The majority of buyers will choose the only diesel engine in the line-up – a 113bhp 1.6. It’s no ball of fire, but has a decent amount of pulling power if you avoid letting the revs low drop too low. A 148bhp 2.0 petrol engine is also available, but it needs working hard for best effect and doesn’t feel particularly quick once you oblige.
The 5’s suspension is a little on the firm side, so this isn’t the smoothest-riding MPV in the world, but it does a decent job of keeping you comfortable overall. The pay-off is solid body control, which is combined with impressive grip and quick steering.
The petrol engine is rowdy and the stop-start system can take its time about restarting the car. The diesel engine only becomes noisy if you work it hard, and thanks to its flexibility, you’ll rarely have to. Road noise is reasonably well subdued, but you hear some wind noise at motorway speeds and the gearshift is notchy.
The Mazda 5 looks a tad pricey next to its more practical rivals, and Mazda dealers aren’t as generous with discounts as some. Resale values are strong on the diesel, though, which means it’s still a sound long-term investment. Both of the engines have reasonable figures for fuel consumption and CO2.
Mazda’s record on mechanical reliability is pretty impressive, so you shouldn’t have any worries on that score. The cabin has a solid feel that inspires even more confidence that the car will last well, but it’s not particularly appealing. While many rivals use classy, soft-touch plastics, the 5’s are hard, scratchy and rather dour.
Any good MPV needs to be a safe place to put your family, and every Mazda 5 comes equipped with front-, side- and curtain airbags to give you peace of mind. A stability programme and sophisticated braking system should also help you avoid trouble in the first place. On the security front, all 5s come with both an alarm and an engine immobiliser.
There’s lots of adjustment for the seat and steering wheel, so drivers shouldn’t struggle to get comfy. All-round visibility is pretty good, thanks to a high driving position, and many functions can be controlled by buttons on the steering wheel. It’s just as well, because the stereo controls on the dash are a bit confusing.
The Mazda has a decent amount of space inside, but it’s not as roomy as the best compact seven-seaters. The seating system isn’t the most versatile, either – the central seat in the middle row is too narrow, and folding the middle row down requires lifting the seat bases. At least the sliding doors give easy access in tight parking spaces, and the boot is a decent size.
The 5 is only available in one trim, called Venture. It’s fully tooled-up, providing climate control, cruise control, four powered windows, remote locking, automatic lights and wipers, a touch-screen sat-nav, Bluetooth, reversing camera and parking sensors as standard.
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