Any relationship has its ups and downs and owning a car is no different.
Our long term Mazda CX-5 Akera diesel has seen mostly good times with the CarAdvice Melbourne crew. Aside from the stinky mats that is (more on that in our other long-term update).
Our CTO, Cam, spent a solid amount of time behind the wheel and enjoyed the great handling and punchy performance of the CX-5. Plus that kerbside parking camera? What a cool feature!
He found the styling to be overall very good and the fit and finish a higher quality than expected, although he felt the seats lacked support and were quite flat. All the equipment he wanted was there (heated seats, adaptive cruise control) but none of the sometimes overbearing tech like a power tailgate.
Cam said the MZD Connect infotainment system was intuitive to use, having just the right mix of touchscreen and console control, but he did say the volume knob on the console is difficult to place your hand on when the transmission is in Drive or there is a drink in the cup holder. It’s even worse with both.
The other strange item was the i-stop system, which allowed the car to remain running when locked and without the key. Cam arrived at work, i-stop switched the car off and he left the car, for six hours. We then found that it was still running later on that day when we realised it wasn't the neighbour's air conditioner clattering away outside.
The lane-keeping assistant could be a bit too enthusiastic, particularly on Melbourne roads with the multitude of tramline markings, but the biggest gripe was that the window lock switch that prevents even the driver from using the window! Silly.
But after 10,000km of traversing a mixture of terrain from tarmac to snow, ‘Australia’s most popular SUV’ needed a bit of TLC.
Almost on the dot of the 10,000km mark the Mazda’s oil light came on, indicating a service was due.
Mazda offer a 10,000km-interval service program with capped pricing, this first milestone being an $320 procedure.
This makes the CX-5 one of the most expensive in its class in this regard. The Nissan X-Trail, Subaru Forester and Toyota RAV4 are all cheaper (the Toyota is just $180) and the Hyundai Tucson more expensive at $379. The 10,000km interval is about standard though.
Eager to get things sorted, we popped a call through to our local dealer, City Mazda in Port Melbourne to book it in.
It couldn’t have come at a better time too, as in the weeks leading up to the oil-light coming on, a number of us had experienced some ‘quirks’ with the MZD infotainment system.
The system would randomly lock up and reboot, both while driving and stationary and independent of paired/connected handset and operating system.
No one likes having their favourite talk-back callers cut-off mid rant, but it was particularly annoying in the middle of a phone call or when dealing with specific navigation instructions.
I now feel even more sorry for any of my partner drivers who had to deal with a crucial ‘off notes’ navigation call during a high-stakes tarmac rally. Sure it’s not quite the same - but the apology stands.
But, I digress.
Mazda Service assured us there was a software update available for MZD that would be run while the car was at the dealer, and that it would be fitted as part of the standard program.
City Mazda offered us a standard ‘same-day’ service booking within a few business days, but also noted they have an express service that allows busy customers to come in at a specific time to allow their car to be serviced why they wait. Like a doctor’s appointment for your car.
We elected the express product with an 8.30am start, which would see us back on the road by 9.30am.
Now before you all fire up the Diqus accounts and cry ‘favouritism’, we were well aware that booking a car registered to Mazda Australia under the contact of CarAdvice may raise some red flags and potentially attract special attention. We made it clear to the service manager that we wanted to be treated as any normal customer would - and so, what we experienced with the service should be expected by every Mazda owner.
Long story short, service has come a long way in the past few years.
Paul Maric took the car down, was greeted by name and immediately offered coffee and a seat in the lounge which in turn offered free (fast) WiFi. City Mazda also offer a shuttle service to the CBD or Bay St shops as well as a couple of bikes and (if you book early enough), complimentary loan cars.
The service lounge was quiet and comfy and filled with snacks (much to Paul's excitement). Paul ended up staying for an extra 30 minutes after the service was complete because he was in the middle of writing an article.
Now something that was raised in the previous long-term report was whether the oil light signified a simple service interval or low oil, so in the course of the service and oil change, we asked that the drained oil be measured and compared to the oil going in.
During the service time, the staff provided regular updates on service time and also invited Paul to see the amount of oil drained from the engine — confirming that the car hadn't actually used any more oil than it regularly would.
As you can see in the images, the change was negligible. Yes the old oil is dirtier but there is basically no difference in volume.
The rest of the service was very much by the book. Other than the fluid change and MZD software update, the CX-5 was given a clean bill of health. It was given a nice wash and clean, Paul scoffed a few more biscuits and we were on our way, on time and on budget.
As far as a service experience goes, it was pretty hard to fault. The express product makes so much sense for busy people who can’t easily be without a car all day. Being able to sit and work for the hour the car is being dealt with is again a massive boon. Gone are the days of the sticky International Roast coffee and dog-eared copies of That’s Life in the waiting room.
Servicing is the next-great barrier for brands to overcome, and if our experience with the CX-5 is a guide, then Mazda are well on their way.
That said, a little bit of cynicism never hurt anyone, so we ‘secret shopped’ City Mazda with Paul’s wife’s own Mazda2 to see if the level service would carry over.
Different car, different day, same result. Textbook service for both the car and customer.
It was a great way to finish our time with the CX-5, knowing that the ownership experience is as pleasant and effortless as the rest of the car.
As noted in our first instalment, we might not recommend going all-out and paying over $50k for the Akera (the Maxx Sport is still the sweet spot) but as a car, the Mazda CX-5 really does work well as an enjoyable and practical five-seat SUV.
Mazda CX-5 Akera AWD Diesel
Date acquired: May 2015
Odometer reading: 13,256
Travel since previous update: 2832km
Consumption since previous update: 7.9L/100km
Click the Photos tab for more images by Tom Fraser.