Long-term tests

Mazda 5: First report

A growing family needs a bigger car. So after a 2 supermini and 3 hatch, the 5 MPV is the next Mazda for us to test!

  • Powered sliding side doors come as standard in Sport trim, and they can be operated from the driver’s seat using switches on the centre console. A button on the fob even allows you to open and close the passenger side door remotely – a surefire way to get car park attention!
  • Disappointingly, the 5 misses out on a USB port for connecting my iPod – it just has an aux-in socket, like the 3 did. In addition, the plug is on the centre console, where it’s impossible to avoid a messy tangle of wires. I dare not leave the music player connected when the car is unattended, either, as it’s an open invitation to thieves.
Saying goodbye to a car you’ve grown attached to is always hard, but it’s a lot easier when a shiny new replacement 
is ready to slide into place! 
The time has come for me to say a fond farewell to our long- term Mazda 3, but I’m furthering my experience of the brand by swapping it for a 5 MPV. That makes it a hat-trick, as my relationship with the Japanese firm started back in June 2009 when a green Mazda 2 arrived 
in the Auto Express car park. 
It suited me down to the ground as I nipped between my North London home and the Auto Express office in central London. With perfect timing, 
it was swapped for the 3 hatch not long after I started a family and moved out of the city last June. And over the past 11 months, the 148bhp 2.2-litre diesel Sport has become a close and trusted friend for myself 
and daughter Daisy. But just 
as she is growing, so are my motoring needs, and the 5 could be the ideal solution.
So far, I’ve barely had the people carrier long enough to 
use a tank of fuel, 
but I’ve been eagerly awaiting its arrival 
– and that’s not something I ever thought I’d be writing about a seven-seater! While I’m a big 
fan of the 3 – with 
its sleek styling, generous equipment list and superb economy – the Mazda 5 has even more gadgets and space. 
I’ve been most excited about its extra load height, as Daisy 
has recently celebrated her first birthday and seems to get heavier by the day. Being able to lift 
her out of the people carrier with a straight back is already proving to be easier than bending into a low-slung hatchback… especially as the sliding rear doors open electrically.
The extra boot space is sure to come in handy, too, as the 3’s small 300-litre load area was its biggest weakness in my book. Our road test team highlighted this when they first put the five-door through its paces, and we have regularly filled it to the brim – or even taken a bigger car instead. In contrast, our buggy slides into the 5 with room to spare for the bags of baby-related kit that young parents invariably haul around with them.
I thought I’d miss the agile handling and lively responses 
of the 3, but, while the 5 is 
no sports car, it doesn’t drive 
like a tall-riding people carrier, either. Its gearbox has a familiar rifle-bolt action, and I also recognise its alert responses 
from behind the wheel. 
I’ll keep you posted on the 
fuel returns, but if the latest addition to our long-term fleet can get anywhere near matching the 41.4mpg economy of its predecessor – and replicate its incredible reliability and dependability – I know that 
the latest step up the Mazda ladder won’t disappoint.

Second Opinion

“It’s great to use a car as its designers intended, and the Mazda comes into its own when you start to use all of its seats. The electric doors sound like a gimmick, but their quiet operation is more pleasant for occupants when they’re being shut. Manual sliding doors tend to slam loudly.”

Ross Pinnock, Road test editor

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