IT’S HARD to decide which mid-size SUV is the best buy in South Africa. There are so many of the things that you tend to forget about most of them when writing a road test.
This time I did it properly. Next to my PC is a list of the 23 contenders on the market, which is a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because I can easily compare the Mazda CX-5 to its main rivals, but it’s also a curse because there’s not a single car on it that’s woeful enough to remove from the get-go in order for me to whittle the list down to a workable number.
So, what we have here is undoubtedly the toughest segment in South Africa. Every new contender has to defend against the advances of 22 competitor products. It’s not easy, but it is doable. I spent a week with the CX-5 and I can tell you that it’s definitely somewhere near the top of this substantial pile.
The CX-5 has been available in South Africa for little over a year now, so there’s no real reason to test it other than a new stop/start system Mazda recently made available as standard across the range. But first, let’s do a recap of the car itself before my attempt at making a stop/start system sound interesting.
The CX-5 utilises a 2.0-litre petrol engine that incorporates Mazda’s green SkyActiv technologies. It’s a silky smooth powertrain with 114kW and 200Nm on tap. When mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox, Mazda claims an impressive fuel consumption figure of 6.9 litres/100km. With me in the driving seat it dipped just below 9.0 litres/100km, which isn’t exactly frugal, but not at all bad for a petrol-powered SUV.
The stand-out feature on the CX-5 is undoubtedly the quality and comfort levels of the interior. Everything you touch has a solid feel to it and the door makes a pleasing thump when you slam it. Suffice it to say that kids will have a hard time doing any kind of damage to the cabin.
The ride quality also plays its part in making the Mazda feel as solid as a piece of granite. The suspension is set up just right in my opinion. It has a certain sportiness that I like, but not so much that it ruins the ride.
A decent amount of technology is included as standard, which is something I’ve noted more and more in this specific segment. Mazda treats its driver and passengers to keyless entry, full leather and heated seats (with electric adjustment for the driver) as well as the obligatory sound system with all the necessary plug-ins. These are but a few items found as standard on the top-of-the-line Individual model.
And then there’s Mazda’s Smart Idle Stop System (SISS), fitted as standard across the range. It’s basically a stop/start system, which saves up to 10% on fuel consumption in heavy traffic and urban areas.
It’s different from all the other stop/start systems, because it doesn’t rely on the engine to restart via the same process as when you start the car up. SISS restarts the engine through combustion. Mazda’s system injects fuel directly into the cylinder while the engine is stopped and ignites it to generate downward piston force when you remove your foot from the brake.
It’s boring techno-talk, I know, but it works. It’s the best stop/start system I’ve come across and by far the easiest to live with day-to-day.
I suppose the best advice as far as SUVs are concerned is to go check them all out and decide which one suits your lifestyle best. With 23 candidates, the possibility of finding the right car for you is 100%.