The era of the wagon and the minivan came upon us despite the fact that many vehicles aren’t particularly practical for families. However, for numerous reasons, many people can’t really picture themselves in a minivan anymore – and they’re precisely who the Mazda5 is targeting. In fact, the Mazda5 is a vehicle that can be described as the love child of a minivan, a wagon and a compact car. It combines the best of all of these vehicles without a lot of compromise.
Few changes were made to the Mazda5 for 2009. It still comes in two versions, the GS and the GT, each of which features the same four-cylinder 2.3-litre engine with 153 hp at 6,500 rpm for 148 lbs-ft of torque at 4,500 rpm. There is a factory standard five-speed manual transmission or an optional five-speed automatic which benefited an extra gear for 2009..
Mazda describes it as a multi-activity vehicle, but it could in fact be called a “mini” minivan. This type of car is highly sought after in Europe, where space and the price of gas are the most important determining consumer choices. Here at home, it helps meet the needs of the family in a practical and elegant format. Furthermore, it has few direct competitors: the Kia Rondo, is probably its nearest rival.
The Mazda5 features a modern exterior style with the manufacturer’s typical sporty lines. Moreover, it uses the Mazda3 platform, proving that a more family-oriented vehicle can be stylized and easy on the eyes. The high-end GT version is easily recognizable from the outside with its front-end fog lights as well as its 17-inch rims (16 for the GS model). Furthermore, the side sill extensions mimic aerodynamics package styling and give the car a sportier feel, and white LED taillights and a rear spoiler on the GT model are the finishing touches.
Inside, the Mazda5 has space for six people thanks its four rear bucket seats in two rows. That means it can comfortably seat one more passenger than the Mazda6. A variety of combinations are possible with these seats, which will help meet the various transport and loading needs in addition to being roomier when certain seats are not in use.
Besides the higher driving position, the only aspect that resembles a minivan is the sliding side doors, a feature that turns out to be very practical when you’re crammed into a parking spot. Plus they simply make it easier to get in and out of the vehicle. The third bench will be a lot more suitable for children than for adults, but the same can be said for most of the vehicles in this category. The central part of the dashboard includes the climate and sound system controls in an easy to understand and, most of all, ergonomic layout.
On the road
The first thing we noticed on board the Mazda5 is that its more compact size makes it practical and fun to handle. Its plunging hood line and higher driver’s seat make for good vision. The engineers were also able to keep it fun to drive. Its precise steering, the rigidity of the chassis and the car’s general dynamics will make you think you’re behind the wheel of a Mazda3. However, its higher centre of gravity, particularly noticeable in turns, will quickly remind you that it’s a family vehicle.
You might think that the 153 horses wouldn’t be up to the task, but power was never an issue for us. Okay, it isn’t a sports car and you definitely have to change gears more often to take advantage of the available power, but this engine is suitable for most daily needs. The factory standard five-speed manual gearbox turns out to be very pleasant and it helps you feel more in control. Many will turn to the automatic transmission and this isn’t a bad choice anymore, especially since the addition of an extra gear.
Basically, the Mazda5’s popularity is understandable. It offers the best of many worlds, in a relatively affordable format.