The Road Ahead : August 2013
ROADAHEAD.COM.AU 46 THE ROAD AHEAD AUG/SEP 2013 MOTORING | ROAD TEST DESIGN AND FUNCTION Our trio boasts a five-star ANCAP crash safety rating (the best there is). And environmentally, Forester rates four and a half (out of five) stars in the Federal Government's Green Vehicle Guide, a half-star ahead of Outlander and one ahead of CX-5. The Mitsubishi's security credentials are enhanced by an alarm as standard, while the Subaru is wired for installation for same and also comes with DataDot theft recovery identification. Open the door and chances are you will find the Mazda boasts the most inviting and impressive interior. All three come with cloth, not leather, seat trim in an obligatory dark grey (in the interests of durability), but it's the CX-5 that looks the smartest, thanks to tasteful styling highlights. Ditto the dashboard layout -- not only are the instruments and switches logically laid out, but the whole presentation is very 21st century and devoid of any pretentious bling. There's nothing wrong with the functionality of the Subaru or Mitsubishi, but by contrast Forester looks a little conservative while Outlander lacks the quality feel of the others. Behind the wheel, each measures up ergonomically: steering able to be adjusted for tilt and reach, driver's seat with slide/ height/backrest adjustment (all manual), a footrest, and audio/ cruise/bluetooth controls on the steering wheel. And in terms of seating comfort, all provide well, though CX-5 offers better lateral support -- but there's not much in it. By our measurements Subaru is the most generous for front and rear head room, front leg room and rear seat width. The cargo areas are all user-friendly, with a flat floor, four tie-downs and no interior load lip or major intrusion. Here, where size does matter, Outlander is the most accommodating and CX-5 less so. Extra carrying capacity in each is easily accessed by dropping the split-fold rear seats, all of which flat fold conveniently. There are storage spaces aplenty across all three -- door pockets, back of the front seats, console, armrests, boot, etc -- but the Mitsubishi impresses particularly with a combination of moulded plastic bins under the cargo floor. It and the Subaru have a full size spare wheel, whereas the Mazda makes do with a spacesaver. ON (AND OFF) THE ROAD Tipping the scales at 1559kg, the Mazda might be 80kg heavier than the Subaru and 60kg more than the Mitsubishi but, at 88.5kW/tonne and 160.4Nm/tonne, it can claim a power and torque-to-weight advantage over the former (85.2 and 158.9) and the latter (82.9 and 147.2). No surprise, then, that while all three are rated to tow 750kg unbraked, CX-5 can pull 1800kg compared to 1600 for Outlander and 1500kg for Forester. It's also no eyebrow raiser that the Mazda should perform the best in our standard acceleration tests. From a standing start, it covered the 400m in 16.5 seconds, rattling off times from 0-60, 0-80 and 0-100km/h of 3.9, 6.1 and 9.0 seconds respectively. Each was the best part of a second quicker than the Subaru, which shaded the Mitsubishi. It proved pretty handy in roll-on acceleration, too, going from 50-80km/h in 3.8 seconds -- 0.5 better than Outlander. However, the outcome was reversed from IMAGE: FROM TOP, MAZDA CX-5 MAXX SPORT, MITSUBISHI OUTLANDER ES AND SUBARU FORESTER 2.5I.