Mazda CX-5 VS Renault Captur
- Gorgeous styling
- Interior fit and finish
- Added off-road capability
- Road noise still too high
- Firm ride
- No hybrid options
- Better looking
- Good engine
- Roomy cabin
- No rear cross-traffic alert on base model
- Hesitant transmission
- Top-spec still has options
Mazda’s CX-5 has long reigned as Australia’s favourite mid-size SUV, but 2020 is likely the year it loses that title to the much-improved, new-generation Toyota RAV4.
To try and keep up with fresher competition though, Mazda has introduced rolling updates to the popular CX-5, including a new off-road mode for all-wheel drive (AWD) variants that better equips the stylish SUV for rough terrain.
Pairing its new capabilities with the same high-calibre interior fit and finish as before, as well as a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, means the new CX-5 is the arguably the most complete package it has ever been, but is it still good enough for your consideration in 2020?
|Engine Type||2.5L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
Renault, like its French rival Peugeot, didn't quite nail the first attempt at a compact SUV. The first Captur was a Clio with some ride height and a new body and didn't quite make the cut for Australian buyers. Partly because the original engine was borderline anaemic but secondly, it was really small.
When you're French, you have more work to do in the Australian market. I don't make the rules, which is a shame for a number of reasons but my colleagues seem to think it's better this way.
Anyway, I didn't mind the old Captur but was well aware of its shortcomings. This new one - on paper at least - looks far more promising.
More market-appropriate pricing, more space, a better interior and lots more tech, the second-generation Captur even rolls on a whole new platform, promising more space and better dynamics.
|Engine Type||1.3L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
The latest round of spec enhancements don’t add too much to the already-winning formula, but the Off-Road Traction Assist function is a nice box-ticker for buyers worried about the CX-5’s sure footedness.
Class leading safety and catwalk-worthy styling remain strong attributes, but buyers will have to forgo a little comfort and no electrified engine options.
We love that crucial safety systems are fitted to all grades of the CX-5, meaning even the base Maxx variant is a compelling buy.
If we had to pick though, we'd go for the AWD 2.5-litre Touring for $40,980, which is loaded with nice creature comforts such as a head-up display and keyless entry for a price that doesn't break the bank.
The mid-size SUV field is as strong as it has ever been however, with the battleground set to heat up even more thanks to new and refreshed entrants arriving in the near future, meaning the CX-5 might soon need a big leap forward instead of just iterating to remain ahead of the pack.
For now though, the Mazda CX-5 still has the substance to back up its style, even three years on from the market launch of its latest form, though only just.
The second-generation Captur's arrival coincides with the brand's transfer to a new distributor and a fiercely competitive market still bruised and battered from a shocking 2020.
It certainly looks the part and is also priced the part. Without a doubt, the mid-spec Zen is the one to go for unless you want the extra electro-trickery available on the Intens, which is quite a lot more expensive.
Setting aside my fondness for French cars, this one looks and feels more competitive in the compact SUV market. If you cover a lot of ground every year - or want the option to do so - you should really take a second look at the servicing structure, too, because in the Captur 30,000km in a year means a single service rather than three in turbo-engined rivals. That might be a bit niche, but even over the life of a car where you average 15,000km per year, it will make a difference.
The first of Mazda’s models to adopt its latest design language, the second-generation Mazda CX-5 hit Australian showrooms in 2017 and has remained largely the same since.
That’s no bad thing mind you, as the CX-5’s smooth panels, sharp edges and subtle creases embrace a more timeless and classic design philosophy relative to the dated design elements of its rivals.
Every touch point inside the CX-5 feels top-notch, including the steering wheel, door trims and seats, while buyers can also personalise the interior with colours such as black, white and brown.
Our top-spec Akera test vehicle came fitted as standard with nappa leather, which feels ultra-luxe and premium.
The interior is laid out with a clean and crisp design, with all controls well placed, and large swathes of black surfaces broken up with textured materials.
We don’t have much to complain about in with the CX-5’s design, inside or out, but at the risk of nit-picking, we’d say the multimedia screen is starting to look dated, especially when stacked up against the well-designed unit of the Mazda3 and CX-30.
