- We like...Sliding doors
- We don't...Dark-coloured cabin
Mid-size MPV packs seven seats, slides its middle doors and is a cracker to drive‘Be careful as you open the....oh. Too late.’ If you’ve ever swung into a car park, gang of kids in the back, and winced as you hear flung open doors bang against concrete or metal, you’ll know why sliding doors at the rear are a terrific idea.
Mazda’s 5 seven-seater has them. And, amazingly we think, it’s the only little bus of its size and price to pack them rather than the usual hinged variety. For some, that’ll be enough to clinch the sale.
But if it’s not, consider this: Mazda’s owned by Ford, and so the 5 uses the engines, steering and suspension from the Ford Focus, arguably the best-riding, best-driving of any small cars costing what it ds. Mazda’s made a few adaptations to make the carry-over work, and the upshot is that the 5 is among the tidiest small MPVs we’ve driven, ranking with the C-Max.
The difference is that the C-Max seats no more than five, the Mazda will swivel and swap its chairs to accommodate four, five, six or seven. With every seat taken, there’s no luggage space left to speak of. But, with five or fewer chairs in use, the rearmost seats fold one by one to free up a big, flat load bay, served by a wide and tall rear hatch. There’s a useful tray under the floor, too.
The mid-row seats slide back and forward, tip flat and double roll. The middle of the three tumbles niftily into the base of one outer seat, while a table with a neat storage bag beneath emerges from the other. It’s very clever, and allows two passengers to lounge in real comfort. But that third centre seat is only good enough to accommodate a small adult, and then for just a short while. The rear seats, meanwhile, are broader but set low, and they are tight for leg room. And, to use either, the rear luggage blind must first come out – and there’s nowhere tidy for it to go, so it finishes up underfoot.
The 5’s just undergone the weeniest of facelifts and so looks modern, if a little anonymous. Inside, it’s got everything you’d want – air conditioning, remote locking, picnic trays, and a good stereo CD – but it’s dark and glum, and only silver-finish panels around the dash centre add brightness. And, compared to, the cabin you’d find in a Vauxhall or a Volkswagen, the plastics used across the dash and on the door inners feel hard and look low-rent. What’s more, one or two bits of it came adrift too easily.
Still, Mazda has a reputation for making cars that run reliably, and this one looks good value. The 2.0 petrol engine in ours gave all the punch you’d want, spinning quietly unless at high revs, and proving economical enough that we’d not buy the diesel unless we expected to cover more than the 12,000 miles a year that’s the average for MPV drivers.
There’s no one thing about the 5 that, for us, shouted ‘buy me’. That said, it’s sensible, practical, good to drive and well priced against its rivals. And, of course, there are those sliding doors. But then, freeing yourself from door-dinking adjacent cars when you’re parked is relief enough.
- 0-60 mph10.2sec
- Insurance groups8E
Motors.co.uk value verdict: