It’s rather surprising, the new Mazda CX5 … exactly how good its overall package is! Sure there are one or two keys elements that could add to the ‘Zoom, Zoom, Zoom’, but only one or two.

Essentially the CX5 is a great looking SUV, not as large as the traditional SUVs we see on the roads these days, but it does have plenty of space and practicality for a young urban family. It has good height and great balance, with the sporty zip that one gets from having a little city hatch. The ride is extremely comfortable and the interior components are as good as we have seen in most vehicles double its price.

It’s rather surprising, the new Mazda CX5 … exactly how good its overall package is! Sure there are one or two keys elements that could add to the ‘Zoom, Zoom,

Touch screen display, Bose Sound system and power adjustable seats are not standard in a car that costs less than R400,000, but its is clear that a lot of effort was put into this design —exterior and interior!

Where the CX5 falls short however is the delivery of its drive. The automatic gearbox is horrible! The timings were well off and sadly it defines all that is bad about automatics. But, the saddest thing about that is the CX5 actually drives so nicely. In the version we tested, you can switch from full automatic, to manual automatic, which at least allows you to decide on the timing of gear change.

And, just like a child with ADD, when you take control and give it guidance, there is a star underneath. The engine delivers good power, it nips in and out of traffic with the greatest of ease and the sheer exhilaration you get makes your driving experience pleasant at every turn of the steering wheel and shift of the gears. The 2.0 litre engine delivers 114kW of power and up to 200Nm of torque and doesn’t even guzzle too much fuel either.

Like a model on the runways of South African fashion week, the Mazda CX5 looks great, has curves in all the right places, flaunts fantastic accessories but unfortunately lacks that something specia — that something that would catapult it to super model status. Bottom line: get the manual version and it will be money well spent. The CX5 comes in three variants, all with 2.0 litre engines. The manual costs R314,700 and the two automatics costing R342,800 and R396,100 respectively.