Let’s be honest, there are far more desirable shapes to be seen in than that of the boxy dimensions which afflict all people movers. But to be fair they do serve an array of different purposes, primarily they move people, and in some cases products or even animals and in sometimes all of the above.
Families are people movers biggest target market, and considering I quite happily fall into this category, I was quite chuffed when given the keys to the Mazda 5 2.0 Individual for the week. Ok, wifey and I do only have one child, and I’d imagine families with a few more munchkins would better suit the Mazda 5’s, nevertheless Vaughn, our three year old son has many fiends and thus this would be the ultimate test for the Fives family friendly tendencies – a whole clan of the messy unruly little buggers.
I’ve always admired the Mazda 5, the previous generation at least. There isn’t a whole lot designers can do with essentially a box on wheels, but the Five was smart, stylish and even quite handsome if I may say so. Sadly, new Five has brought in Mazda’s new flowy, messy, Japanese Manga styling and quite honestly I don’t like it. The strong muscular lines of the previous generation have given way to a confused side profile and a front grille reminiscent of a feeding whale shark. Sadly, I liked the old one as much as I hate the new one.
Messy styling aside, hop inside the Five and it is genuinely a nice place to be. There is masses of interior space and the Pièce de résistance has to be the double rear sliding doors, which are electric and remote operated (standard on Indivudual spec, manual on Original and Active). Nothing wins the heart of a three year old boy like remote activated electric sliding doors, and my son revelled in being able to show his mates the Mazda “Rocket ship”. Zoom-Zoom indeed.
Rocket ship it ain’t though, power is provided by a 2.0l engine and while it does duty in the Five admirably, making town and traffic driving an ease, fully loaded the engine does suffer a bit, and great deal of gear changing is needed to make rapid progress.
Expecting speed in this type of vehicle would be foolish though and once settled and accustomed to the Fives engine, I quite enjoyed my time with the Mazda 5. Carrying a half a football team of three year olds home from school was a cinch as the Five is actually a seven seater. Two seats, perfectly matching the proportions of a three year old (and a three year old only I might add), fold effortless from the flat rear load space giving great flexibility to the cabin. The second row of seats is able to slide and tilt independently giving the third row more room if in use. With those rear seats in use though, the boot does suffer, and a few school bags had to find new homes under foot in the back. Thankfully there are plenty of nooks and hidey-holes in which to store juice bottles, dinky cars, toys etc.
Safety is paramount and those two large electrically sliding doors can be operated via switches situated next to the drivers right knee, so is the button to deactivate them, thus preventing any inquisitive hands from ‘accidentally’ opening them when not wanted. Thankfully they can’t however be opened when on the move.
The 2.0l Individual model I had the opportunity of driving is the top spec unit in the range, and features standard items such as leather upholstery, great for toddler mishaps, automatic climate control, 6 disc in-dash CD player, aux connectivity, cruise control, power windows and multi-functional steering wheel, driver and passenger arm rests and all inclusive for a very competitive R285 140.00.
At the end of the day, Dad’s may feel a little ashamed to be seen driving something like the Mazda 5, but there is no denying it’s practicality and with that in mind it gets 10/10. Of course, styling is subjective so I wouldn’t want to scare you off with my dislike of it. If you’re a busy Mom with a throng of needy children those remote rear doors will pay of tenfold, when considering the Fives direct completion like the Toyota Verso and the VW Touran make do with conventional hinged doors.
Personally though I’m a SUV convert and would opt for the seven seat Nissan Qashqai +2 which offers similar levels of practicality (sliding doors notwithstanding) but with added ‘off-road’ appeal.
- Mazda 5 2.0 litre Original R249 140.00
- Mazda 5 2.0 litre Active R265 140.00
- Mazda 5 2.0 litre Individual R285 140.00 (Tested)
Prices quoted here include a 4 year/120 000km warranty and 5 year/90 000km service plan
Thank you to Johan from Total Product Management Services and Mazda SA for the use of their test unit.