From £17,845
Moderately fun to drive - but upcoming engines may suit it better than the 2.0 petrol

Our Verdict

Mazda 5

The second-generation Mazda 5 faces tougher than ever opposition

  • First Drive

    Mazda 5 2.0 TS2

    Nice to drive and well priced, but still a niche choice. Worth waiting for the diesel variant
  • First Drive

    Mazda 5 1.8 TS

    A compact, practical and flexible MPV worth popping on the shopping list
23 June 2010

What is it?

It's the revised Mazda 5, launched at the Geneva show back in March and driven here on a 'sneak preview' - which means full mechanical spec but a few grey areas when it comes to trim levels.

Visually the 5 marks a fresh attempt by Mazda to integrate its 'Nagare' design language into an MPV. That adds up to unusual creases along the flanks, but they do a decent job of breaking up what would be a slab of metal. It's less effective at the rear three-quarter which, thanks in part to the sliding rear door rails, looks uncomfortably heavy.

Elsewhere the 5 gets a revised interior, with improved cabin materials, new wheel designs and better NVH protection. And it keeps its third row of seats that folds into the floor.

The engine options are restricted to just two petrol motors; the existing 1.8-litre MZR unit gets an update to 113bhp and 122lb ft, as well as a six-speed transmission for the first time. It's slightly cleaner and more economical than before, too.

The other powerplant is new to the 5; it's a 2.0-litre MZR motor with Mazda's i-stop, a stop-start system that the firm claims is faster to restart than those of rival manufacturers. The new engine has 148bhp and 141lb ft, but is 13 per cent more economical than the outgoing 2.0, and emits 15 per cent less CO2, at 159g/km. It's also Euro5-compliant.

A diesel will follow early next year, incidentally; it's expected to be a 1.6-litre PSA-sourced unit.

What's it like?

An intriguing blend of part-driver's car, part-everyday MPV - but not entirely convincing at either role. Mazda has focused hard on what it calls "perfectly consistent linearity", which translates into linear steering, throttle and brake pedal feel.

It works, too. Few other cars in this class have such a sweet feel on turn-in, helped by excellent body control for a car of this size.

If only the engine were more willing to take advantage of this experience. We tried the 2.0-litre direct-injection unit and while it was smooth and, you've guessed it, linear in its power delivery, 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.

Thing is, the chassis tuning - centred on improving the car's progression from braking to cornering to acceleration - has resulted in a ride which, while fine on smooth Austrian routes, could be caught out by Britain's latest generation of super-potholes. It's not horrendous, but the damping is definitely on the firmer side of the class average.

The cabin retains plenty of practicality, with a modular second row of seats. But while the fit and finish feels solid enough, too many of the visible surfaces are still hard to the touch for the interior to feel 'premium'.

Should I buy one?

See the Mazda 5 pictures here

You should consider it; if you're prepared to work that 2.0-litre motor hard then there is a modicum of fun to be had here, and that's hardly the norm in the MPV segment.

But it could be worth a wait; engine progress elsewhere - in small petrol turbos and turbodiesels - means Mazda will need to expand the range sooner rather than later.

See all the latest Mazda 5 reviews, news and video

John McIlroy

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Comments
11

23 June 2010

[quote Autocar]That adds up to unusual creases along the flanks[/quote]

Panel beaters nightmare

23 June 2010

I always liked the 5 as it's roomy, was decent to drive, very good value and looked much better than most MPVs - it also has three rows of seating (I do think they should offer it with 6 seats like they do in North American though - most people have 2 kids and want a big boot and shoulder room with occasional seats for their friends occasionally). My complaints about the last "5" were that it was noisy, rode too firmly and the driver's seat didn't have quite enough adjustment. Sounds like they've sorted the noise, the ride actually sounds less harsh than the previous model as well! They really need to drop the 2.2 diesel in there though and hurry up getting the Ford/PSA 1.6 turbo that's currently in the C5.

23 June 2010

With three small kids at home, I'm in the market for a vehicle like this to replace my wife's Honda Odyssey. Having three rows of seats helps reduce kid squabbling, and the price is cheap (the current US-spec 5 sells for about $20,000 well-equipped). My two gripes about the current 5 are the minivan styling and the crappy fuel economy (the 2.3L four is only rated at 21 city, 27 hwy on the US test cycle). From the photos this new 5 has better styling, but still looks like a minivan to me and certainly not as crisp as the upcoming Grand C-Max. No word on fuel economy until I know what engine(s) Mazda will offer in North America. Assuming the prices are comparable, Grand C-Max looks like a more enticing alternative.

23 June 2010

I dont get the mazda marketing department why do they call this large MPV the 5 ?

It's bigger then the 6 but its called the 5 ? most company's that use numbers order the number to the car size in its range odd that mazda call this a 5 should be a 7 or is there already a 7 ?

23 June 2010

[quote moe360]I dont get the mazda marketing department why do they call this large MPV the 5 ?[/quote] It is based on the platform of the 3, so that might be the reasoning? For the person in the U.S even the 2.3 is more efficient than the Odessey! My mother in law has one and it's great on flat highway, but on hills and in the city I get 20mpg at best. I believe they'll just be dropping in the 2.5 from the mazda 3, which is just a stroked version of the 2.3. For now it still won't be great fuel economy compared to a small car, but every year it's been out the Mazda 5 has won the fuel economy award for mpvs!

23 June 2010

[quote theonlydt][quote moe360]I dont get the mazda marketing department why do they call this large MPV the 5 ?[/quote] It is based on the platform of the 3, so that might be the reasoning? For the person in the U.S even the 2.3 is more efficient than the Odessey! My mother in law has one and it's great on flat highway, but on hills and in the city I get 20mpg at best. I believe they'll just be dropping in the 2.5 from the mazda 3, which is just a stroked version of the 2.3. For now it still won't be great fuel economy compared to a small car, but every year it's been out the Mazda 5 has won the fuel economy award for mpvs![/quote] The 5 is based on the 3 - it's Mazda's "midi MPV", equivalent to the Touran, Grand C4 Picasso, Grand Scenic, Grand C-Max - all of which are based on small family hatchbacks - Golf, C4, Megane, Focus respectively. I think this is probably where the numbering comes from. Also, I reckon a 6 Estate is probably slightly bigger than the current 5, and possibly even the new one. I think it looks alright, but I prefer the current model's styling - it's less fussy, and the rear end on this new model still reminds me of a certain Ssangyong!

"The creative adult is the child who survived."

23 June 2010

I want to knock that stupid smile right off it's face. Why do Mazda insist on putting that ever increasingly massive clown smile on the front of their cars? Makes for interesting Reading then on Autoblog that Mazda intends to change it's styling direction! I can see why!!

24 June 2010

[quote moe360]I dont get the mazda marketing department why do they call this large MPV the 5 ? [/quote]

Blame Mazda Europe. In Japan they still call it the Premacy.

24 June 2010

1.6 diesel hauling a fully loaded car?! Come on Mazda, install the excellent 2.2 diesel and you will have a winner!

25 June 2010

[quote adrian888]1.6 diesel hauling a fully loaded car?! Come on Mazda, install the excellent 2.2 diesel and you will have a winner![/quote]

Exactly but perhaps they have to protect Ford S Max sales!

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