Thanks to clever design the Mazda5 has developed a loyal fan base, but Motoring Journalist DAVID HOOPER, editor of wheelworldreviews.co.uk, says the latest version raises its game markedly.
THE Mazda5 has been with us for a few years now and in that time has built up a loyal following, but in my opinion, this new model has the potential to expand that fan base considerably.
Many of these mid-size people carriers are slab-sided dullards bearing more of a resemblance to vans with windows than attractive family transport, but not the Mazda5, its easy on the eye.
Mazda’s Nagare flow design adds swoops and curves to the sides of the car which not only add character, but also appeal. More clever design work sees the D pillar magically disappear. Masked by the rear light units and surrounded by dark tinted glazing which runs from the front doors back, the Mazda5 achieves a visual appeal many of its rivals don’t.
However, the appeal of the Mazda5 is far more than skin deep. The thoughtful, clever design continues inside the vehicle, which the company says can accommodate up to seven people, but in the real world, is more like 6.5. It’s not a problem though – mum, dad, one set of grandparents and 2.5 children equals 6.5! Joking apart, the Mazda5 will take seven people in the traditional layout of two up front, three in the middle row of seats, and two more people in the back, but the three in the middle may be a bit squashed. The two outer seats are full size, but the middle seat, the .5, would really only suit a small to medium sized child, but would be fine for short trips like the school run, for example.
Thanks to a clever folding system Mazda calls Karakuri, the middle seat can be folded away to create a walk-through space to the back row of seats, or a hidden storage box can be extracted from under the right-hand passenger seat for handy storage solutions for kids on the move.
All the seats can be folded flat into the floor to create van-like amounts of space, or easily configured for whatever mix of luggage and people you need to transport.
Even getting into the vehicle has been well thought out. The two rear doors slide, brilliant for tight parking spaces, while the left one, on the pavement side of the car, can be opened remotely from the key fob – very useful if you’ve got your arms full of small children or shopping. The doors can also be opened remotely by the driver from a little panel to the right of the steering column.
Driving the Mazda5 is no hardship either. It’s a very comfortable car, with the leather seats on the Sport model I’ve been testing coming with their own arm rests.
Standard equipment levels are good with useful things like Bluetooth and an affordable sat nav system available.
As we have come to expect from Mazda, it’s good on the road, too, with precise, accurate handling, and a more refined cabin in this latest model thanks to a reduction in road noise, although a bit more work in that department wouldn’t go amiss, especially on concrete motorway surfaces like the A180.
The 2.0-litre Sport model I’ve been testing returned an average of 35mpg on a motorway trip to visit relatives over the New Year break, which considering it was transporting three adults and, as usual, too much luggage, wasn’t bad. That figure was helped the car’s i-stop system, which switched the engine off in the inevitable M5 traffic queues. Obviously, the 1.6-litre diesel engined models would return around 15mpg more in real world conditions. A 1.8 petrol is also an option.
Overall then, the Mazda5 is a cleverly-designed, well thought out and reasonably priced car, but if you genuinely need seven proper seats, then consider some of the opposition before parting with your cash.
THE VITAL STATISTICS
MODEL: Mazda 5 2.0 Sport.
MAZDA 5 RANGE: From 1.8 TS 5dr (£18,150) to 1.6D Sport 5dr (£21,950).
ENGINE: 1998cc, 150PS four-cylinder engine, driving front wheels through 6-speed manual gearbox.
CO2 EMISSIONS: 159g/km.
PERFORMANCE: Top speed 120mph. 0-62mph in 11 secs.
ECONOMY: City: 31.4mpg.
Fuel tank: 60 litres.
INSURANCE: Group 16.
WARRANTY: 3 years/60,000 miles.
• All data correct at time of publication.