The mid-sized MPV sector has been hugely competitive ever since Renault designed the Scenic more than a decade ago. Now, there are all sorts of mid-sized MPVs to suit many budgets and needs.
Among the seven-seater models these days, the popular ones are the grey imported Toyota Wish and the Honda Stream. Besides this pair, there are of course others to choose from, like the officially imported Toyota Picnic, Nissan Lafesta and last but not least, the Mazda 5.
The Mazda 5 has just been through a facelift to keep it fit in the fight with the Wish and Stream.
Less than three years after it was introduced, the Mazda 5 gets its mid-life makeover. Externally, the changes are highly limited – which is no bad thing as we deem the Mazda 5 to have very well proportioned and purposeful looks for a people carrier. As with most facelifts, the most obvious changes to the exterior are at the front – it sports a new radiator grille and a sportier bumper with more aggressive air intakes. At the same time, the latter does give it a more purposeful and aggressive face and stance.
Changes elsewhere include new alloy wheel design and tail lamps with LED bulbs which looks highly distinctive when lit.
Most importantly, there are more changes under the hood too. The engine is largely similar as before but it now incorporates SVT (Sequential Valve Timing) to produce more power than in the previous model. Maximum output is now rated at 145bhp @ 6500rpm, with maximum torque quoted at 182Nm. The engine is pretty tractable at low to mid revs, which is an essential feature for a people carrier.
The Mazda 5 engine is hooked up to an automatic gearbox, now with five forward ratios instead of four in the older model. The new Mazda 5 transmission offers smooth and incise shifts, and is responsive to the driver’s throttle inputs too. Addition of a fifth ratio helps performance in the lower gears, while at the same time improving refinement and efficiency at cruising speeds. It also offers a “+/-“ manual selection mode for the keen and spirited driver.
Keeping up with Mazda’s “Zoom-Zoom” product philosophy, handling is remarkably competent for an MPV with such a tall and upright stance. The Mazda 5 steering is remarkable in terms of feel and feedback, and it responds rather quickly and diligently to the driver’s inputs as well. Body control is really good, and it hardly leans into corners despite its height. The ride is also comfortable, with the suspension having the outright ability to soak up bumps and humps with aplomb. Obviously, Mazda’s chassis engineers has got it right with the suspension settings with the 5 this time, offering just the right blend of handling and ride comfort.
Inside, there are some minor improvements in the new model. Rear passengers will welcome the addition of air-con vents, and the best part is that they can even adjust the fan speed at the rear as well. Driving environment is basically unchanged bar a new stereo head unit that looks less cluttered and incorporates an in-dash CD changer. There’s still that highly adjustable driving position and the view from the driver’s seat is just excellent.
Headroom all around is also excellent, thanks to the Mazda 5’s high roof, with an electric sunroof on our local cars adding to the feeling of airiness and spaciousness within the cabin. Unlike some of its Japanese rivals, the Mazda 5’s cabin is well crafted and made from reasonable quality materials and switchgear.
The Mazda 5 features what Mazda calls a 6+1 seating configuration. The “+1” basically refers to the foldable bench that is in the centre of the second row – it can easily be stowed aside to allow walk-through access through the second row to the rear. The centre row seats can also slide fore and aft to adjust legroom as required for either row. With the centre row positioned slightly forward, there’s actually decent legroom in the third row despite the 5’s relatively compact dimensions. Access to the third row is a breeze as well thanks to the low floor and the wide opening sliding doors.
The sliding doors now get full electrical operation on both sides and can be operated either by the master button on the dash or via the key fob – a hugely practical feature for such a car. The 5, being an MPV, offers flexibility in the form of easily foldable seats to convert it into a load carrier if required.
Coming at OTR RM153,xxx with insurance and FREE Service for 3 years (60,000km), the Mazda 5 offers reasonable value. In addition, the Mazda 5’s list of standard kit includes the two electric sliding doors, electric sunroof, 16-inch alloy wheels, electric folding mirrors, climate control, factory fitted stereo with MP3 capability and additional controls on the steering wheel, ABS with EBD and not forgetting twin front airbags.
The Mazda 5 is hardly the best performer in the mid-sized MPV class, and its failing is the slightly unrefined engine when worked hard upon. But then again this is an MPV we’re talking about, rather than a luxury executive saloon.
As an MPV, the Mazda 5 has all the ticks in the right boxes, especially those labeled “space” and “practicality” thanks to its thoughtful features and design.
- Mazda 5 MPV 2.0L
- 2 x Power Door
- 2nd Row Air-Con Blower
- New Facelift
- CBU Japan
- Pre-owned car RM 143,xxx !!!
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