Mazda CX-5 2.0 Dynamic vs. Renault Koleos 2.5 Dynamique

While our automotive market surges ahead with downsizing and/or electrification, there are a few vehicles which either didn’t get the memo yet, or they’re desperately waiting for a newer version to take the baton. And with both their names promising dynamism, how could we not compare these two oddball SUV’s?

That’s right, I just typed oddball. Because the current formula for a contemporary SUV seems to be swish styling, unnecessarily large wheels, a heavily shrunken but turbo-charged engine, some form of over-complicated multi-clutch transmission, plus every conceivable bit of new technology they could throw into a large touch-screen.

Mazda and Renault understood the first and last instructions but, perhaps intentionally, got most of the middle bits wrong. These two stylish cross-overs have touch screens and Bluetooth but their naturally-breathing engines send power via boring gearboxes to the sensibly-sized front wheels on normal suspension components.

I promise that we didn’t line up these two cars on purpose but when they pitched up within a few days of each other, this comparison almost wrote itself. Although there are key differences, some of the side-by-side specifications are almost identical! Observe most of these in the tables below:

 CX-5 2.0 DynamiqueKoleos 2.5 Dynamique
Engine1,998cc i-4 petrol2,488cc i-4 petrol
Gearbox6-speed Automatic0-speed CVT (Auto)
Power121kW @ 6,000rpm125kW @ 6,000rpm
Torque213Nm @ 4,000rpm233Nm @ 4,000rpm
0-100km/h  9.81s (claimed 10.4)9.43s (claimed 9.5)

At this point I will safely assume that most of you just made up your mind when you spotted the acronym “CVT” because this continually-varying transmission is the automotive world’s favourite hate victim. Yes, this one feels a bit sloshy and yes, it can sometimes sound like the (non-existent) clutch is about to explode.

Mazda CX-5 Carbon (Special) Edition

But, as you can probably deduct from the performance figures, it does a mighty fine job of moving the Koleos along. It also robs this larger engine’s marginal power advantage in daily driving conditions because the Koleos feels no faster on city streets than the slightly weaker but heavier CX-5.

Is that entirely down to the gearbox? Most probably, but I urge any fence-sitters to take both cars on an extended test-drive because they do behave differently. That also goes for highway manners where the Mazda benefits from slightly sharper dimensions and less wind rushing beneath its belly.

 CX-5 2.0 DynamiqueKoleos 2.5 Dynamique
Width / Height / Length1,845 / 1,675 / 4,575mm1,864 / 1,678 / 4,673mm
Towing weights 750-1,000kg750-1,500kg
Ground clearance185mm210mm
Turning radius 12m11.5m

Of course, less ground clearance could be a deal-breaker for the more adventurous among you; same for the inferior maximum (brake-assisted) towing capacity of the CX-5. I will note that the Mazda’s bottom chin spoiler scraped the odd pavement or steep driveway, while the Renault gave me no such troubles.

Another decision I don’t want to make on your behalf is the general driving comfort of these cars. I got very comfy behind the wheel of both examples, most technology was quickly learnt and we noted no major passenger complaints. In fact, compared to more expensive SUV’s, both these vehicles offered a fairly soft ride.

I can’t stress enough that your home environment will dictate a favourite choice because you may find that one of these two contends with speed humps or other suburban obstacles better than the other. Before I give you my verdict, here’s a final table of comparative information:

 CX-5 2.0 DynamiqueKoleos 2.5 Dynamique
Boot size440-1,915L465-1,795L
Fuel consumption6.9L/100km8.1L/100km
Tank size56L60L
Fuel range812km741km
Average CO2160g/km188g/km
Warranty3yr / unlimited km5yr / 150,000km
Service Plan3yr / unlimited km5yr / 90,000km
Price (2021)ZAR 540,400ZAR 544,900

While I appreciate the Koleos’ updated looks and Volvo-esque command centre, I would sign on Mazda’s dotted line for the CX-5. I’ll admit that some of Renault’s dark past also influenced that decision, coupled with the fact that it’s thirstier, dirtier and is only shipped with everyone’s least favourite transmission.

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