1 October 2004

Ford’s Japanese subsidiary completed what its president, Hisakazu Imaki, described as ‘the strongest product line-up in its history’ at Paris last week, with the global debut of the aptly-named Mazda 5, the fifth of its new generation models. But it won’t arrive in the UK for a year, leaving a sizable hole in that line-up and Mazda trailing its established rivals. The company’s new entrant into the growing midi-MPV sector replaces both the Premacy and the larger MPV models. It brings two key firsts into the MPV segment; sliding rear doors, and a six-plus-one seating concept (right).

Based on the Ford C1 platform that also underpins the Mazda 3, its wheelbase has been stretched to 2750mm to accommodate a third row of seats and allow for improved access via the wide-opening sliding doors. Overall length is 4505mm — just 85mm longer than the company’s standard C-segment hatchback. Width is just 1755mm — identical to the Mazda 3. ‘The Japanese don’t like wide cars,’ explained chief designer Tabata Koji.

Inside, there’s room for six adults, with both front- and middle-row seats sliding fore and aft independently. A seventh seat folds out from underneath the left-hand seat; it’s narrower than the others, but provides room for a small passenger. It can be exchanged for a storage net deploying from underneath the opposite seat, or folded away to allow access to the third row. Both second- and third-row seats fold flat.

Power will come from a choice of 113bhp 1.8- and 143bhp MZR 2.0-litre dohc in-line four-cylinder petrol engines, or 2.0-litre MZR-CD turbodiesels with either 108 or 140bhp.

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