While the CX-5 accounts for about a third of all company sales on the global front, Mazda as a whole has seen some better days in the Mzansi market. Gone are the days when its main product lines – 2, 3, 5, 6 and later the CX range all sold in the three digits each, monthly. Today the entire company is selling around 300 cars on a good month, including this CX-5 in Carbon Edition guise.

The Japanese company sure can build cars of a high quality, cars that are delightful to look at and ones that last a very long time. Mazda customers don’t often have to buy new cars if they are not interested. The CX-5 – now slightly updated – is one such Mazda vehicle. Looks have not been an issue for the car, with its large, “smiley” dark front grille with integrated LED headlights that have an auto-levelling function.

Mazda added a sporty element for this Carbon Edition, namely the 19-inch black metallic alloy wheels. The black side mirrors fold automatically upon locking, which also happens automatically once the car cannot detect the key. Mazda decorated the window frame with a chrome strip at the bottom from the A to C pillars. The rear end remains simple, featuring a single wiper, a roof spoiler with brake a light, slimline rear lights and three badges in a shiny metal alloy: CX-5, Mazda emblem and SkyActivG. Although a button-operated power tailgate is listed as a feature for Carbon Edition, our unit did not have it.

This Japanese brand still knows how to execute attractive, solid interiors, despite several shortcomings. Faux leather covered seats all around, with electric adjustability for driver and front passenger are installed. Touch points are well-placed, feel good to the fingers and do not give any hints of cheapness. Mazda excels at this. Where they are falling short is in the infotainment space. The CX-5 Carbon Edition has a class-trailing 20.3cm display screen with radio, USB, satellite navigation and Bluetooth connectivity among others. To add to that, it is not touch activated; one still has to use a toggle located at the centre console to access features. Not exactly current. We liked the 10-speaker BOSE sound system though; it provided high levels of clarity and power, without compromising on quality.

It does not end there. We believe the bigger problem Mazda faces right now is the lack of modern, powerful but relatively frugal powertrains. The car we drove features a naturally aspirated (no turbo) 2.0-litre petrol engine said to make 121kW, which sounds good on paper. However, keep in mind that IN4RIDE is based in Gauteng where over half of Mzansi cars are sold and the altitude is around 1 600m above sea level. That means an engine of this nature can lose up to 17% of its power, meaning in reality you are getting the benefit of only 100kW instead of the full 121kW. And it feels like that.

Acceleration (see Quick Stats at the bottom) is lethargic and overtaking laborious. Even the engagement of Sport mode does not assist. As a result, fuel consumption shoots up to levels befitting much more powerful cars. Six-speed automatic transmissions have been pretty good over the past 15 years, and this one is also par for the course. But competitors are now playing with eight or 10 cogs, and Mazda has again been left behind.

Mazda has made a high quality product in the CX-5. Build is firm, used materials are of a high standard and it is an attractive SUV in the segment. Where it falls short is in the infotainment system and the powertrain.



ENGINE: 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder, naturally aspirated petrol

POWER: 121kW at 6 000rpm

TORQUE: 213Nm at 4 000rpm

GEARBOX: 6-speed automatic


0 – 100KM/H: 12.1 seconds

TOP SPEED: 200km/h

AVERAGE FUEL CONSUMPTION: 9.3 litres per 100km

FUEL TANK SIZE: 56 litres


CO2 e: 160 g/km



NATURAL RIVALS: Chery Tiggo 8 Pro 290T, Citroen C5 Aircross, Haval H6 2.0 Luxury, Honda CR-V 2.0, Hyundai Tucson 2.0 Elite, Kia Sportage 1.6T GT-Line, Mahindra XUV700 AX7L, Mitsubishi Outlander GLS, Renault Koleos 2.5, Toyota RAV4 2.0 VX, Volkswagen Tiguan 1.4 TSI

PRICE RIVALS: Audi A3 sedan 35 TFSI, BAIC B40 Plus, BMW 118i, Nissan Qashqai Acenta Plus, Peugeot 3008 Allure, Renault Koleos, Toyota Fortuner 2.4 GD-6, Toyota Quantum 2.8

SERVICE PLAN: 3-year/unlimited km

WARRANTY: 3-year/unlimited km



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