We recently got our hands on the Mazda CX-5 Dynamic, which we drove for an extended period in Gauteng, to bring you this review.

Mazda, like most other automakers, has moved its focus towards offering a raft of SUV/crossover models. Its local range consists largely of these high-riding options. The most popular, according to recent sales stats, remains the CX-5 with about 100 new units being delivered per month. We got our hands on a Mazda CX-5 Dynamic on a recent trip to Gauteng to reacquaint ourselves with the mid-size SUV.

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Ageing Gracefully

The CX-5 is now one of the oldest products in the Japanese automaker’s local portfolio. There have been recent additions such as Cx-30 and, most recently, the range-leading CX-60. The CX-5, however, isn’t giving away its age in the face of younger siblings. The smooth lines and familiar face have aged well. Mazda’s design language bucking the trend of outlandish/striking appearances is paying off in the longer term.

Of course, the brand has given the model a few minor aesthetic tweaks along the way and the most recent facelift has kept the model fresh and contemporary in the face of increasing competition. Mazda’s signature ‘soul red” paint finish (a R1 500 option), as always, garnered compliments. The standard 19-inch alloys with a dual-tone finish also add to the appeal.

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The same conservative stylistic approach has been applied to the interior treatment. A simple, uncluttered layout works well. The aim here being to keep the driver’s focus on the road ahead instead of large screens or busy layouts. Even the instrument cluster is a good old analogue set-up with simple black faces and white needles/script.

The Dynamic trim level is the middle of a slimmed down, three derivative, CX-5 range. It slots in above the ‘Active’ and below the ‘Carbon Edition’. In the middle of the range it represents the best value-for-money. Standard items include keyless entry, black leather upholstery, auto-folding mirrors, gearshift paddles, and an eight-way electrically adjustable driver’s chair, among others.

The infotainment system has full Android Auto and CarPlay connectivity. There is also a wireless charging pad and USB-C ports should you need. Mazda eschews a touchscreen infotainment interface. Instead there is a scroll and click rotary dial sited behind the gear lever. The centre screen doubles up as the display for the rear-facing parking camera. This is a standard item though, oddly, there are no sensors therefore no audible warning.

Mazda also retains physical controls for the standard, dual-zone climate control system. This is really handy to maintain focus on the task of driving as one doesn’t need to dig into a sub-menu within the infotainment system just to make a quick change such as turning on the recirculate function when encountering a smoke-spewing truck.

Space Aplenty

Part of our time in Gauteng included a drive-out with four adults. The two grandmas in the back seat were quite comfy and made good use of the centre armrest as well as the cupholders. They were also impressed with the low levels of noise in the cabin. It’s worth noting that they are both used to travelling in luxury German vehicles.

The boot opening is near square and the loading lip is flush with the floor, which makes loading luggage easy. Mazda claims luggage volume of 442 litres, and we believe the figure. At the very end of our stay we headed to the airport with five adults aboard and luggage for all was neatly stowed in the boot. This surprised the rear-seat occupants who expected to be sitting with, at least, some of their bags on their laps. Oh, the tailgate is electrically opened and closed as standard. 

Old School

Mazda SA does not offer any option in terms of powertrains when it comes to the local CX-5 line-up. All derivatives are fitted with a 2,0-litre petrol engine. There is just one transmission option: a six-speed torque converter automatic. The unit is slick-shifting and we generally left it to its own devices. When needed, we used the steering-wheel-mounted paddles to grab a lower gear for quick overtaking.

The naturally aspirated engine produces 121 kW and 213 N.m, which arrives at a high, 4 000 r/min. This is in contrast to the power delivery from turbocharged rivals, most of which develop maximum torque at far lower engine speeds. We did find the torque figure so high up in the engine speed range an issue in the power-sapping air of the Reef where the engine isn’t producing advertised outputs.

On the open road the powertrain does need a good few revs to perform at its best. During our time with the car, over 1 000 km of driving, we recorded an average fuel consumption figure of 8,8 litres/100 km. That is some way off Mazda’s claim of 6,9. The figure will probably drop a little at sea level.

The powertrain combination, however, does work well together. We found it quite handy during two days of game viewing. We could trickle along gravel tracks without so much as touching the gas pedal. The linear power delivery and torque converter also meant that we could creep slowly by game without the need for a flare of noisy revs, as usually required by a dual-clutch transmission and/or turbocharged motor.

On The Move

Mazda’s generally have decent ride quality. The company’s Miyoshi proving ground, which we drove a few years ago, has a wide array of conditions to deal with, which translates to cars that can deal well with diverse roads. The CX-5 is no different.

The 19-inch wheels are shod with high profile rubber, which makes for a cushy primary ride. The quality of ride through the seats didn’t deteriorate on the rough roads of Dinokeng Game Reserve. The near-200 mm of ground clearance also meant that there wasn’t a single scrape or bump from the CX-5’s undercarriage. 


There is plenty of competition in this segment, which means buyers are spoiled for choice. They can choose from such recognised models as the Volkswagen Tiguan, Kia Sportage, Hyundai Tucson and Toyota RAV4. And those are just the established marques. Then there are Chinese automakers such as Chery and Haval which also offer a raft of options.

However, in the face off increasing competition the mid-size Mazda continues to succeed. It’s no wonder that the CX-5 is the top-selling model in the brand’s local portfolio. It offers fuss-free motoring from an attractive package, with plenty of space, a simple cabin and uncomplicated powertrain. And isn’t that exactly what most motorists want, fuss-free motoring?  

Model: Mazda CX-5 Dynamic
Price: R586 500
Engine: 2,0-litre inline four
Transmission: six-speed automatic, FWD
Max power: 121 kW
Max torque: 213 N.m
0-100 km/h: n/a
Top speed: n/a
Fuel consumption: 6,6 L/100 km (8,8 as reviewed)