From outside the most obvious change is to the nose, which now has the large grille and swept-back headlights of the Mazda3. It retains its twin rear sliding doors, which are one of its most useful features.
Along its sides are wave-like indentations, which originate from its designers ‘Nagare’ wind and water design language, currently applied to all new Mazda models.
Horizontal rear lights are successful in giving the Mazda5 a lower appearance, and it’s true the whole car feels low-slung and sporty for an MPV.
Inside, the cabin materials feel solid and well fitted, but the design is staid and functional first and foremost.
Ingenious rear seats allow four-, five-, six- and seven-seat configurations and all adjustments can be completed with a single-handed pull or push – crucial when holding a child or luggage.
With all seven seats in use, there’s only 112 litres of luggage room, which expands to 426 litres in four-seat mode and 1,566 litres with all rear seats stowed.
The centre section of the middle row can be left as a seat or transformed into a storage bin and table or flipped on its side to provide a gap for skis and surfboards. This offers great flexibility, however it must be noted it’s the least comfortable place to sit in the Mazda5 when in its seating mode.
Impressive on the road
Out on the road the Mazda5 is easy to drive thanks to its precise steering, well-weighted pedals and the excellent gear change, which is close at hand thanks to its dashboard mounted position.
The original Mazda5 was one of the most car-like MPV’s to drive, and this car is no different. We sampled it with a 1.8-litre and 2-litre petrol engine, with 113bhp and 148bhp, and the first felt like it needed to be worked reasonably hard, especially when pulling onto the motorway.
With more pulling power, the 2-litre was relaxing to drive and quiet, while its direct fuel injection and start and stop technology helps it to be cleaner than the smaller engine with 159g/km of CO2 emissions instead of 168g/km.
The bigger engine manages an average of 41mpg too, while the less efficient 1.8-litre can only muster 39mpg, making it an obvious choice if the higher sticker price is affordable.
New 1.6-litre diesel
In the UK a new 1.6-litre diesel engine will be the big seller, but it’s not yet available to review. With 113bhp and economy of 54.3mpg it should have enough performance for most, while offering the best economy in the range. Its emissions of 138g/km of CO2 it will also be cheaper to tax than many hatchbacks, and even some superminis.
Trim levels include TS, TS2 and Sport, the first getting a good level of equipment including 16-inch alloy wheels, heated door mirrors, central locking, cruise control, air-con and a CD player with Aux-in for MP3 player input.
Model tested: Mazda5 1.8, Mazda5 2.0
Date tested: October 2010
Road tester: Andy Goodwin
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