Words and images by Andrew Middleton
It’s last year’s model, but we’re impressed. The new one’s even better
At SA4x4, we don’t often get a Mazda to play with – they’re clearly too busy building small city hatchbacks to give us a proper 4×4. Of course, there is the Mazda BT-50, which is in fact a brilliant machine based on the best-selling T6 Ranger, but actual people don’t buy it because it resembles a gummy-bear melting in the sun. What Mazda is designing properly at present are their softroaders, chief among them the CX-5. To my mind, it’s one of the most under-rated vehicles on sale today.
Admittedly, the one we have here to test is the ‘old’ one – last year’s model, lacking the new grille and interior updates. But, under the skin, nothing has changed. Our top-spec 2.2-litre diesel is around R90k more expensive than the lower-spec diesel only available in front wheel-drive form, and on our warm, grippy roads, that extra dosh may seem hard to justify spending – until you drive one. The ninety or so thousand extra you’ll have spent to get the top-spec AWD ‘Akera’ model buys you a variety of upgrades. The engine will be boosted to all of 129kW (from 110kW) without affecting fuel economy, while the interior gets all the modern trimmings one expects at the price – like sat-nav, a reversing camera, and an awesome Bose sound system.