I had to twice check this was the new Captur, but really, it's just the profile that is most like the older car. The new one is a bit bolder and less jacked-up Clio.
The Life and Zen look pretty much the same apart from the Zen's (optional) two-tone paint jobs but the Intens looks pretty classy with its bigger wheels and additional materials changes.
The new interior is a vast improvement over the old one. The plastics are way nicer and they have to be because hardly anyone has plastics as bad as that old car anymore.
The new one has more comfortable seats, too, and I really like the revised dash. It feels much more modern, is better-designed and the little paddle for the audio controls has finally been updated and is way easier to use. It also clears the steering wheel of buttons, which I quite like.
Measuring 4550mm long, 1840mm wide and 1680mm tall, the CX-5 is slightly shorter than the likes of the Toyota RAV4, Nissan X-Trail and Hyundai Tucson, but its generous 2700mm wheelbase is larger than most of its peers.
Which means interior room in the CX-5 is excellent, especially in the front seats, where there is plenty of head, shoulder and legroom.
The fantastic driving position in particular has to be called out, as our CX-5 test car serves up an electronically adjustable seat and steering column that let us get in just the right place for our hands and legs.
Mazda’s driver-focused philosophy applies to all its models, and the CX-5 family hauler is no exception.
Rear seat room, while adequate, will just about fit three adults sitting abreast, but a full row of children or even teenagers shouldn’t be a problem.
Keep in mind though that second-row legroom can be compromised for taller passengers, but there is plenty of headroom.
Amenities in the second-row also include air vents and, in our top-spec grade, heated pews and two USB sockets, the latter found in the fold-down armrest that also houses two cupholders.
As for the boot, the CX-5 will also swallow 442 litres of volume with all seats in place, extending to 1342L with the pews stowed.
In real world terms, that means the CX-5 will easily cart around a family of five with the weekly groceries and folded stroller in tow, but it is noticeably smaller than the 580L/1690L capacity.
We will also point out that we couldn’t find any bag hooks in the back of our test car, though there were handy seat-folding tabs that could stow just the centre seat or each of the outbound pews with just a simple pull.
Storage throughout the cabin is also just OK, with a shallow glovebox and small storage tray below the climate controls.
The centre storage cubby however, is sizeable, and comes with a tray to keep items like a phone or wallet close to the surface to prevent you having to reach in a fish them out.
Door pockets also offer decent storage up front, but rear passengers will only be able to fit a water bottle in their doors.
You get a massive boot to start with - bigger even than the fabled 408 litres of the Honda HR-V. Renault starts you with 422 litres and then adds underfloor storage. When you push the seats forward and include the hidey-hole under the false floor, you end up with 536 litres.
Of course, that sliding will affect rear legroom. When the rear seats are all the way back, this is a lot more comfortable than the old car, with more head and knee room, although it's no match for the Seltos or HR-V in that respect. Not far off, though.
Fold the 60/40 split rear seats down and you have 1275 litres, a not-quite-flat floor and 1.57m long floor space, 11cm more than before.
The French approach to cupholders continues. There are just two in this car, but they are at least useful rather than the frustratingly small ones in the out-going model.
Rear seat passengers don't get cupholders or an armrest, but there are bottle holders in all four doors and - joy of joys - air vents in the back. Bit weird to have no armrest even in the top-spec Intens, though.
Price and features
Though Mazda has slightly increased the pricing of its CX-5 for the 2020 model year, there's still a wide selection of grades available from $30,980, before on-road costs, to $51,330.
Our test car, the AWD Akera grade paired with a 2.5-litre turbo-petrol engine, is priced at $50,830, making it the second-most expensive variant available.
Standard features across the range include an 8.0-inch multimedia display, 17-inch wheels and push-button start, but our test car was also kitted out with dual-zone climate control, satellite navigation, a powered tailgate, head-up display, leather interior and power-adjustable mirrors.
However, it’s the huge array of standard safety equipment that stands the CX-5 apart.
All CX-5s, including the entry-level Maxx, are fitted with features such as adaptive cruise control and autonomous emergency braking, which are sometimes relegated to higher grades or options in competitor SUVs.
