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Tested: Mazda 5 mommy van

2011-05-27 07:23

STYLING DILEMMA: Mazda seems to have found a middle ground between conservative and radical with its new 5.

Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Mazda
Model 5
Engine 2.0l four cylinder
Power 106kW at 6500rpm
Torque 180Nm @ 4500rpm
Transmission six-speed manual
Zero To Hundred 10.86 seconds
Fuel Tank 60l
Fuel Consumption 8.23l/100km
Steering Power Assist Steering
ABS ABS with EBD and BA
Airbags Dual front, driver and side
Front Suspension McPherson Struts
Rear Suspension Multi-link
Service Intervals 15 000km
Service Plan Five year/90 000km
Warranty Four year/120 000km
Price R249 140


I'll be honest, there’s not much glamour attached to the MPV name. A hatchback evokes images of boy racers while SUV gives the impression of trekking through the wilderness. An MPV, however, conjures visions of middle-aged parents packing in lots of annoying kids alongside shopping bags.

While it might seem a horrid scenario (especially if you’re a single guy) what else are parents going to use as their daily commute that’s practical, easy to drive and won’t break the budget?

Fact is, a hatchback is not practical for a large family and an SUV would be nice but most are way too expensive. It’s in this middle ground that the Mazda comes into its own… it’s not quite a van, not quite a car, but has the qualities of both - just the thing if you’re in the market for a large-family mover.


Looks-wise, it’s an interesting mix of typically tame Mazda styling and some radical changes the brand seems to be trying out. It almost seems like the designers left their desks mid-way through conception then picked up again after lunch with a completely different design focus.

Only they seemed to have been torn between being conservative and radical, hence the vehicle looking like it’s two halves from different models. The front and rear show distinctive Mazda lines with tweaks made to the grille and headlights compared to its predecessor.

The profile is an interesting mix of curves and lines, all dipping and criss-crossing along the side-doors. Some might find it garish; others (like me) might find it an interesting design take. I like it, but then I’m a sucker for anything that breaks the norm in terms of design (with the exception of any SsangYong SUV (shudder).


Despite its size the Mazda5 rides and handles like a compact family car. It’s currently only available with one engine (a two-litre) but three spec levels. The engine delivers a maximum of 106kW at 6500rpm and its torque peaks at 180NNm at 4500rpm and it drives through a six-speed manual transmission and it’s not too taxing on your budget with a fuel consumption figure of 8.2 litres/100km.

RADICAL STYLING: As you can see, Mazda has some fun with the 5's sliding door design.

The engine power sneaks up on you. Just when you think you’ll be plodding along in a bulky MPV the 5 presents power that belies its size. I wondered why a mom would need this kind of urge but I suppose it will come in handy if the kids are late for school.

Driving through the six-speed manual transmission is a breeze. While this it may not be a sport van, the 5 is an MPV with a sporting character, especially with the manual transmission demanding engagement from its driver. It’s a shame this new model currently doesn’t sport an automatic - I’m sure it could only serve to boost its appeal.

Visibility is excellent throughout the interior and, despite its size, the 5 is maneouverable enough to cruise through congested city streets.

Overall, it’s a great vehicle if you’re in the market for a mom’s taxi and, despite the connotations attached, it performs marvelously well in that role. It’s as pleasing to drive as it is practical.


The interior of the Mazda5 is where it really shines with intuitive controls and all the creature comforts you could want in an MPV: multimedia sound system, remotely activated sliding doors and plenty of storage compartments. You’ll be hard-pressed to fill the huge cabin and it has a boot capable of swallowing any urban driving load.

You get the sense that the Japanese automaker’s focus was on practicality. Sure, the cabin might seem a tad bland with its generic black-on-grey colour scheme; fact is, I’d choose boring-but-practical over flashy-but-confusing any day. Of course you’ll still get odd looks in shopping-mall car parks as you show off your sliding doors. Just remember to pop the gearbox into neutral while the vehicle’s running or they’ll remain shut.

And guys, a word of caution: If you’re in a relationship and you don’t want the dreaded “marriage” bug infecting your partner, don’t get an MPV. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with the 5, it’s just that it’s so darn good at being a mommy van that everything you do will just seem paternal in her eyes... not to mention the imaginary kids and a Labrador that she’ll start picturing in the cabin!


It’s still rather bizarre in the looks department and hasn’t hopped on the sporty crossover bandwagon as has its Peugeot 5008 competitor. Under-rated and often overlooked, the Mazda5 may not be a looker but it fulfils its role as a family mover without a hitch and it’s pricing and ride make it a worthwhile choice.


Mazda 5 2.0l Original R249 140


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