By Suave Otieno
Mazda gave its popular CX-5 SUV a mild update last year, enabling the CX-5 rise to the top of its class with its tight rear quarters and cargo space.
Visually, the updated CX-5 gets a revised headlight cluster that now features rectangular LED lights and a new-look front grille. Inside, there are some trim material updates with woodgrain and Nappa leather, while the cabin has been enhanced ergonomically with redesigned seats and a new drive select switch.
Under the skin, the 6-speed automatic transmission has been updated to be more responsive and deliver smoother acceleration. The suspension has been enhanced to reduce vibrations and road noise. All-wheel drive is now standard across the range, which will please those who enjoy driving off the beaten track and provide additional stability in slippery conditions.
The new-gen motors feature SkyActiv-G petrol and SkyActiv-D diesel technology, as well as the new SkyActiv-X compression ignition hybrid petrol engine. One of the new motors will have a displacement of 3.0 litres and given the size increase, it is clear Mazda is pushing hard into the premium space. It’s not confirmed yet for the sub-Saharan market, but rumours are strong the CX-5 name will be dropped in favour of a CX-50 badge, which brings it in line with the current naming convention.
The Mazda CX-5 is a five-passenger SUV sold in eight trim levels: S, Select, Preferred, Carbon Edition, Premium, Premium Plus, Turbo and Turbo Signature. The standard engine makes 187 horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque, while Turbo and Turbo Signature trims get a boost with 227 hp and 310 lb-ft on regular petrol. With high performance petrol – such as V-Power from Shell, those numbers rise to 256 hp and 320 lb-ft.
Every CX-5 comes with a comprehensive set of driving aids, which include forward collision mitigation – which warns you of an impending collision and applies the brakes in certain scenarios, blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert – that warns you if a vehicle is in your blind spot during a lane change or while reversing, lane departure mitigation – which warns you of a lane departure when a turn signal isn’t used and can automatically steer to maintain lane position and adaptive cruise control – that maintains a driver-set distance between the Mazda and the car in front.
The Select model adds a handful of convenience features, such as proximity keyless entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, power-adjustable driver’s seat, heated front seats, simulated leather upholstery, rear air vents, rear armrest and six-speaker audio system
The Preferred trim adds auto-dimming rear-view mirror, sunroof, power liftgate, driver’s seat memory settings, power-adjustable passenger seat, leather upholstery and Carbon Edition.
The Premium trim enhances the CX-5’s performance and infotainment offerings with 19-inch wheels, adaptive headlights – they swivel as you turn the steering wheel for better illumination in curves, heated mirrors, transmission paddle shifters, adjustable drive modes, upgraded driver information display, satellite radio and 10-speaker Bose audio system.
The Premium Plus raises comfort and convenience with power-folding mirrors, head-up display – which displays important information in your sight line onto the windshield, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats and heated steering wheel.
Moving up the Turbo gets you the aforementioned turbocharged engine 227 hp and 310 lb-ft (256 hp and 320 lb-ft with performance fuel), black-painted wheels, special exterior and interior trim plus a wireless charging pad.
The range-topping Turbo Signature goes all in on luxury appointments, including upgraded leather upholstery, wood trim, ambient interior lighting, navigation system, 360-degree camera system – that gives you a top-down view of the CX-5 and its surroundings for tight parking situations, parking sensors – that alert you to obstacles that may not be visible in front of or behind the vehicle when parking and rear automatic braking – that brakes if sensors detect an imminent collision with an object behind the vehicle.
Mazda was truly keen on improving the handling and steering to make the CX-5 enjoyable to drive. The cabin is attractive and upscale, further emphasising Mazda’s aim to offer a premium experience. The optional turbocharged engine provides plenty of power and is surprisingly quiet at highway speeds.
One thing is for sure, the Mazda CX-5 is probably the best looking – in terms of exterior design, in its class when put next to its competitors thanks to its updated front and rear styling. All-wheel drive now comes standard which is great for the Kenyan rugged terrain, coupled with improved suspension and power output for increased performance.