Mazda 5 1.8 TS – Road Tests – Motoring – The Independent

30 Apr 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Mazda 5 1.8 TS – Road Tests – Motoring – The Independent
Mazda 5

Mazda’s designers have copied ‘the flowing elements found in nature’. How very topical.

Not often does a new car reveal an entirely original design idea, but the Mazda 5 does. This middle-sized, seven-seater MPV has the most extraordinary wave designs pressed into its side panels, as though they are made not of sheet steel but of marble, perhaps, or plaster.

What are these waves all about, then? They are the expression of Mazda’s new “design language”, named Nagare and intended to represent the “flowing elements found in nature” (air blowing across water, wind-formed sand dunes, that sort of thing. Or, topically, snowdrifts).

This has been a theme on Mazda’s motor show cars for a while, but the Mazda 5 is the first car to bring it into the real world.

Whether sheet metal should be shaped into something visually so non-sheet-metallic is questionable. To me, it makes the car look less solid and substantial, but maybe I’ll come round to the idea. What is undeniable is that the Nagare look helps disguise the depth and bulk of the Mazda 5’s flanks.

Other obvious visual novelties are the giant front air intake, the horizontal tail-lights which wrap around the rear corners and the impression of continuous glass from side windows to rear window. Previously the rear lights formed the rear pillars and gave a simpler, cleaner look. This time it’s all about drama, flamboyance.

It’s certainly different.

A key Mazda 5 attribute has always been its middle row of seats, another has been the sliding rear doors. Neither has changed much for the new model, although the 5 has had the compliment of imitation paid to it by Ford’s new Grand C-Max.

Anyway, the seats are very clever. The centre, narrow seat can be folded out of the way to create an access corridor to the rear seats, which themselves fold flat into the floor if you need a bigger boot. You lift the cushion of the right-hand middle-row seat, and into the space beneath you flip the middle seat’s base. The middle

backrest can then be hinged out of the way for rear access, or folded down to create a table or armrest. Flipping open the cushion of the left-hand, middle-row seat reveals a storage basket which can now take up a position under the “table”. The middle-row seats also slide, recline and fold away, as you would expect.

Doors? Just the top “Sport” model gets electric power for the sliding, which is quite slow to operate but you can hurry things along by hauling the doors yourself. This is easier with the non-powered doors because you don’t have a motor to defeat. Once open, the doors stay there even when the Mazda is pointing downhill.

Sport specification also gives you bigger wheels, various bits of racy-looking bodywork addenda, leather seats (the front pair heated) and a few other trinkets, none really worth having.

In fact the entry-level TS version (there is also an intermediate TS2) is extremely well equipped for £17,695, and really has all you could reasonably need. The TS2 adds automatic wipers, automatic headlights, a few more electronic toys, and that nasty “privacy” blacked-in rear glass, which is horribly chavvy and sabotages the Nagare look by breaking up the window area.

Trouble is, the marketing people have contrived to ensure that the TS comes only with the simplest 1.8-litre, 115bhp engine, which does an adequate job but will struggle on hills when running seven-up. The new 2.0-litre, 150bhp unit is preferable and, thanks to a very alert stop-start system, it has a 159g/km CO2 figure instead of 168. There is also a 1.6-litre diesel, which I haven’t tried yet.

As for the driving, the new Mazda 5 is quieter and entirely pleasant. It steers crisply but smoothly, it responds keenly in bends while soaking up bumps, and it feels rather more agile than its size suggests. No change there, then; the Mazda 5 always was an unusually pleasing drive.

Now it’s more economical, and it looks more strange. Beauty is in the eye, and so on, but I think I preferred it the way it was.

Mazda 5

The Rivals

Citroën Grand C4 Picasso 1.6 VTR: £17,745. 120bhp, 159g/km.

Looks almost space-age with its panoramic windscreen. Comfortable seven-seater to be in, uninspiring to drive.

Ford Grand C-Max 1.6 Zetec: £18,745. 125bhp, 159g/km.

New C-Max comes in two sizes; longer, seven-seater Grand blends Mazda 5 versatility with sharper dynamics, but less space.

Toyota Verso 1.6 T2 seven-seat: £17,453. 130bhp, 153g/km.

Simple but striking styling, restful interior, lots of room. Best power and lowest CO2 of rivals here, and good value.

Mazda 5
Mazda 5
Mazda 5
Mazda 5
Mazda 5
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