The Road Ahead : August 2013
QUEENSLAND'S LARGEST CLUB 47 AUG/SEP 2013 THE ROAD AHEAD ROAD TEST | MOTORING COSTS & RATINGS ^ Prices are Manufacturers' List Prices, not driveaway or special deal. ^^ Insurance cost is based on an RACQ Insurance comprehensive policy for a 35-year-old male, maximum no claim bonus, vehicle financially unencumbered, and $500 excess. Postcode 4066, multi-policy and RACQ member loyalty discounts may apply. Discounts of 2.5-15 percent may be available to RACQ members, depending on length of membership. Price^ $36,620^ Environmental rating ANCAP safety rating Annual insurance costs^^ $813.77 Capped price servicing N/A MAZDA CX-5 MAXX SPORT Price^ $33,990^ Environmental rating ANCAP safety rating Annual insurance costs^^ $708.45 Capped price servicing $295 per service over 4 years/60,000km MITSUBISHI OUTLANDER ES Price^ $32,990^ Environmental rating ANCAP safety rating Annual insurance costs^^ $813.77 Capped price servicing N/A SUBARU FORESTER 2.5I 60-100km/h, where the Mitsubishi (5.0 seconds) prevailed by nearly a second. Forester was fairly pedestrian by comparison, returning times of 4.9 and 7.1 seconds. Importantly, the results confirmed the overall impression you get from driving all three vehicles back-to-back. The Mazda clearly feels the most spirited and responsive. It stops just as well, too, pulling up in an impressive 22.7 metres from 80km/h, which must go close to class leading. This was 0.7m shorter than Forester and 1.6m better than Outlander. And it doesn't end there ... CX-5 is the most competent dynamically, on a twisty road delighting its driver with keen turn in and tight (for segment) body control and good grip levels. There's a nice balance to it all, communication constantly streaming through the well-weighted steering. That's not to say Forester and Outlander don't deliver in meeting their target market's likely handling expectations and demands, it's just that CX-5 does it and then some. Our trio offers occupants a supple ride, though it's the Subaru which does the best job of smoothing out the impact of our typical back road bumps and potholes. All give off some tyre roar over coarse chip surfaces, but then this more the norm than the exception. Mechanical noise is pretty well suppressed on the Mazda, which proved quietest at idle and constant 80km/h, but not as controlled as the Subaru under acceleration from 50-80km/h. While the bulk of SUVs will spend most -- if not all -- of their time on the blacktop, those with all-wheel-drive credentials should have some degree of off-road capability. With this in mind, we put our threesome to the test in slick conditions on the dirt roads that traverse Mt Mee State Forest and in the countryside around Imbil. From stationary, climbing a slippery slope, the hill- start-assist function that is standard on all three proved its worth. Heading downhill was more of a challenge for the Mazda, which required a degree of finessing. Ditto the Mitsubishi, even on 'full attack' with its 4WD Lock activated. No such problems for the Subaru, whose X-Mode function maintains a constant speed through its hill descent control and applies the brakes as required, leaving the driver to basically just steer. Forester also went bush where the others couldn't, strutting its articulation competence in 'crawling' up a steep, deeply rutted bank that stopped CX-5 and Outlander in their tracks, thanks to its superior (220mm) ground clearance and grippy Yokohama Geolander tyres. CONCLUSION So, which is the winner? We make it CX-5. Sure, it doesn't win the value for money equation (the Mitsubishi does) and the Subaru has the edge in design and function, but the Mazda rules on the road (except when the blacktop turns to dirt) and is so convincing a performer in most other areas that it deserves to take home the chocolates.