Mazda’s CX-5 has been around for a mere five years, yet it already accounts for around a quarter of Mazda’s global sales. With so much riding on this mid-sized SUV, it’s not surprising that Mazda would want to shorten the original’s life cycle a bit and keep it fresh, especially given how the competition is getting so much better.

And that brings us to Mazda’s second-generation CX-5, which was launched to the South African media this week ahead of it rolling into showrooms at the beginning of June. While it shares its basic platform and engines with the original, Mazda has completely redesigned the SUV inside and out, while also improving refinement and road manners.

The new exterior is certainly striking. The old one didn’t look bad at all, but gen-two is more distinctive and interesting, with its huge, imposing grille up front and smaller, more angular taillights, while the chrome strip along the lower window line gives it a newfound elegance. Particularly stylish is the new Soul Red Crystal colour option, which has an amplified depth, and Mazda has also added Machine Gray Metallic to the colour palette, which has a high-density finish.

The CX-5 is flashier on the inside too, with its pointy air vents, an abundance of alloy-like trim and some soft, stitched sections. A 17.8cm colour screen hovers above the dash, operated via an Audi-like rotary dial on the centre console, and the range-topping Akera version is fitted with heads-up display.

The cabin is spacious and while I wouldn't call the rear legroom class-leading, rear seat passengers have plenty of room to stretch and the 442 litre boot should swallow all that holiday luggage.

The engines carry over from the previous range, with Mazda SA offering two normally aspirated petrol options in the form of a 2-litre with 121kW and 210Nm, a 2.5-litre with 143kW/257Nm, and a 2.2-litre turbodiesel credited with 129kW and 420Nm.

I drove the 2-litre petrol and 2.2 diesel on the CX-5’s Gauteng-based launch and the former, while it revs quite freely and sounds quite sporty, could do with more oomph, or, more particularly – the turbocharger that many of its rivals have adopted. This version had a manual gearbox, which had a nice short throw and solid feel. Mazda also offers a six-speed automatic gearbox, as an option on 2-litre models and as standard on the 2.5 petrol and 2.2 diesel.

The diesel is a very satisfying package – it’s quiet, reasonably punchy and gets off the mark with no discernable lag. It’s definitely the pick of the bunch, although as with its rivals, it is on the pricey side as you'll see at the bottom of this page.

The CX-5 corners quite neatly for an SUV – it even has a special G-Vectoring Control system that can cut engine torque slightly in corners, shifting the vehicle’s weight slightly forward to give occupants a more natural cornering sensation. More importantly, the ride is rather comfortable. However, at highway speeds there was a fair amount of road noise seeping in through the chassis.

The CX-5 is available in four trim grades:

Active is fitted with Mazda’s 17.8cm MZD colour screen, linked to a six-speaker audio system with Bluetooth connectivity, steering-mounted controls and a reverse camera. The system also offers USB connectivity for both front and rear passengers. Also standard is dual-zone climate control with rear ventilation as well as cruise control, push-button keyless start, auto windscreen wipers, 17-inch alloy wheels and LED headlights.

Dynamic adds leather seats, eight-way power adjustable for the driver, auto-fold mirrors and 19-inch alloys.

Individual ups the spec ante with a 10-speaker Bose sound system, satellite navigation, powered tailgate, sunroof, parking sensors front and rear, Blind Spot Monitoring, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keeping Assist (active), Smart City Brake Support, Adaptive LED headlights and Driver Attention Alert.

Akera is as per above but with the diesel engine and all-wheel drive.

All versions come with a three-year, unlimited-kilometre service play and warranty.

PRICES

2.0 Active manual121kW/210NmR379 900
2.0 Active auto121kW/210NmR391 900
2.0 Dynamic manual121kW/210NmR404 900
2.0 Dynamic auto121kW/210NmR416 900
2.5 Individual auto143kW/257NmR491 900
2.2 DE Active auto 129kW/420NmR459 400
2.2 DE Akera auto AWD129kW/420NmR557 500

ALTERNATIVES

Honda CR-V 2.0 Comfort114kW/192NmR394 400
Hyundai Tucson 2.0 Premium115kW/196NmR379 900
Kia Sportage 2.0 Ignite114kW/192NmR369 995
Nissan X-Trail 2.0 XE106kW/200NmR370 900
Renault Kadjar 1.2T Expression96kW/205NmR364 900
Toyota Rav4 2.0 GX107kW/187NmR368 800
VW Tiguan 1.4 TSI Trendline92kW/200NmR390 200
Hyundai Tucson 2.0 Premium115kW/196NmR379 900

IOL Motoring

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