What is it?
This is the new Mazda 5, the Japanese manufacturer’s latest take on its functional mid-size family MPV.
We stole a sneak preview drive of it earlier in the year, but that was in still-to-be-finalised, pre-prod form. That example was powered by Mazda’a new, all singing and dancing 2.0 DISI i-stop petrol engine.
Here, we drive it with a revised, more economical version of the firm’s existing 113bhp, 122lb ft 1.8-litre petrol engine, mated to the six-speed manual gearbox that will come as standard no matter which engine you chose.
The new 5 also benefits from a healthy dose of Mazda’s ‘wind on water’ Nagare design language, which translates into some not unappealing swoopy curves and swathes along the flanks, mated to the firm’s new family face up front.
What’s it like?
To drive? Really not bad at all. Mazda was keen to make the point that a driver-friendly ‘unified linear feel’ has been engineered into the new 5, refining the transition from braking, through turn-in to corner exit into one seamless process.
Sounds like it should be taken with a pinch of salt, but the reality is that the 5 is a particularly smooth steer and not a little rewarding to drive.
It turns in and grips impressively well for an MPV, and the transition to throttle-on acceleration out of corners is genuinely involving, at least to a point.
That point being when you might hope for a bit more poke from the engine. The 1.8 petrol motor is smooth enough in its delivery, but gets noisier and wheezier the more you ask from it. This is a family car first and foremost, however, so expectations shouldn’t really be that high.
We drove two versions, one on 16-inch wheels, one on 17-inchers. On 16s the ride was impressively smooth, quiet and refined, at least on Germany’s impressively smooth roads. On 17s there was a noticeable increase in road noise, and bumps and imprefections were more pronounced in the cabin, although not overwhelmingly intrusive.
Inside the 5 is practical if a little dour, with access made all the easier by dual sliding doors.
However, to call it a true seven-seater is asking a lot of the narrow middle row. The two outer seats are fine, but the otherwise clever and flexible folding central section doesn’t offer much room to sit when in ‘seat’ mode.
Should I buy one?
It’s certainly worth putting on your shopping list if you’re after a compact, practical and flexible small-to-medium sized MPV.
The 5 is at times genuinely entertaining to drive, given the obvious limitations of a vehicle of this size. However, there’s a lot of competition in the sector, not least of which are the brand new C-Max and Grand C-Max. Ford’s offerings could well steal attention, not to mention sales, away from Mazda’s otherwise likeable new 5.