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What you should know before buying Mazda CX-5 diesel


Mazda CX-5 is one of the most bought SUVs in Kenya. [File, Standard]

Mazda CX-5 has joined its smaller sister, the Demio, in becoming a common sight on Kenyan roads.

The vehicle comes in three engine sizes – the 2,000 cubic centimetres (CC) petrol engine, 2,200cc diesel engine and 2,500cc petrol engine.

The different engine sizes give the vehicle diverse capabilities on torque, horsepower and off-road handling.

The CX-5 is classified as a compact crossover Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV), rivalling the Subaru Forester, Honda CR-V, Nissan X-Trail, Volvo XC60, BMW X3, Volkswagen Tiguan, Audi Q5, Mitsubishi Outlander, Toyota RAV4, Suzuki Escudo, Hyundai Santa Fe and Peugeot 5008, just to mention but a few.

The CX-5 was first manufactured in 2012, with at least 200,000 units sold in its first year of production.

This year (2022), the Japanese car model will be marking 10 years in the market, registering commendable strength areas and some weaknesses, some extremely frustrating.

The sleek design – lean, subtle body and a streamlined nose cut that has now become a Mazda identity – is one of its key strength areas, attracting many admirers, not only in Kenya but internationally. The enthusiasts say Mazda’s aggressive look makes it appear like “it’s ready for war, ready to consume the tarmac”.

The CX-5 stands on 17-inch or 19-inch rims, giving it 7.5 inches of ground clearance, which is almost enough to take you to the rockiest parts of the country.

In Kenya, the CX-5 diesel option, which comes with a 2,200cc turbocharged engine, is the cheapest in its range. With a minimum of Sh1.8 million or Sh1.9 million in Kenya, you can buy a 7-year-old foreign-used CX-5, saving you some Sh500,000 or even Sh1 million if you were to get its petrol equivalents.

The 2,500cc petrol version is the most-priced at about Sh2.8 million for a 7-year-old foreign-used one, while the 2,000cc petrol alternative would go for anything between Sh2.3 million and Sh2.6 million.

Whereas its petrol versions have a few, or common problems, which are also manifest in other vehicle petrol car brands, its diesel equivalent has exhibited several problems, some frustrating to the core.

The most common problem with the CX-5 diesel, older versions, is a blown head gasket, which makes the engine overheat.

A city motorist, who had acquired his 2014 CX-5 Mazda diesel in early 2020, had to part with at least Sh100,000 in repair and replacement of a blown head gasket. Mark you, he had bought the vehicle at Sh1.8 million, and the problems arose barely a month into driving the vehicle.

Subsequent problems pushed his repairs expenditure to almost half a million shillings.

Though the blown head gasket is not a problem with all CX-5 diesel cars, most Mazda dealers in Nairobi told The Standard that at least four out of every ten Mazda CX-5 vehicles they repaired, were brought for head gasket replacement.

A head gasket provides the seal between the engine block and cylinder head. Its purpose is to seal the combustion gases within the cylinders and to avoid coolant or engine oil leaking into the cylinders. Leaks in the head gasket can cause poor engine running and, or overheating.

Halima Salat, a 28-year-old Nairobi motorist who bought a 2014 Mazda CX-5 diesel in February 2020, said a key problem she noticed with her car was sensitivity to dust.

“I have to change the air filter regularly due to dust. Maybe the manufacturers didn’t factor in customers who drive the vehicle in dusty environments,” she said.

“Another thing, one has to treat the cooling system, particularly the radiator, with a lot of care. This [diesel] version of the [Mazda CX-5] vehicle is known to experience overheating problems,” said Halima.

Other motorists highlighted problems with fuel injectors, cylinder head temperature sensors, the turbo, and persistent engine lights, even when multiple repairs have been done.

Replacing the vehicle’s turbo system would cost you not less than Sh100,000.

Cognisant of these challenges, and some of the negative reviews the vehicle has received in the past, Mazda, on their official website, say they don’t expect the Mazda CX-5 diesel to account for more than 10 per cent of the vehicle model’s sales.

Charles Wanjua, a Kilimani-based mechanic specialised in Mazda, says the CX-5 injector problems stem from nozzles that get blocked regularly.

“This, in turn, affects the injector pump. This might lead to complete engine failure,” he told The Standard.

Another common problem with CX-5 diesel is the detaching of pipes under the alternator, forcing a motorist to regularly replace the detached or damaged hoses.

Another key problem with the diesel version of the CX-5 is, if you can’t stand loud, roaring engine noises, then this is not the vehicle for you, especially the older versions – 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015.

However, not all is bad about the CX-5 diesel.

With a horsepower of 168, the diesel’s torque is impressive (420 Nm / 2000 rpm), charging hard and aggressively at any speed around the city without making a nuisance of itself.

“When you want to overtake, and there’s little manoeuvre room left to you by the oncoming vehicle, the Mazda CX-5 diesel won’t fail you. The power, the torque is sufficient enough to quickly evacuate you from the no man’s land (the lane you shouldn’t be on),” said a city motorist, who has driven the vehicle, for four years now.

The Mazda CX-5 diesel does 0-100kph in a maximum of 9.5 seconds, which is fairly okay. If you want a faster equivalent of the car, go for the 2,500cc petrol-powered engine. It does 0-100kph in 8.8 seconds.

The diesel CX-5 equivalent is also cheaper to fuel and has impressive fuel economy figures. On the highway in Kenya, it would easily give you 12km to 14km per litre, while in the city it could give you between 9.5km per litre and 10.5km per litre depending on your driving habits.

Aggressive drivers usually get bad returns on fuel economy.

The CX-5 diesel also offers better residual value – the ability to last. This is good for you as an owner because it means you can drive it for longer and sell it for more than the typical petrol car.

The CX-5 handles well off-road, though it has its cons. It's relatively stiff suspension that helps the CX-5 handle fairly well doesn't do much for its ride comfort, which is one of its weak points. It’s more jarring over sharp-edged bumps than many rivals, including the Honda CR-V and Peugeot 5008.

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