The 1.6-litre diesel in the Mazda 5 develops 113bhp, a modest power output for a car that weighs 1555kg when we tested it. Even using Mazda’s 1490kg claimed weight as a measure, this is a 76bhp-per-tonne car and isn’t endowed with sparkling acceleration; 60mph arrives in 12.6sec. Nevertheless, on the road, in-gear progress doesn’t feel as lethargic as the figures suggest.
Less impressive, though, is the refinement of this eight-valve diesel engine. Whatever changes Mazda has wrought have not brought about the reduction in noise levels it would have hoped for – or, if it has, then too little soundproofing has been applied between the engine and the cabin. Wind and road noise are also present, but whether at higher engine speeds or at idle, noise from the motor is prevalent.
You might hope for a bit more poke from the 1.8-litre petrol engine. It’s smooth enough in its delivery, but gets noisier and wheezier the more you ask from it. If only the 2.0-litre engine were more willing to take advantage of the Mazda’s fine chassis. The direct-injection unit is smooth and inear in its power delivery, yet it feels like some of its potential has been sacrificed in the name of lower CO2 emissions. Certainly the revised, taller gearing doesn't do it any favours, but it feels more like a slightly overwhelmed 1.6 than a 2.0; you can see why small turbos, such as VW's 1.4 TSi unit, are taking over.
We’ve no complaints with the 5’s brakes, which hauled it from 70mph to a standstill in less than 50 metres and from 60-0 in 2.87sec – a more than acceptable performance. They resisted fade adequately, too.