Cooler than a minivan but just as versatile
The nifty little Mazda5 bridges the gap between a small station wagon and a minivan. Based on the Mazda3 Sport, it shares the entire powertrain. The Mazda5 is only 70 mm longer than the Mazda3, or 135 mm shorter than the Mazda6. But it is 165 mm and 190 mm taller respectively than either.
The body format allows for a spacious and cleverly executed interior.
The middle row is made up of two separate seats, each offering sliding and tilt adjustments. They can fold flat if needed to allow for extra cargo space, or the cushions can be lifted to access a handy storage compartment.
Access to these middle seats is facilitated by two very light sliding doors.
Up front, the driver gets a good driving position and the large windshield provides great visibility. Numerous cubbyholes and other storage solutions make it to easy find a spot for anything that must be brought along.
The third row is less enjoyable. But then, it is intended for occasional use, not regular duty. Cargo space is limited when this row is in use, but very generous and equal or superior to a full-size wagon’s offering when down.
The Mazda5 comes in GS and GT configurations. Either offers the same multi-adjustable seating and lightweight sliding rear doors.
The base $19,995 GS offers 4-wheel disc brakes with ABS and EBD, tilt and telescopic steering wheel, cold weather package, power windows, locks and mirrors, and theft deterrent engine immobilizer.
The $22,895 GT adds 17-inch alloy wheels, side and curtain air bags, six-speaker stereo, cruise, heated mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, power moon roof, fog lights, leather steering wheel, fold-out table/cargo bin in the centre row, and rear roof spoiler. Either model can be equipped with air conditioning for $1,100 and $1,000 respectively.
A fully equipped Mazda5 GT, with steering-wheel radio controls, AC and a few other amenities should stay just under the $25,000 mark — good value for the money.
Driving is another forte. Handling is a little on the sporty side and the 4-cylinder engine allows for swift driving when wanted. The steering lets the driver know what the front wheels are doing and where they are going.
The 2.3-litre, 4-cylinder engine is good for 153 horsepower. This unit has 16-valves, double overhead camshafts and is all-aluminum for light weight. The latter helps handling by minimizing weight over the front axle.
A 5-speed manual transmission is standard and the short-shift pattern has a very nice feel. Optional is a
The only complaint handling-wise, a minor one, was a slight sensitivity to side winds, of course a direct effect of the high roofline.
All in all, this Mazda5 offers a fine alternative for young families. Enough space for two kids, and their occasional friends when needed, plus enough space for any family activity that should arise. And all of this while offering a touch of driving pleasure at a price that a young family can actually consider.
2007 Mazda5 GT