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HomeDRIVENROAD TESTEDMAZDA CX-5 2.0L CARBON EDITION

MAZDA CX-5 2.0L CARBON EDITION

POWER TO THE UNDERDOG |

Mazda recently introduced several range-topping amendments to its largest SUV offering, the CX-5 Carbon Edition. 

“Quietly conquering hearts and minds” may very well be the motto of the local subsidiary of the Japanese automaker, Mazda, in South Africa, as it navigates the often-fickle waters of our market. Seldom will this brand have a flashy launch or attempt to grab the limelight with some over-the-top specially-modified ride, choosing, instead, to let their products do all the talking for them.

The medium-sized CX-5 SUV/MPV crossover is an excellent case in point. Elegant (despite its relative age to most competitors), supremely comfortable, and an absolute joy to drive, the CX-5 is now even more desirable, thanks to the addition of the 2.0L Carbon Edition to the middle of the CX-5 range.

CONTEMPORARY LOOKS

Based on the current 2.0L Individual Auto FWD – which the Carbon Edition replaces – it comes standard with the same 2.0L SKYACTIV-G engine (121 kW and 213 Nm) offered on the current 2.0L range but is available in automatic transmission only. 

Although the Carbon Edition is mechanically unchanged from its 2.0-litre siblings, several enhancements have been made to the car.

The exterior has been given a significantly sportier appearance, with sporty styling elements such as glossy black exterior mirrors and 19” black metallic alloy wheels.

Also, the Carbon Edition boasts six striking exterior colours, including Snowflake White Pearl, Sonic Silver, Machine Grey, Soul Red Crystal, Polymetal Grey (the colour of our test unit), and Jet Black.

Interior enhancements include black film on the dashboard and door panels; red contrast stitching on the leather-clad steering wheel, gear lever, knee pads and seats; and a leather and suede combination seat trim (also with red stitching).

Although the enhancements are seemingly minimal, the overall effect to the interior ambience and exterior boldness is significant, and one would be forgiven for mistaking the Carbon Edition for the most exclusive model in the CX-5 lineup. Naturally, that title still belongs to the 2.2L DE Akera AWD turbodiesel, while the 2.5L Individual AWD slots between the Carbon Edition and the topline car.

MAZDA MASTERSTROKE

It is, however, no coincidence that the Carbon Edition CX-5 is positioned where it is in the existing lineup. As demand for medium-size SUVs remains steady – the segment makes up 11% of overall SUV sales – differentiating mid-range models has become essential to stimulate sales. Looking at the Carbon Edition more closely, it becomes evident that buyers don’t necessarily need loads of power or all-wheel-drive but increasingly opt for better interior specifications, more comfort, and more individuality.

With the Carbon Edition, Mazda has performed somewhat of a masterstroke in that respect. The car’s 121 kW four-cylinder (mated to a six-speed auto transmission) provides enough grunt not to leave you wanting while accelerating or overtaking, underscoring the car’s premium look and feel. Simultaneously, an array of convenience and assistance systems add to the Carbon Edition’s comfort and safety credentials.

WHERE DOES IT FIT?

Technically speaking, the CX-5 plays in somewhat of a no-frills niche of the market, where familiar favourites such as the Toyota RAV4 and Volkswagen Tiguan take most of the limelight. 

Although most vehicles in this segment offer substantial technical expertise, they don’t always appeal to the heart as much as they do the mind, making it all the more refreshing when ‘underdog’ brands such as Mazda and Peugeot (see our launch review of the updated Peugeot 3008 in this edition) add proficiency and more personality to the mix.

What’s more, as something of an SUV with MPV heritage, the CX-5 is larger than the norm (particularly on the inside), making it an ideal long-distance cruiser for the entire family.

At the pumps, the Carbon Edition’s SKYACTIV also returns decent numbers – our test delivered in the region of 8-litres per 100 km during our test.

LAST WORD

It is all about adding value in a price-sensitive market instead of making unnecessary and often expensive optional extras available to buyers. Generally speaking, the Mazda CX-5 range is brilliantly priced and positioned to compete against much more prominent brands. Specifically, the Carbon Edition offers value and premium quality far beyond its ticket price of R565,800, making quite the compelling argument for this crossover ‘underdog’. 

Report by BERNIE HELLBERG JR | Images © MAZDA SOUTH AFRICA

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