The quirky MPV
What happens when you give a kite-surfer to a nun or an ipad to your granny? The same thing that happens when you give a bachelor a seven-seater family MPV to test: they have no idea what to do with it. I had no clue how to review the new Mazda 5 until I had the following brain wave:
Ladies. All practical and momsy things I discovered shall be reported to you in italics. Guys. All the technical and manly stuff in this ride will be written in bold. Should something appeal to both Ma and Pa, I shall apply both styles of text.
Flowing creases accentuate the Mazda’s body, topped off by headlights that resemble a sand-blasted vase. Despite having undersized wheels, at least they feature tasty rims and low-profile rubber. Overall, the Five has an appealing, non-MPV shape which is underlined by its raked windscreen.
The interior is massive! Front head- and leg-room is only outdone by rear seating dimensions. Both rear doors slide backwards to grant fantastic access to the second row with adjustable and sliding seats. Two more seats easily fold out of the rear cargo floor and should even accommodate adults on short journeys.
There’s a lot of black plastic and cloth in the Mazda. The quality’s ok and some seem hardy enough to fend off soft serve and happy meals. The dials are crisp and clean, the steering wheel is cool. Ventilation controls are dead simple, the radio isn’t.
Wow! The seats are very supportive and have retractable arm-rests for added long-distance comfort. There’s a space-age pod on top of the dashboard which tells you time, temperature and audio information. And consumption, which hovered just over 9L/100km during our week of testing.
This car has oddment space and cubby holes everywhere, the ceiling is nice and tall while the pattern on the seats is quite funky. The driver’s door pocket houses multiple switches for electric windows and mirrors, door locks and the like. Visibility is quite good from the driver’s seat.
The clutch is very light and the gear-change has a positive feel to it, both sun visors have mirrors and the radio says “Hello” when you switch it on! The audio system sounds good but requires serious tinkering until you figure everything out.
Mazda has equipped this car with front, side and curtain airbags as well as stability control and ABS brakes with emergency assistants. Prices range from N$249,140 to N$285,140 depending on spec level and all Fives come with a four-year 120,000km warranty and five-year 90,000km service plan.
That’s very good value for such a big car, which also offers you a multi-function adjustable steering wheel and power folding mirrors. Power comes from a 1999cc 16-valve four pot which delivers 106kW (144hp) or 180Nm in an eager and linear fashion. It loves to rev and has good torque, too.
Driving the Mazda 5 is quite easy, the steering is light and the pedals are very responsive. You have to get used to the driving position but the raised gear knob and enthusiastic engine make this a fun car to drive. It donates a few extra revs post-shift, and that takes some getting used to.
The suspension is set up for comfort and deals with suburban roads well, but slow speed jolts do reach the cabin via those wide tyres. Handling is commendable and the Mazda hangs on well until safe, predictable under-steer sets in. The six gears are well spaced but the final drive could’ve been taller to reduce revs and improve consumption.
A 60L fuel tank should give you a range of about 700km; the Five is a superb long-distance companion with its stable ride and great features. Zero to 100km/h fell in 10 seconds flat; switch off the traction control and the front rubber immediately goes up in smoke.
Mazda have produced a quirky and interesting people mover, not too bulky with plenty of seating options. It has a wonderfully lively engine, tons of clever features and highly competitive prices.
0-100m: 7.0s / 82.2km/h
0-200m: 10.7s / 104.9km/h
0-300m: 13.9s / 118.5km/h
0-400m: 16.7s / 129.0km/h
1/4mile: 16.8s @ 80.3mph (129.2km/h)
Climate Cool, overcast
Road Dry tarmac, level
Occupants Driver, no passengers
Fuel level 1/3