Mazda 5 driven - What’s it like to drive?

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  • Updated version of Mazda's compact MPV
  • Looks smart and handles well
  • Many rivals have cleverer seats
Just two petrol engines will be available at launch, a 113bhp 1.8 and a 148bhp 2.0 with direct injection. We reckon you’re better off with the 1.8 – it’s cheaper to buy, feels perkier at low revs, and ultimately, it doesn’t feel that much slower than the 2.0. A 113bhp 1.6 turbodiesel is due to join the range in February 2011.

Both the petrol engines stay smooth and reasonably quiet most of the time, and road noise is well subdued, even on the motorway. However, you do hear some wind noise at the front and down the sides of the car at 70mph, so it’s not the quietest motorway car in the class.

The gearshift is notchy and a little imprecise, too, and while the engine stop-start system fitted to 2.0-litre models works smoothly, it can take its time restarting the car.

The 5’s suspension will divide opinion according to whether you want a sporty MPV or a comfortable one. It’s decidedly firm, and that means strong body control in bends. The amount of grip you get is impressive, too, and the quick steering also helps the car turn crisply into bends. However, the steering could do with more consistent weighting, and there’s barely any feel.

The downside of that firm suspension, though, is the ride quality. It can feel decidedly lumpy, even when the road surface isn’t particularly scruffy. When you’ve got your car loaded up with the family, that’s not ideal.

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Mazda 5 driven - Should I buy one?

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