Into the new world with the Mazda CX-5

Posted by Nidha Narrandes on 10 September 2020

Hard lockdown behind him, Peter Frost set out in Mazda’s CX-5 to rediscover the beauty and majesty of the Western Cape. Along for the ride (sort of) were two Getaway readers, Ragmat Baron and Keenan Jacobs, whose previous holidays were Peter’s inspiration? Where did he end up? Buckle up and find out…

Mazda’s CX-5 Virtual Road Trip campaign was a huge amount of fun, no denying it. A quick recap. Getaway asked readers to let us know about their favourite road trip of all time. We then chose the standout entries and recreated parts of those journeys. Ragmat had bundled her whole family into three cars and headed down the Garden Route, Keenan had chosen the less travelled R62. So off we went, looking for adventure…

Sir Lowry’s Pass

The trip started with a climb out of Somerset West up Sir Lowry’s Pass and a stop at the top to look back at the coast. It always feels like the trip has begun when you crest Sir Lowry’s Pass. It’s such a great view up there. The pass itself was built in 1830. It used to be called Elandspad – for obvious reasons, all those antelope wandering around the Cape. It’s difficult to imagine oxwagons crawled up those mountains, back in the 1820s.

Peregrine Farm Stall and the Overberg

Back on the road and the CX-5 stretched its legs through the Overberg, which is emerald green at this time of year, with flocks of dancing blue cranes everywhere and the Hottentot Hollands in the background. It’s a driver’s dream road, especially since the upgrade a few years ago. Just before Elgin is Peregrine Farm Stall, a must for every traveler. It really is a lot more than just a farmstall. The Elgin owners have run it since 1964 and today there’s an artisanal bakery, the farm shop, restaurant and outside, a collection of amazing stalls. Best of all are the two busses – one is a mobile library of sorts and the other, a double decker, a very nifty shop, excellent for that must-have Lambkin stuffed toy or a pair of vellies.

“Fun fact’ – South Africans will consume 225 million loaves of bread next month. No wonder the wheat fields stretch forever.

Ou Meul, Riviersonderend

Legendary coffee in hand, it was back into the CX-5, a very comfortable place to be. It’s a quiet drive, far more sophisticated than you’d expect from an SUV. Next was Ou Meul in Riviersonderend. This one is the original shop, hard to believe now that it’s a successful franchise across the Western Cape. Covid hasn’t dented their spirit and it’s good to see them busy. There’s plenty to buy besides great Bootlegger coffee and their legendary pies. Next door there’s all manner of tempting takeaways – bags, crockery, cosmetics, and some pretty serious help-me-get-it-in-the-car sized bottled fruit.

Tradouw Pass

From Riviersonderend the N2 winds on to Port Elizabeth, but we took a detour, cutting across to the R62. To get there you have to drive Tradouw Pass, demanding for any car, down all those sharp bends. But by now the CX-5 had shown us what it could do and we weren’t nervous in the least. It’s as quiet a diesel as you’ll find on the market, but it’s also punchy; plenty of power for every occasion. The roadholding is pretty decent too, and on legendary Tradouw Pass it was a dream. If you’ve never experienced the majesty of Tradouw it comes as quite a shock. Built in the 1800s by the great pass maker Thomas Bain, the road, which is now tarred, snakes through the folded Langeberg crags, with the Tradouw River running alongside. Stop the car at one of the lay-bys and listen to the black eagles and the rushing water. It’s magical.

Barrydale

A few kilometres beyond the pass on the R62 is Barrydale and our lunch stop. It isn’t so much a town as a lifestyle, capital L, a favourite with Cape Town’s urban refugees looking for a bit of peace and quiet. A gorgeous old hotel, Barrydale Weavers, a tradition of dry stone building, it has it all. And the unofficial centre of town has become Dean Farrow’s Diesel and Crème. Bikers, tourists, families, young old, they all love it. We pulled in and had a delicious round of burgers and milkshakes that no one could finish, they were so huge. The CX-5 had no thirst though; still plenty in the tank and we were averaging 6,7l/100km. Pretty spectacular for a large SUV.

The real Karoo and Ronnie’s Sex Shop

The other side of town things got decidedly less busy. Many travellers end their Route 62 trips in Barrydale, which is good for those of us who prefer the quiet. It’s good to have the benefit of a bulletproof friend though – the CX-5 reliability suddenly seemed a lot more than just a sales pitch. Look at the size of the Langeberg East Mountains, 2500 million years old. Let that settle…

A million miles from anything, suddenly there was Ronnie’s Sex Shop. A South African landmark, it’s not a sex shop, of course. That was a prank played on the owner by his mates, who inserted ‘sex’ into the ‘Ronnie’s Shop’ sign outside. Have a cup of coffee and marvel at the thousands of signatures the stop off has amassed over the years. It’s a real South African legend.

Seweweekspoort Pass

And then… things got really interesting. Because instead of heading down the R62 to Oudtshoorn, we turned off, onto a dirt road, up to the Seweweekspoort Pass, the highest point in the Western Cape. We were about to finds out what the Mazda CX-5 was really made of…

Steel, it turns out. The CX-5’s dirt road manners are as good as its tar manners, the intelligent traction control and intuitive All Wheel Drive system making it commendably stable on the gravel.

The pass itself is part of the Swartberg and Towerkop Nature Reserves and of course, a certified Unesco World Heritage Site. It was built in 1861 by the brother-in-law of master pass builder Thomas Bain, he of Tradouw Pass and Bainskloof, outside Wellington.

The pass is actually a simple one to drive – mostly it’s flat, the dirt road following the river course through the folds. But don’t be fooled – its high here and chilly in the shade of those spectacular fold cliffs. We stopped in the middle of the pass, parked and just listened. The sound of running water, a black eagle and…nothing else. Legend. That’s what getting away is all about. Finding new roads, holding on to special moments. The CX-5 allowed us to take the road less travelled, and return with a truck load of memories. Keenan, Ragmat, thank you for the suggestions, hopefully we stirred a few for you. We’re pretty sure once all the national and international borders are open and it’s safe to do so, you’ll be first out the blocks.

 


The Mazda CX-5

The CX-5 is Mazda’s popular midsized SUV, a proper five-seater, much loved for its looks, dependability and friendly nature. The model on the trip was the top-of-the-range 2.2 litre diesel AWD version, bells and whistles most definitely standard.

Form has always been vitally important for Mazda – after all, something that you see and use every day has to be beautiful, is how they see it. Which is not to say functionality has been compromised. It has a large hatchback, there is plenty of space for five and it comes equipped with all the modern safety aids we all expect these days. What sets the CX-5 apart is how it makes you feel – and that’s far tougher to explain. It has something to do with the superb build quality (every clunk of a door is satisfying, every button is weighted perfectly). It also has something to do with the setup – a wonderful balance of ride comfort and sportiness. And it has a lot to do with the driving position and the feedback the chassis gives the driver through the steering wheel and the pedals. It just has ‘something’. And the result of all this ‘something’ is you just want to keep driving, keep exploring. It’s Mazda’s best-seller for a good reason – it has looks, style, comfort, ability and dependability, all in one package. The real deal.

The details

Mazda CX-5

  • Engine: 2.2-litre diesel, 140kW and 450Nm
  • Transmission: 6-speed auto
  • Length/Width/Height: 4550/1840/1680mm
  • Performance: Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 8.8 seconds.
  • Top speed (w/limiter): 208 km/h, 5.7l/100km, 148g/km
  • Service and warranty: 3yr/unlimited km service plan, 3yr/unlimited km warranty
  • Price: from R437 900
  • On sale: Now





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