The Akera grade also gains 19-inch alloy wheels, ambient interior lighting, heated and cooled front seats and heated rear seats, as well as a frameless rearview mirror, heated steering wheel and woodgrain interior panels, It’s these small details that elevate the CX-5 from its peers.
There’s equipment here that is rarely seen in anything outside models from the big three German brands, and though a Mazda badge doesn’t quite hold that level of cache, the CX-5 is also not priced quite as highly as a BMW, Mercedes or Audi, either.
Whether you agree with Mazda Australia’s decision to push some models upmarket with higher price points and more equipment, there's no denying the blend of luxe and value presented in the CX-5.
The three-tier range starts at $28,190, before on-road costs, for the Captur Life and comes with 17-inch wheels, a cloth interior, auto headlights, air-conditioning, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on the 7.0-inch landscape-oriented touchscreen, full LED headlights (that’s a nice touch), front and rear parking sensors, a reversing camera and a space saver spare.
Irritatingly, if you want the extra safety that's standard on the Zen and Intens, you have to spend another $1000 on the 'Peace of Mind' package, which also adds electric folding mirrors and takes you to $29,190, $1600 short of the Zen which has all this and more.
So think carefully about a Life with a package. I would put a modest sum of money on the idea that few people will buy the Life.
Step up to the Zen and for $30,790 you get the extra safety gear, walk-away auto-locking, a heated leather steering wheel, auto wipers, two-tone paint option, climate control, keyless entry and start (with the Renault key card) and wireless phone charging.
Then there's a big jump to the Intens, a whole five grand to $35,790. You get 18-inch wheels, a bigger 9.3-inch touchscreen in portrait mode, sat nav, BOSE sound system, 7.0-inch digital dashboard display, LED interior lighting, 360-degree cameras and leather seats.
The 'Easy Life' package is available on the Intens and adds auto parking, side parking sensors, auto high beam, a bigger 10.25-inch digital dash and frameless rear vision mirror for $2000.
And you can get the 'Orange Signature' package for no bucks. Which adds orange stuff to the interior and deletes the leather, which isn't necessarily a terrible thing. Not because the leather is bad, I just prefer cloth.
The new Renault touchscreens are good and include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but I can only speak for the bigger 9.3-inch system which is similar to the Megane's.
You get digital radio on top of AM/FM radio and six speakers (Life, Zen) or nine speakers (Intens).
These prices are more competitive than the older car. That seems fair because there's a lot more in it and prices are inexorably creeping northwards at the other brands.
Missing out of the range is the plug-in hybrid version, which is sad for a couple of reasons.
The first is that first-mover advantage could work in Renault's favour and secondly, its French rival Peugeot is pricing its new 2008 way higher than the Captur, so a PHEV could almost be cheaper - one imagines - than a top-spec, petrol-only 2008.
Engine & trans
We’ve tested this engine before, and while nothing has changed on the powertrain front, we’re still big fans of this mill’s effortless oomph.
As one of the most potent petrol engines you can get in the mainstream mid-size SUV class, coming away from the line is expectedly brisk and the engine will enable a zero to 100km/h in an almost-hot-hatch-bothering 7.7 seconds.
Overtaking at freeway speeds is also easy, with the smart-shifting automatic transmission smoothly kicking down a cog for some extra shove.
Speaking of, peak torque is available from 2000rpm, making the CX-5 a delight to drive at slower speeds instead of a slow-moving bothersome chore.
However, we reckon the six-speed auto need another gear for freeway driving, just to keep revs and engine down a little more.
If the flagship 2.5-litre turbo-petrol engine isn’t your speed, there are other powertrains available in the CX-5 range, including a base 115kW/200Nm 2.0-litre petrol unit that is paired to a six-speed manual gearbox and an automatic-transmission-only 140kW/252Nm 2.5-litre petrol.
Diesel is also offered in the CX-5 range, an increasingly rare occurrence as the Toyota RAV4, Ford Escape and Subaru Forester are no long offered with oil-burning options, and in Mazda’s case is a 140kW/450Nm 2.2-litre twin-turbo unit.
