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What Car? says

3 out of 5 stars

For It seats seven, is reasonably well equipped and has sliding side doors

Against It has limited safety equipment, the handling is poor and the styling is bland

Verdict It's spacious, but you can get better all-rounders for the same sort of money

Go for… The diesel is easily the better engine - there's only one trim

Avoid… The breathless petrol, despite the fact it gets traction control

Mazda MPV MPV
  • 1. Twin sliding rear doors make it particularly easy to get in and out when parked alongside another car
  • 2. It's worth checking that recall work on front foglights in 2003 has been carried out
  • 3. You get twin front and side airbags, but no rear or curtain 'bags
  • 4. The rear seats can be removed to leave a van-like load area, but they're heavy
  • 5. Go for the turbodiesel - it's strong, refined and easily the best choice
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Mazda MPV MPV full review with expert trade views

The MPV is pretty conventional, with seven seats spread over three rows, but its twin sliding rear doors make it particularly easy to get in and out of the middle row when parked alongside another car.

Access to the third row isn't as good, because the middle seats don't slide forward far enough. The cabin design is also dreary, and although the rear seats can be removed to leave a van-like load area, they're heavy.

Still, there's plenty of space for seven and all of the major controls are logically grouped on the dash. The driver's seat could do with more support, but it's easy to adjust and gives you a commanding view of the road.

However, the steering is lifeless and there's quite a lot of body roll. Minimal wind and road noise help to make it relaxing over long distances, but the suspension isn't as comfortable as it should be, particularly at low speeds.

Trade view

John Owen

Not as practical as a Galaxy, cheaper though!

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford

The MPV was originally offered with just one engine - a 120bhp 2.0-litre petrol. This was replaced with a 139bhp 2.3-litre unit in May 2002, and a 134bhp 2.0-litre turbodiesel joined the range at the same time.

The diesel is undoubtedly the pick of the bunch, because it's refined and strong. By contrast, the petrols need to be worked hard to encourage any useful effort out of them, and they get wheezy when they are.

Unusually, the MPV isn't offered with a choice of trims, so all models come with an electric sunroof, alloy wheels and a CD player. Air-con with separate front and rear controls is also fitted.

On the safety front, you get twin front and side airbags, but there are no rear or curtain airbags. Petrol models have traction control to reduce wheelspin in slippery conditions, but diesels miss out on this useful feature, but compensate by having larger alloys instead.

The MPV received a face-lift in November 2003, with a restyled headlights and an enlarged front grille.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Few in the market and 2.0D remains easiest to sell

James Ruppert
Used car guru

The MPV sold poorly in the UK, so you might struggle to find a used example. On the up side, this limited demand means that you can pick up the few that are available at competitive prices.

Once you've bought your MPV, it shouldn't cost you much to maintain. Parts are relatively cheap, and official Mazda dealers have some of the quickest repair times around as well as excellent hourly rates. You may save a few pounds by getting the car serviced at an independent Mazda specialist, but it's unlikely to be much more than that.

All models fall into insurance group 11, which also helps to keep things affordable, but fuel economy is nothing special. The 2.0-litre petrol returns 28.0mpg on the combined cycle, the 2.3 petrol 30.0mpg and the diesel 39.8mpg.

Trade view

John Owen

Not as practical as a Galaxy, cheaper though!

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford

Information on the MPV is limited because it sold in such small numbers, but it's still encouraging that no major problems have been reported. In addition, Mazda has consistently finished at or near the top of our reliability surveys.

Any minor concerns? Well, a recall was issued in 2003 because there was a chance the front foglights could become detached from their mountings and burn a hole in the bumper. It's worth checking that this work has been carried out.

Cars produced between March and October 2003 also needed a potential problem with the water pump fixed, while concerns that a seal on the cylinder head could fail and cause heavy oil consumption saw cars built between August and November 2003 recalled.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Few in the market and 2.0D remains easiest to sell

James Ruppert
Used car guru
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