Long-term tests

Mazda 5: Second report

Our MPV’s sliding doors have helped make life a whole lot easier for our working mum

  • The Mazda 5 is a seven-seat MPV, but it shares all the fun driving characteristics of the firm’s other models – from the tiny 2 to the racy MX-5. The steering is precise, there’s plenty of grip, and it feels surprisingly agile around the twisty lanes near my home. I also love the high driving position and great visibility.
  • Although I’ve got used to it now, when I first stepped inside the 5, the cabin quality was a real letdown, particularly having spent a year behind the wheel of the 3. By comparison, the 5’s dash looks and feels cheap. But at least there are lots of useful gadgets to distract me from the shiny plastics.
The sliding doors on my Mazda 5 may not have transformed my life, but they’ve certainly helped to speed it up. And that means it’s even easier for me to switch from mild-mannered mum in the morning, to the hard-nosed hack that needs to sniff out stories all day long for Auto Express. And all this at the flick of a switch.
It probably wasn’t one of the tests carried out at Mazda HQ, but the simple, key fob-operated doors have practically turned my early morning exit from the house into an Olympic sport. This usually involves me sprinting up my garden path – daughter Daisy under one arm, and my bags, her bags and a selection of spare coats under the other – then kicking the gate open while somehow simultaneously activating the Mazda’s magic doors, possibly with my teeth, so they’re already open when I reach it.
Everything then gets slung in the back, including poor Daisy, allowing me to reach nursery in super-fast time. And the benefits extend beyond the morning rush hour. Parking in town, at the supermarket, or on busy roads is now relatively stress-free, as I can pick any old cramped space and still know there’s enough room to manoeuvre Daisy in and out.
The doors aren’t the only nifty feature on my Mazda 5, either. There’s loads of legroom in the back for friends and family, or stray toys, and overflow shopping bags when I’ve pushed the boot to capacity. And even that’s hard to do, despite being permanently home to Daisy’s trike and her super-sized off-road pram.
As we both often breakfast in the car, the 5’s leather seats are a welcome addition, too, making it easy to wipe away the odd milk spillage or residue of butter-smeared bread. I also make the most of the hands-free Bluetooth connectivity, planning my day while I’m en route to the office. And the auto wipers have been successfully put to the test during recent downpours.
While I’m singing the 5’s praises, I should say my initial disappointment with the car’s outmoded cabin has almost worn off. A recent facelift has given the 5’s interior a similar look to other models in Mazda’s line-up, although it lacks the soft-touch plastics and upmarket feel of my old 3 hatchback.
The 5’s 1.6-litre diesel engine is surprisingly punchy, and the initially disappointing economy has started to pick up, too, with returns of just over 40mpg – good enough to keep this budget- conscious working mum happy.

Extra Info

“Initially, I thought the ability to open the 5’s nearside rear door remotely was a gimmick. But it’s amazing how handy it is if you have kids in tow. Economy of 40.4mpg is almost as impressive. Our old Mazda 3 hatch averaged 41.4mpg.”
Ross Pinnock, Road Test Editor

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