Mazda 5 / Premacy

Debut: 2010
Maker: Mazda
Predecessor: Mazda 5 / Premacy (2005)

 Published on 22 May 2014
All rights reserved. 

Remark: the recent Volkswagen Golf SV triggers a review of my compact MPV writings. Some of them appear to be outdated and need to be renewed badly. This Mazda 5 is one of them.

Sometimes I wonder what should be called “new”, “all-new” or “new generation”. Car makers tend to misuse these descriptions a lot to attract public interests. A Porsche 991 is certainly new, but its predecessor 997 wasn’t. Harder to distinguish is the evolution from Volkswagen Golf V to VI or from the first Infiniti G35 to Q50, because while they retained the key configuration and hard points, plenty of critical components were improved. The current Mazda 5 (Premacy) belongs to the latter camp.

The original Mazda 5, or Premacy Mk2, was introduced in 2005. It caught our attention with a flexible 6+1 seating and better than average driving dynamics. By the late 2010, it became outdated and Mazda replaced it with a so-called second generation. Well, it is not exactly a new generation but a heavily modified version. Both the exterior and interior are thoroughly revamped. The former gets more stylish, thanks to a prominent front grille, clamshell bonnet and pronounced wheel arches. The taillights are moved from the D-pillars to horizontal positions beneath the rear window. Most interesting are the multiple wave-shape crease lines pressed onto the body sides. They were inspired by the 2006 Nagare concept car. Sadly, Mazda had abandoned the idea since then, thus the Mazda 5 became the only production car benefited from the Nagare theme.

The chassis is carried over from the existing car thus it retains the same slightly outdated proportion, which is long, tall but narrow. A problem of the old car was excessive body roll during cornering. The new car has this rectified by using stiffer springs, dampers and suspension bushings. This also sharpens the response of the electro-hydraulic steering, which is surprisingly feelsome for an MPV. The Mazda does not ride as supple as the best European rivals, but its handling is better than most, if not as precise as Ford C-Max or Peugeot 5008.

Performance is less competitive. In the attempt to boost fuel economy and simplify production, the outgoing MZR 2.3-liter engine with 165 hp and 2.0 turbo diesel with 143 hp had been dropped from the lineup, leaving only the 115 hp 1.8-liter and 150 hp 2.0-liter MZR petrol and 115 hp 1.6 turbo diesel to soldier on. The 2.0-liter gets DISI direct injection but even so its torque delivery is no match with the small turbocharged motors of its European rivals. The PSA-sourced small diesel engine feels underpowered for the job, no wonder it protests loudly on motorway. Refinement is also hampered by the lack of sound insulation, as you can hear high level of wind and road roar. This means, the new car doesn't feel as sophisticated as its looks suggested.

Like the exterior, the interior is completely revamped. The new dashboard looks fresher and better built, although it is still made of hard plastics. There are too many buttons to shine in ergonomics, but this should be considered as normal in 2010. The new car has the 6+1 seating arrangement retained but seat comfort is improved with thicker cushions. Though it remains narrow, flat and hard, the middle seat at the second row is made more acceptable with longer cushion and backrest. As before, it can be stowed away in the space beneath the adjacent seat. The opposite seat can release a table with cup holders and storage box. All seats are flexible. The second and third row can be folded flat to place luggage, or the first and second row’s backrests may recline to form a large double bed. The second row can slide longitudinally for a range of 27 cm to alter legroom or luggage space. Nevertheless, no matter how you adjust, the two rearmost seats remain difficult to accommodate adults. Neither can the second row passengers enjoy vast of legroom like other MPVs. Moreover, it is virtually impossible to fit 3 adults there. For a 7-seat MPV, this place is a bit too cramped.

Admittedly, a review written so long after its debut might be too harsh. Wind back 3 and a half years ago and it might sound more impressive. Anyway, the competition is moving forward quickly thus Mazda should not rely on an old platform for too long. Considering how good the current Mazda 3 and 6 are, the next generation 5 should be promising. Hopefully it will be truly a new generation.

Length / width / height
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0-100 mph (sec)
Mazda 5 2.0 DISI
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4585 / 1750 / 1615 mm
2750 mm
1999 cc
DOHC 16 valves, VVT
150 hp
141 lbft
6-speed manual
F: strut
R: multi-link
1485 kg
120 mph (c)
10.3 (c)

Performance tested by: -

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