work of pulling loaded trailer, something the small engines will struggle with.
Mazda claims 5.9 litres/100km which gives the car a 983km rage from its 58-litre tank, but I thing a figure closer to 7-litres to 100km is more realistic.
As for the all-wheel drive setup, you hardly feel the difference on the steering. The turning circle is still relatively tight and where you point the nose the car goes without hesitation.
With that said, the CX-5 Akera AWD has a price tag of R474 700, which is 60K above the 2.5 petrol Individual model. Spec for spec these two are a match, so think carefully about whether you really need an all-wheel drive crossover.
I like the CX-5's interior quality and finish, and I like the big turbo-diesel under the bonnet. I also like the barrage of standard convenience and safety features of the vehicle. I would have liked the rear of the cabin to be more airy and open but this is the way crossover designs are heading.
If you drive dirt roads on a regular basis the all-wheel drive will come in handy but for normal use the front-wheel drive Individual will do just fine, its big naturally aspirated petrol engine having adequate performance.
For those who wants a diesel, the 2.2 turbo-diesel engine can also be had in the CX-5 DE Active Auto which is only R385 900. The CX-5 range has something for everybody.