Car group tests

New Mazda 5 vs rivals

Latest MPVs offer more for the money than ever – but can Mazda’s new 5 beat seven-seat rivals from Ford and Toyota?

New Mazda 5 vs. rivals
Family motorists will be in seventh heaven if the latest wave of new metal to hit dealers is anything to go by. People carriers with seven seats are enjoying a resurgence – and the Mazda 5 is the latest to enter the fray.
The newcomer is a heavily revised version of the outgoing car, but a distinctive fresh look and versatile cabin mark it out as a force to be reckoned with. We try the new 113bhp 1.6-litre diesel in Sport trim, and at £21,950 it’s the most expensive model on show here. Yet the Mazda isn’t the only Japanese machine with its sights set on family buyers.
Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the Mazda 5
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We have never tested the Toyota Verso in oil-burning guise, so does the 125bhp 2.0 D-4D put the car back on the people carrier map? It is the only model in our trio not to feature sliding rear doors, but in TR trim it’s the most affordable choice. 
Creeping up on the inside is our current class leader. The Ford Grand C-MAX seized the compact MPV crown in Issue 1,144, and its winning blend of practicality, price and driving fun will be hard to beat. The 113bhp 1.6-litre diesel variant is here to defend its honour, in high-spec Titanium trim. It splits its Far Eastern rivals on price. Does it leave them trailing on the road?

Verdict

Compact MPVs now account for nearly six per cent of UK car sales, which is why so many manufacturers are vying for honours. But which of our contenders looks set to reign in this lucrative market?
It didn’t take us long to establish that the Ford and Mazda would be fighting it out for victory. For all its practicality and affordability, the bland Toyota finishes last here. In isolation it doesn’t put a foot wrong, but after a stint in the other cars it simply feels very ordinary.
Second place goes to the new 5. We’re not convinced by the fresh look, although the core strengths of the old model remain, and the new 1.6-litre diesel is a welcome addition. 
The Mazda is also brilliant value, but not quite good enough to knock the Ford off its perch.
While the new Grand C-MAX isn’t exactly attractive, the upmarket cabin and polished driving experience make it an enormously appealing choice. Neither of its competitors can match the feelgood factor you get simply from sitting behind the wheel – and that’s before you even drive it anywhere...

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