However, unlike the three aforementioned mid-size SUV competitors, Mazda does not offer its CX-5 with any sort of electrified powertrain.
One could argue that in 2020, Australia is yet to fully embrace the electric vehicle future, but for those wanting the latest in hybrid or plug-in powertrain technology, the CX-5 does not yet have an answer (like most competitors).
All Capturs run the same 1.3-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine delivering a mildly impressive 113kW at 5500rpm and 270Nm at 1800rpm, which should make for some reasonable speed.
Both numbers are slightly higher than the original Captur, with power up by 3.0kW and torque by 20Nm.
Weighing in at a maximum of 1381kg, this enthusiastic engine will push the Captur from 0-100km/h in 8.6 seconds, over half a second quicker than before and a touch quicker than most of its rivals.
Official fuel consumption figures of the 2.5-litre turbo-petrol CX-5 peg it at 8.2 litres per 100km, but with our short stint in the car we managed 9.8L/100km.
To be fair, our driving consisted mainly of inner-city suburban streets and a brief stretch of highway driving, as well as some hard acceleration.
For those looking for a more frugal CX-5 though, the diesel engine is also available that will sip just 5.7L/100km, while the 2.0-litre and 2.5-litre petrol units are also less thirsty at 6.9 and 7.4L/100km respectively.
Again, a petrol-hybrid option here would help lower fuel-consumption even more, so if stretching your dollar further at the bowser is a concern, you may want to look elsewhere.
Renault says the Captur's 1.3-litre engine will drink premium unleaded (important point, that) at the rate of 6.6L/100km.
That's a more sensible baseline figure than the previous car's sub-6.0 official combined cycle figure and after some web sleuthing appears to be the more accurate WLTP testing number.
As we had the car for a brief time, the 7.5L/100km is probably not representative of real-world fuel use, but it's a good guide nonetheless.
From the 48-litre tank, you should get 600 to 700km between fills. As you might expect, being a European car, it does want premium unleaded.
The big headlining change to the new CX-5 is the added off-road driving mode added to AWD variants.
Dubbed ‘Off-Road Traction Assist’, the system locks the rear differential at the push of a button, enabling torque to be sent to the wheels that have grip.
In theory, the system is designed to better allow the CX-5 to get out of a sticky situation, such as deep mud or some particularly tricky terrain, and in practice it does what’s advertised.
Don’t get us wrong, the CX-5 isn’t transformed into a Jeep Wrangler or Toyota LandCruiser because of the new feature, but it certainly helps that Mazda has added extra go-anywhere assurance to its popular model.
Also keep in mind that the CX-5 will still be limited by ground clearance and its approach angle.
On the occasion that the CX-5 ventures down an unsealed road or rough terrain in inclement weather when venturing to a remote Airbnb or holiday home, the Off-Road Traction Assist button will surely be a welcome addition.
Aside from the new off-road mode, the CX-5 drives largely the same as before – for good and bad.
Steering is sharp, direct and communicative, while also being light and pleasant enough to manoeuvre around town.
However, the trade-off for a nice steering SUV is that suspension is still a bit too firm, for our tastes at least, which is of particular note in a five-seat family hauler like the CX-5.
Don’t get us wrong, its not back-breaking by any stretch, and on smooth surfaces, the ride is perfectly liveable.
Unfortunately, Australia – and in this particular case, Melbourne – is full of more than just smooth roads, with the occasional large dip and bump (not to mention the juttering of travelling over tram tracks) transmitted right to occupants.
Mazda said it has also improved the NVH levels of the new CX-5 thanks to extra sound deadening, but without driving the old car and new one back-to-back, it is a little hard to tell the level of enhancement.
However, we are happy to report road and wind noise was kept to a minimum in our time with the car, even at freeway speeds.
Straight up, I will remind you of my fondness for French cars and the way they go about their business. Renault has been on strong form for some time now in the ride and handling department, even on tiny cars with rear torsion beam suspension.
Where the previous Captur was let down was a common French failing - weak engines that work fine in the European market but don't go down so well in Australia.
