New Mazda CX-5 Akera is an impressive package

Sometimes a divorce can be good for everyone involved and this is amply demonstrated in the way the Mazda products have improved since the carmaker split from Ford.

001-off-my-wheelsBrian Joss – It is clearly evident in the changes made to the new CX-5 which was first launched in 2012 – and technology has advanced at a rapid rate in those four short years.

I had just returned the Mazda2 after a trouble-free 3 000km road trip when the compact crossover SUV- the  CX-5 2.2 DE Akera AWD to give it its full nomenclature arrived on my doorstep. Incidentally, the Mazda2 was recently voted “supermini”  of the year in the 2016 UK Car of the Year awards.

However, back to the CX-5.  Overall the CX-5 is an impressive package and the flagship Akera which I drove is an all-wheel drive, which makes it suitable for off-road driving, but I don’t think in really rough stuff. The toughest terrain buyers of the CX-5 are likely to attempt is pavement hopping at their nearest shopping mall.  However, it proved to be quite capable on some rutted gravel roads I found on a detour off one of my regular routes, which includes some twisty mountain passes and the open road.

Pumping out 129kW the turbo-diesel. a real powerhouse, delivers a massive 420Nm from  2000rpm to the four wheels through a smooth-shifting six-speed automatic transmission.

Featuring the Active Torque  all-wheel drive system, the SUV is clearly aimed at tarred roads.  There is no lag whatsoever in the two-stage turbo and accelerator response is almost immediate.  The automatic transmission fits the engine like a glove. And if figures are your bag, Mazda says the CX-5 can reach 100km/h in 9.4 seconds.

If the CX-5 hadn’t had the suffix DE I would not have believed it was an oil-burner. So quiet it was and no tell-tale diesel thrum came through to the well-insulated cabin. In fact my (non)driving partner and I had a bit of a “discussion” about whether it was diesel.  The steering is light and responsive and the CX-5 goes where you point the nose. Road-holding is excellent, the ride is comfortable and Akera takes the pot holes in its stride. And it’s fun to drive. Always a plus in my book. The Akera also boasts Mazda’s SkyActiv  technology to help to make it more dynamic and driver friendly.

Fuel consumption is reasonable: although Mazda Southern Africa quotes 5.7 litres/100km I calculated I was getting just under 8litres/100 km, and that included some heavy traffic and stop-start driving. But with a lighter foot on the throttle you could do better.

Compared to the Mazda2 the CX-5 is enormous: it is 2700mm long with more than enough head and leg-room for rear seat passengers too. And there were no adverse comments from the peanut gallery about the lack of space. Luggage capacity is 400 litres, but not up there with some of its competitors, the smaller Nissan Qashqai and the Honda CR-V (both tested). If you need more load room just use a few levers to flatten the back bench seat (into the usual 40:20:40 split). Beneath the boot floor is a temporary spare wheel.

Inside, the quality is excellent, with the controls well placed and within easy reach of the driver. Standard equipment on the Akera includes a lane departure warning system and a 5.8 colour touchscreen (the MZD Connect infotainment system), which in my opinion, seemed a bit outdated, even though you have access to internet radio streaming and the social network services. The Bose sound system will provide plenty of music to drive by.

SatNav is standard on the Akera. As in the Mazda2 the figures on the usual gauges are hard to read, especially in bright sunlight. New on the CX-5 is the electronic parking brake.  Other standard features on the  Akera include a reverse camera, keyless entry and pushbutton starting, rain-sensing wipers, parking sensors front and back,  leather upholstery and an electrically adjustable driver’s seat, to name a few. You can also let the sun shine in through the sunroof. The Akera has ABS with EBD, brake assist, hill start assist, traction/stability control, six airbags and IsoFix child-seat points. Build quality was good too, there were no squeaks or rattles.

Summing up, the Akera is  miserly enough with fuel to make it a good proposition for the daily commute and of course long-distance motoring and it’s loaded with features.

Although it is not cheap the price  is in line with flagships in the competition’s line-up. Be prepared to pay R474 700 for The CX-5 2.2 DE Akera AWD which includes a 3-year unlimited kilometre factory warranty,  3-year roadside assistance, a 3-year service plan and a 5-year corrosion warranty.

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