Is the Mazda CX-5 the Best Pre-Owned Compact Crossover in South Africa?

Mazda CX-5

While we might not boast every crossover and SUV in the world available from our local dealership showrooms, we are fortunate as a buying public to have the best of the best. This is made all the more intriguing by the fact that each manufacturer aims to undercut the next on price while scooping them on specification. For the buyer, this is a boon. Let the sales battle rage on: we’ll enjoy the rewards of highly-specced models and competitive pricing. In this article, we investigate why the Mazda CX-5 is recognized as the best compact crossover in South Africa.

The Goldilocks Crossover?

This a market segment that is extremely profitable for manufacturers. Auto makers throw all manner of technologies, features and new-car finance deals to entice buyers into their showrooms. However, this means great vehicles and excellent bargains to choose from on the pre-owned market.

So, for under R300,000, what compact crossover should you buy? There are vehicles from Audi, BMW through to Volvo to buy. Our pick? The Mazda CX-5.

The first generation of CX-5 was available in South Africa from 2012 to 2017, with three engine choices, and two transmission types across two-wheel drive and AWD derivatives, while buyers could select between three trim lines according to their budget.

In 2017, Mazda released the second generation (which debuted the Soul Red Crystal paint colour so popular on all Mazdas to now become their signature). With this new generation, new technology and a nip-and-tuck exterior design refresh took the CX-5 nameplate even further up the SUV rankings. The popularity in South Africa saw this model rival the segment sales lead over Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Hyundai, Kia, Audi, and BMW. Having a first generation Audi Q5, test driven and driven numerous other German crossovers and SUVs, the interior design and quality most certainly are on par with the premium rivals. The centre console, its media interface and controls are reminiscent to those of the Audi Q5 – and that’s a major plus point for this Japanese crossover, as Audi is world-renowned for crafting the most ergonomic and beautiful vehicle interiors.

For less than R300,000 (or – to put it in another form – R6,000 per month when calculated over 72 months at 13.00% interest rate with no deposit), there isn’t a crossover that’ll offer buyers more quality, refinement, performance, technology and value than the second generation CX-5.

In fact, last week released their list of 10 most highly recommended cars by owners, and it wasn’t a surprise to find the Mazda CX-5 at the top of the table. Having driven dozens of these, sold that many more and experienced happy CX-5 owners, this model continues to impress me.

There aren’t many models that appeal to buyers across budget and class lines such as the Volkswagen Golf (any generation), new-generation Suzuki Jimny and the range of Toyota Hilux bakkies. I’d go so far with my admiration as to add the Mazda CX-5 to that short list.

(It is important to note at this juncture of our article that no one at UsedCarReview works for Mazda, has shares in one of their franchises nor owns a CX-5. We would love to own a second generation model – a 2.2DE Akera AWD Automatic would do us just fine, thank you very much.)

2017 CX-5 2.0 Active Automatic

Which pre-owned CX-5 examples would make for fantastic family cars? Sticking to our guideline of a CX-5 priced at less than R300,000 / R6,000 per month, a three-year-old 2.0 Dynamic Automatic with less than 50,000km isn’t a far stretch.

2017 Mazda CX-5 2.0 Active Automatic
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The model above is a 2017 CX-5 2.0 Active Automatic with only 37,000km on the odometer and a price tag of R299,900. The Active trim line – while being the entry-level specification – is far from rudimentary: adaptive LED headlights; LED foglights; Keyless Start; digital media interface with USB, AUX and Bluetooth connectivity; automatic controls for headlight and windscreen wiper functions; cruise control; cloth upholstery; electrically-operated windows and exterior mirrors; 17″ inch alloy wheels; and, a long list of safety systems including 6 airbags as standard.

2017 Mazda CX-5 2.0 Active Automatic
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The Dynamic specification line adds Keyless Access and Start; electrically-adjustable driver’s seat; automatically-folding exterior mirrors; leather upholsetry; and, 19″ ally wheels.

For those seeking slightly more kit, the Individual trim further adds LED daytime driving lights; electrically-operated tailgate; 10-speaker Bose sound system; blind spot monitoring; a heads-up display; parking sensors with a reverse camera; a driver alert system; lane departure warning and lane keep assist; and, an electrically-adjustable front passenger’s seat.

For the top-of-the-line specification, you’d need to select the 2.2 DE diesel engine. This trim package adds a sunroof; SatNav; and, a 360-degree View Monitor to the extensive list of features.

Of course, the Individual and Akera-specced models are priced at far higher than our R300,000 ceiling permits. For those added luxuries and toys, you’d need to look at models slightly older and from the first generation.

2017 CX-5 2.5 Individual

2017 Mazda CX-5 2.5 Individual
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The above-pictured vehicle is a first-generation model 2017 CX-5 2.5 Individual with a little over 75,000km and a price of R299,900. It makes for a fantastic vehicle at that price. The 2.5-litre engine won’t make you race from the traffic lights to hustle a hot hatchback, but it does make 20kW than the 2.0-litre version and offers up some 40Nm more of poke to make for meaningful increase in performance. But, does it really matter which you decide between the 2.0- or the 2.5-litre powertrains? The short answer: no. The performance gains are marginal and the increase in fuel consumption doesn’t justify the larger engine size.

2015 CX-5 2.2 DE Akera AWD Automatic

2017 Mazda CX-5 2.2 DE Akera AWD Automatic
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Pictured above is a beautiful-looking 2015 CX-5 2.2 DE Akera AWD Automatic with 83,000km on the odometer and a price tag of R289,900. With more features than its German rivals from Audi and BMW, this crossover packs a serious punch for value-for-money.

As with all pre-owned vehicles, the CX-5 isn’t perfect. The indicator lights’ bulbs are prone to failing relatively soon (with a lifetime of around two years), and the LED daytime driving lights are known to be finicky with age. The car’s media interface takes getting used to, but is a cinch to operate once so. Mazda UK has issued a recall for a specific batches of the diesel-engined models built between 2012 and 2018 for faulty air inlet valves that could lead to damage. This problem seems to appear in very limited numbers, and in South Africa the random franchise dealers contacted for insight on this article indicated no such problems with models in our country. Good news!


Take one for a test drive and we’re certain you’ll fall in love with this handsome vehicle too. Stick to your budget and buy the model in the best condition and as new as you can afford, and you’ll be rewarded with a crossover that will deliver hundreds of thousands of reliable motoring and transport.

Sell & Save!

The above selected vehicles are but three of the 300 or so CX-5s available on the pre-owned market in South Africa. Now that your appetite has been whet, which ones do you pick and which to avoid? To aid you through this quagmire of decisions, figures and financial-speak, we are able to assist you to find the source the best CX-5 for your budget with our Sell & Save feature. Contact Evan Rothman via e-mail at and via phone by Call/WhatsApp/Telegram at 0834526892.

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