Car Lust: Mazda 5

13 Aug 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on Car Lust: Mazda 5
Mazda 5

Mazda 5

Submitted by Cookie the Dog’s Owner

During the last football season, Peyton Manning appeared in a series of Priceless Pep Talk commercials for a major credit card company. In one of them, he attempts to console a viewer who is bummed about driving a minivan. Is it at least like a sport-turbocharged minivan or something? he asks plaintively, before recommending flames or a cool decal as a cure for the minivan blues.

If Peyton had been pitching Mazdas instead of credit cards, he might have recommended a Mazda 5 instead. The Mazda 5 looks more or less like every other minivan, but when you park it next to the likes of an Honda Odyssey or Dodge Grand Caravan, you notice that it’s a lot smaller. Mazda calls it a small crossover, though it lacks all-wheel drive.

It’s a Mazda, so of course the build quality is excellent, and it’s as reliable as modern engineering can make it. It has a decent sound system and power windows and all the other little electromechanical conveniences you expect in a modern vehicle.

The Mazda 5 is also immensely practical. The sliding rear doors allow easy access. The second- and third-row seats fold flat to create a large cargo area when one is needed.

The second-row bucket seats are comfortable even for large adults. The third-row hobbit seats are suitable for occupants in the twelve-and-under demographic on long trips; for adults, only on short hops. In its normal configuration, with the third row folded down, the Mazda 5 can carry a couple weeks’ worth of groceries, or two or three Boy Scouts’ worth of camping gear.

In other words, it’s a minivan. Basic transportation. But while it isn’t quite turbocharged, the Mazda 5 is a cure for the minivan blues.

The Mazda 5 is built on a slightly stretched (by about five inches) Mazda 3 platform. It uses the same DOHC 2.3L inline four-cylinder engine. It has the same base suspension as its more conventional cousin, the same disc brakes, the same steering gear.

It is available with either a 5-speed manual transmission or a 4-speed shiftable slushbox.

Mazda 5

The Mazda 3 is one of the more lively and entertaining cars in its class, and most of that entertainment value is found in the Mazda 5. Even with the automatic transmission, the acceleration is sprightly; not enough to win stoplight drag races, but more than adequate for merging into freeway traffic. Steering is precise, with excellent road feel. On a twisty back road, it can actually be driven rather aggressively–enough so that, for a while, you almost forget it’s a minivan.

That’s what I like about it.

Since the Mazda 5 and the Mazda 3 share the same chassis architecture, it should be possible to take the performance parts from the Mazdaspeed 3, or aftermarket upgrades for the base Mazda 3, and build a Mazda 5 into the sport-turbocharged minivan of Peyton Manning’s dreams.

The Mazda 5 in the picture was my wife’s birthday present last summer, which explains the balloon floating above the rear hatch. She has no plans to do any performance modifications.

–Cookie the Dog’s Owner

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Mazda 5
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