MAV (Multi-Activity Vehicle) segment was created by Renault Scenic in
1997, it has been growing rapidly in both Europe and Japan, accounting
for millions of sales per year. Almost all European and Japanese
manufacturers joined the battlefield. Initially, the market seemed
satisfied with 5-seat MAVs, but then 6 or 7-seaters are gradually
taking over because they offer higher flexibility - yes, some surveys
found 90% of time you don't need more than 5 seats, but why do you have
to suffer in the remaining 10% occasions?
Ford launched its 5-seat C-Max, it argued that extra seats would add
size and weight, deteriorate agility yet the extra passenger room is
usually compromised. Ridiculously, now its daughter company Mazda is
counter-proving this argument by introducing a 6+1 MAV, the Mazda 5 (or
Premacy in Japan).
5 is derived from the Mazda 3 platform, therefore it is a close sister
to Ford Focus C-Max as well. With a stretched wheelbase (at 2750mm,
110mm longer than C-Max), it can accommodate 3 rows of two seats. Each
of them is spacious enough for adults, unlike many other 6 or 7-seat
MAVs whose third row can accommodate only children. However, the most
ingenious is the second row. They are independent chairs with an
armrest between them. If you flip up the armrest and unfold a cushion
from under the left seat, an additional child seat will be created.
That's why Mazda call it "6+1". Now your son can invite his little
girlfriend to go picnic together with your whole family.
That's not all however. If you store back the center cushion and rotate
the center seatback about Z axis by 90 degrees, a walk-through channel
will be created. Children always cry for switching chairs. Now you can
keep driving while let them fight for their favourite seat !
Children always bring their toys on board and make the cabin upside
down. It's time to clean things up... raise the right seat cushion,
flip out a storage box and it rests neatly between the two seats. Open
the lid of the strange box, take out a can of drink and put it at the
attached cup-holder. Pack all the toy bits into the storage box... oh !
Your long lost sock is there ! Those naughty boys !
The middle row seats can slide north-south for 270mm, so the
distribution of legroom between the second and third row can be varied
according to needs. Sometimes you want to spend a weekend with your
wife only - especially in those special days - then you can slide the
second row to the rearmost position, recline all seatbacks and, wow~~
here is a double bed ! Have a romantic night ! Well, I mean watching
What about cargo carrying
ability? Mazda 5 is also very capable. The last row of seat can fold
down flatly onto the luggage floor. In this way, it provides 426 litres
of cargo volume. Fold the second row seat and it becomes 857 litres.
Moreover, the tailgate is large, cut low into the bumper and open high
towards the sky. Therefore access to the luggage area is very
same goes for the twin-sliding rear doors. Although they are manually
operated, they enable a large opening for easy access to the cabin.
Even in very tight parking space, they can open without blocking by the
In terms of visual quality, the interior of Mazda 5 is just average.
Most places are covered with hard plastic, while the black-sliver color
scheme is ice-cool rather than inviting. I suppose a family vehicle
should look brighter and warmer.
if you are pursuing a MPV that is practical and fun to drive
simultaneously, this is it. The Mazda 5 is one of the few MAVs that
feel balanced, nimble and fun to drive. It is not as stiffly sprung as
Ford C-Max yet has a taller body, hence carry more body roll into
corners, but its MacPherson strut and multi-link suspensions make it a
well-damped and tidy handler. Its steering is also more communicative
than most rivals, especially if you pick the diesel engines which come
with conventional hydraulic power steering instead of the petrol
engines' electro-hydraulic assistance. Overall, the Mazda 5 drives like
a longer, softer version of the C-Max. This is hardly a surprise
considering their common platform.
Weighing 1.5 ton, the Mazda 5 needs some good engines. This is easily
fulfilled by taking the company's MZR-family all-aluminum four-cylinder
engines – 115hp 1.8, 145hp 2.0 and 165hp 2.3. All are eager performers.
For European market, the 2.3-litre petrol is replaced by a pair of
2-litre common-rail diesel engines. In different state of tune they
deliver 110hp / 229 lbft and 143hp / 265lbft respectively. The top
diesel is especially torquey and refined, plus it mates with a crisp
6-speed gearbox. No wonder this is the pick of the bunch.