Even though I quite liked the old Captur, I got why nobody bought it (relatively speaking). This new one feels good from the second you park your bum in the driver's seat, with good, comfortable support, great vision forward (less so back, but that was the same in the old one) and the steering wheel even has a subtle flattened edge at the top if you have to set the wheel high.
The 1.3-litre turbo is a bit grumbly and gristly on start-up and never really loses a slightly odd, reedy harmonic coming through the firewall, but it's a strong performer for its size and works (mostly) well with the seven-speed dual-clutch.
Renault's old six-speeder was quite good and the seven works just fine except for a slight hesitation from step-off and is sometimes reluctant to kick down.
I blame fuel-saving rather than ham-fisted calibration, because when you punch the weird flower button and switch to Sport mode, the Captur comes good.
With a more aggressive transmission and a slightly livelier throttle, the Captur is much happier in this mode and so was I. The steering is light and direct and there's no real pretence in the suspension for off-road use which is fine by me because it means it's great fun on the road.
It kind of feels like a GT-Line version rather than out of the box standard tune. I don't know if there's a softer version available, but if there is, I'm glad Renault Australia chose this one.
And despite being fun to drive, the ride is almost uniformly excellent. Like any car with torsion beams, it's unsettled by big potholes or those horrible rubber speed bumps, but so is an air-suspended German car.
It's also fairly quiet except when you've got your foot to the floor and even then it's barely an inconvenience rather than a genuine problem.
Safety is where the Mazda CX-5 stands heads and shoulders above the competition.
Lane departure warning, lane-keep assist, reversing camera, rear parking sensors, driver attention alert, autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and adaptive cruise control, as well as auto high beams, wipers and headlights, are all included as standard across the entire Mazda CX-5 line-up.
But wait, there’s more as our Akera test car also has front parking sensors, traffic sign recognition and a surround-view monitor to make parking a breeze.
New in the 2020 model-year upgrade however, is night-time pedestrian detection for the AEB system.
The list of safety equipment included in the CX-5, even at its cheapest, is the yardstick from which all other cars – including models from premium brands – should be measured.
No surprises then that the Mazda CX-5 carries a full five-star ANCAP safety rating when it was first tested in 2017.
The Mazda mid-size SUV scored 95 per cent in the adult occupant test, while the child occupant protection examination yielded an 80 per cent score.
As for the vulnerable road user and safety assist categories, the CX-5 notched 78 and 59 per cent respectively.
You get six airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, forward AEB (up to 170km/h) with pedestrian and cyclist detection (10-80km/h), a reversing camera, rear parking sensors, forward collision warning, lane departure warning and lane keep assist.
If you want blind spot monitoring and reverse cross-traffic alert on the entry-level, you have to step up to the Zen or pay $1000 for the Peace of Mind package.
Given the marginal rear visibility and the ordinary resolution on the reversing camera, the omission of RCTA is annoying. I know Kia and various other rivals offer the safety as extra, but this is an important feature.
Euro NCAP awarded the Captur a maximum five stars and ANCAP is offering the same rating.
Service intervals are every 10,000km or 12 months, whichever comes first.
Basic service costs will alternate between $347 and $378 up to 160,000km or 16 years, but additional scheduled maintenance items will cost extra.
For example, the cabin filter will need to be replaced ever 40,000km, costing an additional $80, while spark plugs will need to be refreshed every 60,000km interval at a cost of $327.
As such, the first five years of servicing, by our calculations for the 2.5-litre turbo-petrol CX-5 Akera, will cost buyers $2092.
Renault sends you home with a five year/unlimited kilometre warranty and a year of roadside assist. Every time you return to a Renault dealer for service, you get a further year, to a maximum of five.
The capped-price servicing runs for five years/150,000km. That suggests you can cover up to a massive 30,000km per year and only have to service it once, which is exactly what Renault reckons you can do. So yeah - service intervals are genuinely set at 12 months/30,000km.
The first three and then fifth services each cost $399, while the fourth is almost double at $789, which is a solid jump.
So, over the five years you'll be paying a total of $2385 for an average of $596 per year. If you do a ton of kilometres, that will really work for you because most turbo-engined cars in this segment have much shorter service intervals, around 10,000km or 15,000km if you're lucky.