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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Some of them appear to be outdated and need to be renewed badly.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
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 By the late 2010, it became outdated and Mazda replaced it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same slightly outdated proportion, which is long, tall but narrow.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
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.