Road test: Mazda5 1.6D TS2
The market for seven-seaters is a full one, so to make it's mark in this crowded area of the market, Mazda has turned on the style and maxed out on the practicality with the latest Mazda5.
So how does the latest Maxda5 compare to other new SUVs on the market, I spent a week with the £21,075 Mazda5 1.6D TS2 to find out.
The last Mazda5 was attractive, but it didn't really stand out against the opposition. Mazda is hoping that will change with this second-generation car. With the design inspired by wind and water, you'll either love or hate the 5's looks, but the Mazda is certainly unforgettable.
At the front, the Mazda5 has the latest Mazda family nose. The headlights and smiley grille look most similar to the smaller Mazda3.
The design highlight of the Mazda5 has to be the contoured sides. Designed to look like a wave which curves upwards from the front arch, across the doors to the runner for the sliding rear doors. The side indicator carries on the artistry, as according to Mazda, it's styled to look like a smooth pebble.
Move to the back and there's new horizontal rear light clusters and the angled rear screen, which gives the illusion that the Mazda5 is wider.
All round visibility is generally excellent, but for extra safety and security, rear parking sensors are standard on TS2 models.
Our test car was fitted with the only diesel engine available, a 1.6-litre, four-cylinder with 113bhp. Emissions of 138g/km and 54.3mpg fuel consumption figures are good, but not amazing.
The Mazda5's steering is responsive, making it feel more agile and sporty than its dimensions would suggest.
The The Mazda5 has plenty of grip, but despite the excellent body control, the tall stance means there's more body roll than I'd have liked in corners. The ride is good on the 16-inch alloys, but it's not as supple or as well sorted as the Ford Grand C-Max.
The cabin in general is well-built and solid, but some of the plastics feel a bit cheap and scratchy.
Still, I'm sure that the the latest 5 will uphold Mazda's reputation for reliability with tough mechanicals.
The 1.6-litre diesel engine is unremarkable and it's certainly not the most refined, as it gets noisier the harder you work it. The power of this engine is only moderate considering the Mazda's 1555kg weight.
The manual gearbox is snappy enough, but there's no finesse to the gearchange and it's less fun than it should be working the Mazda through its six gears. It's no ball of fire in the performance department either, taking 13.7 seconds to get to 60mph and the top speed is just 111mph.
There's plenty of room in the front of the Mazda5, with its comfortable, lofty driving position. Mazda claim there's room for a further five passengers in the back, but not everyone will fit in each seat and the middle seat in the second row is only really suitable for small children.
Cleverly, the second row slides back and forth to makes it very flexible and this means two adults can easily sit in the middle row and two in the third row of seats without any problems.
With all the seats in place, I struggled to get my son's buggy in the boot, as there's just 112 litres. Still, fold down one of the sets of rear seats and this increases to 426 litres.
Our test car was in the mid-range TS2 trim, which included body-coloured bumpers, front and rear electric windows, manual air-conditioning and cruise control. The only options fitted were metallic paint (£420) and carpet mats (£55).
Sat-nav is not available as an option, which is a surprise. The standard fit CD/radio system has good sound quality, nothing amazing though.
To sum up, if you're after a seven-seater that looks a bit different from the norm, has enough space to be practical, is well-equipped and should have good residual values, then you should be looking at the Mazda5. I just wouldn't recommend going for the diesel version, as it's underpowered and feels overworked in the Mazda5's body.