Mazda 5 review
Few people carriers handle quite as well as the Mazda 5, and with seven-seats and sliding rear doors, it’s also seriously practical
Functional and practical, but also stylish and fun to drive, the Mazda 5 is a great all-rounder. Families will love its sliding rear doors, big boot and folding seats, while drivers will appreciate the punchy 1.6-litre diesel engine and well-weighted steering. The swoopy styling may divide opinion, but with the same sharp family grille found on the Mazda 3 hatchback, the 5 manages to avoid the dowdy look of some seven-seaters. Its reasonably compact dimensions do mean that it will only fit seven at a push - Mazda even brands it as a 6+1 - but that also means the Mazda is simple to drive in town and parking is a fuss-free affair.
Our choice: Mazda 5 1.6D Venture Edition
The design of the Mazda 5 was given a thorough overhaul in 2010 – and it looks much more purposeful as a result. The family grille is shared with other models in the range, but the flowing lines across the door panels make it stand out from the MPV crowd, even if they won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. There's only one version available at the moment, the Venture Edition, which gets alloy wheels a roof spoiler and body coloured side-skirts. Equipment levels are very high, and the simple cabin design is easy to use, but the hard, shiny plastics are a long way behind the class best. Build quality is pleasingly robust throughout, though.
Two engines are on offer in the Mazda 5 – one petrol and one diesel, and both come with six-speed manual gearboxes. The 2.0-litre petrol produces 148bhp, but it lacks urgency at low revs. The 1.6-litre diesel is much punchier, and despite producing less power feels quicker in the real world. For an MPV, grip levels are really impressive, and the quick steering and accurate gearbox make the Mazda 5 rewarding to drive. Ride comfort is good too, although it’s not quite as refined as rivals like the newer Ford C-MAX.
There should be no question of the Mazda’s mechanical reliability, as the company has a well deserved reputation for building trouble free cars, and the engines have all proved themselves in other models in the range. The bodyshell of the new model is stronger than on the previous version – which received the maximum five-star Euro NCAP rating. Traction control and a full complement of airbags are standard fit.
The Mazda 5 was one of the first MPVs to use sliding rear doors, and they are still a big boost to practicality. You can open them easily in tightly packed car parks, and they give great access to the middle and rearmost seats. The middle row seats slide independently, and the middle chair can be removed to make a handy walkway through to the back row, or the centre sat can be replaced by a big storage bin that fold out of the side seat. Fold all the seats away and boot space is average rather than class leading. With only the driver and one passenger there’s 1,566-litres of room, and that space shrinks to 426 litres with five seats in place.
This is where the Mazda 5 starts to struggle, as it lacks fuel saving kit of rivals like the Renault Grand Scenic and Vauxhall Zafira Tourer. The petrol engines averages around 40mpg and has CO2 emissions of 159g/km. The diesel model cuts this down to 138g/km and drops down two Road Tax bands in the process, and should also go 14 miles further on every gallon of fuel. Insurance costs are reasonable though – and resale values are similar to those of its close rivals.