Smart City Brake Support - 2014 Mazda CX-5 Long-Term Road Test

2014 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring AWD Long-Term Road Test

2014 Mazda CX-5: Smart City Brake Support

April 25, 2013

2014 Mazda CX-5

Our long-term 2014 Mazda CX-5 is the Grand Touring trim level and is equipped with the optional Technology package. Among well-known features like a navigation system and xenon headlights, the Technology also adds an unusual safety feature for this vehicle segment: Smart City Brake Support.

Smart City Brake Support (SCBS) is Mazda's new collision mitigation/avoidance system that operates at low vehicle speeds. In that sense, it's quite similar to the "City Safety" system that Volvo has been installing on its vehicles for a few years now.

By utilizing a laser-based sensor mounted in the rear-view mirror housing (pointing forwards through the windshield), SCBS monitors vehicles that are a short distance ahead of the Mazda CX-5. At low speeds, SCBS can reduce the damage in the event of a collision by automatically applying the CX-5's brakes when the sensor determines that a collision with the vehicle ahead is unavoidable.

According to the owner's manual, Smart City Brake Support is active from about 2 to 18 mph. It's capable of completely avoiding an accident between the CX-5 and a vehicle ahead if the relative speed between them is less than 9.3 mph.

There are all sorts of disclaimers in the owner's manual for when SCBS might not work (incidents involving pedestrians and cyclists being the most notable). Still, I happen to think safety features like this are pretty neat. While SCBS won't ever stop a Mazda CX-5 driver from committing a major rear-end accident, it could minimize or even stop a low-speed fender-bender in traffic.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 5,283 miles


  • quadricycle quadricycle Posts:

    They key here is that this system COULD avoid minor fender benders on day when you weren't quite paying attention, which is fine, you may thank it for that one day. I'm just not quite convinced we should be putting in all these "Smart" cruise control/blind-spot monitoring/(inserted marketing hype talk here) systems in cars. They do in some ways make you/me lazy, inattentive drivers.

  • fsunole fsunole Posts:

    I can vouch that the system works. The guard gate to leave my complex is one of those lowering arm types that opens as you drive up to it and it's covered in reflective tape. With my old car I would only slow down to 10mph as I approached because it raised up fast enough that you didn't need to come to a complete stop. The first time trying this in my CX-5 the whole car came to a screeching halt, with my foot still on the gas. Apparently the SCBS system picked up the reflective tape and registered it as a car and didn't think I was slowing down enough and applied 100% braking to stop me. Scared the bejesus out of me but at least I know the system actually works now :-)

  • ed124c ed124c Posts:

    Hmm... Will it work in the Winter with snow on the windshield? After all, wipers can't clear the top center of the windshield. And what about a dirty windshield-- or a press-on sunshield strip? Did the lawyers account for all that?

  • fsunole fsunole Posts:

    ed124c, The wipers actually do move over the portion of the windshield where the SCBS is located. I can't speak to a dirty windshield since I clean my car every week. For the tinted strip at the top, the housing for the mirror where SBCS is located is actually quite large and flush with the inside of the windshield, unlike the system in the Subaru Forester where there is a gap between the sensors and the glass. So I assume anyone tinting the top part of the windshield would just tint the parts on each side of the unit. Another observation I have on the system is that it will set off the laser warning on your radar detector constantly. I was getting warnings on my V1 every 5-10 seconds, so I disabled the laser warning on my V1. You're screwed anyways if you get hit with laser (unless you have jammers) so I didn't mind that much. At least it's not like Audi's where the blind spot system sets off the K band radar alert.

  • I just test drove two different Mazda 6s specifically to test the City Brake. This feature is absolutely non-functional. I first pulled each vehicle behind a parked car, and then pressed the accelerator. According to Mazda's web site, an alarm is supposed to sound on the dash, and the system is supposed to cut the accelerator if it senses the driver is going to accelerate into a vehicle stopped in front of the car. Neither of these things happened. I tested the same using different parked vehicles at fifferent ranges, and also with a concrete wall. Nothing. I then tested the automatic braking feature while driving. According to Mazda, the car should warn of impending collision at speeds 18mph or less. (18 mph is very slow, by the way.) At 15 mph approaching a stopped vehicle, no warnings or automatic braking occurred from 100 feet to 5 feet of the target car. I had to manually slam the brakes on. I also tested the feature to see if it would at least warn of a collision at speeds above 18mph. I approached a target car at a speed of 30mph and there was absolutely no peep out of the system. I confirmed on both window stickers that the City Brake feature was installed, confirmed there were what appeared to be multiple sensors under the rear view mirror, and also confirmed features on the system right from the Mazda web site while the Mazda salespeople were reading over my shoulder. What's up with this, Mazda?

Leave a Comment

Past Long-Term Road Tests

Have a question? We're here to help!
Chat online with us
Email us at
*Available daily 8AM-5PM Pacific
Call us at 855-782-4711
Text us at ED411