MAZDA5 (2010-2016)


5-door MPV [1.8, 2.0 petrol / 1.6 diesel]


* Introduction

Gone are the days when all People Carriers really had to do was to come up with clever ways to carry people. Today, in the face of competition from Crossovers, SUVs and ever more versatile family hatches, MPVs have to be a bit more exciting and aspirational, Especially if they want a slice of the medium-sized volume sector where Zafiras, Scenics, C-MAXs and Picassos hold sway. Back in 2010, this second generation Mazda5 promised to be exactly that. How does it stack up as a used buy?

* The History

We’re born, we grow up, we get married, we have kids, we buy a People Carrier. There’s sometimes a crushing predictability to the path life takes isn’t there? The MPV is seen both as great facilitator of successful family life and as the type of car that happens to people when their commitments finally nail the coffin lid shut on their desires. Not that it has to be like that of course. MPVs can be cool, stylish and fun but they just have to be a bit cleverer about it. And this second generation Mazda5 claimed to be one seven-seater that had its thinking cap on.

Though half a million examples of the original MK1 model Mazda5 were sold worldwide, it was always something of a minority choice in the UK, forgotten by a Zafira, Picasso and Scenic-buying 7-seat mini-MPV target audience constantly preoccupied by dirty nappies, first steps and forgotten PE kits. And this despite its unique provision in the mini-MPV class of the kind of useful sliding side doors that until the MK1 Mazda5’s original introduction in 2005, had been limited to much larger People Carriers. Hence the need in 2010 for a MK2 model able to keep much of what made the original work but wrap it in a package more likely to get noticed. It sold until 2016 and wasn’t replaced.

* What To Look For

Most Mazda5 buyers were came across in our ownership survey were enthusiastic about this car. Really high-mileage cars may have tired suspension components so have this checked. A full service history with evidence of regular oil changes is particularly important for the diesel engine. Otherwise, the issues we came across were relatively minor ones. Check out the infotainment system; there were reports of faulty Bluetooth connections and faulty sat nav set-ups. A lot of these issues can be solved by software updates and a larger SD card. As usual with MPVs, check the interior carefully for signs of child damage. And check the alloy wheels for signs of undue scuffing.

* On The Road

Whatever you think about Mazda’s ‘Zoom Zoom’ advertising programme, it does at least have some basis in fact. By and large, Mazda’s are better to drive than products from most rival brands, a dynamic standard that’s even more noticeable when applied to genres like MPVs that have no right to be sporty at all: as is the case here. You can’t create a sportscar out of something so big and high-sided, but you can make something surprisingly enjoyable to drive. Something that can really reward on the backroads home once you’ve dropped the kids off at school. In this class from this era, only Ford’s Grand C-MAX can rival this car in this respect.

The reasons why have to do with what Mazda calls a more ‘linear feel’ to the whole driving experience, smoothing out everything from braking to steering to suspension so that the car flows with you through the bends with much less body roll than you’d normally expect from a people carrier, thanks to a 17% increase in chassis stiffness. It also helps that refinement is excellent thanks to a 10% drop in wind noise over the old MK1 Mazda5 model, the 6-speed gearbox is slick and that, as with most MPVs, you sit a little higher up at the wheel for a more commanding view of the road ahead. That helps when parking too, as does the fact that there’s a tight turning circle, just 11.2m kerb-to-kerb.

On to engines. You’ll struggle to find an example fitted with the entry-level 115PS 1.8-litre petrol unit. More frequently sighted is the 150PS 2.0-litre variant that’s rather confusingly badged ‘DISI’ – short for ‘Direct Injection Spark Ignition’: diesel drivers need not apply. For them, there’s a 115PS 1.6-litre diesel that though frugal and flexible, isn’t especially fast, needing 13.7s to complete the rest to sixty sprint. The 2.0-litre petrol version is of course plenty more rapid, covering the same increment in 11s on the way to 120mph, but even here, the feeling is never one of exceptionally rapid progress. Torque – pulling power – is more what this car is all about, one reason why it can boast an unbraked towing limit of 600kg.

* Overall

Styling and driving dynamics should never dominate the people carrying remit, but in recent times, it’s been good to see both these things assume greater prominence in cars like this one. Sleek lines and curvy detailing certainly add an element of interest that’s often missing from the MPV class and this Mazda5 will be better to drive than you’ll expect it to be too.

Add in the versatility of the neat sliding side doors, plus build quality and practical seat design that few rivals can better and you’ve an often-ignored but very informed choice in the compact Zafira, Scenic and C-MAX-class 7-seat MPV sector from the 2010 to 2015 era. Most Mazda5 owners we know swear by them. And we can see why.