By Philip Hedderman
In the MPV market size obviously matters, but what’s in a name?
Well, pretty much everything.
It is the first thing that grabs your attention – giving you an insight (albeit the manufacturers one) into how expansive this car really is.
Take Ford for example.
Their people carriers have names like Galaxy, S-Max and C-Max – handles that paint a vivid picture of space and versatility.
Is it no wonder then that we were left scratching our heads after a wonderful experience in the Mazda5? – One of the best MPV’s on the market today.
It is the Swiss Army Knife of people carriers – there is quite literally nothing this big bus can’t do and do very well.
In fact, the only thing Mazda got wrong with the 5 is the name.
If the marketing department were hell-bent on a numerical tag then 7 would have been far more descriptive.
At least it is synonymous with its major selling point - it being a seven-seater.
That’s compounded even more by the fact that you can’t get a 5-seat version.
The good news is that is where the criticism ends.
This Mazda is a whole lot more than its various seating capabilities.
No, it’s the whole package which incorporates the drive, handling, economy and versatility of a vehicle which will work much harder than a saloon to earn its keep.
Endless trips including the horror of the school run, football training, ballet, swimming, and kids’ parties and of course, the weekly “duel” for that supermarket parking space is what this MPV is made for.
And it’s here that the Mazda gets to flag its second biggest selling point – the twin sliding side doors.
Gone are the days when 5 kids are trying to bail out at the same time – battering your rear doors and the wings of whoever was unfortunate enough to park beside you.
Not only do they slide the fill length of the chassis to accommodate the last row of seats, they do it electronically.
Yep, you don’t need arms like Popeye to release the inmates from the back; it’s all done at the flick of a switch below the steering wheel, a single pull on the handle or a button on the central locking key fob.
And when the hunter/gatherer returns with her cubs the shopping and passengers can be loaded with minimum fuss and in record time.
But the biggest benefit from a parent’s point of view is the seating arrangements and with it, the lack of squabbling.
Thanks to sliding, folding and retractable seats the ‘middle syndrome’, the cause of endless arguments and bickering is no more – unless in extreme emergencies when a pal is onboard.
You see, the designers opted for a 2+2+2 formation with a stowaway seventh seat placed in the middle of the second row giving enough room for a ‘no man’s land’ to prevent the outbreak of war.
It also means a walk-through aisle and should there be only 5 on-board the last row of pews fold flat into the boot, giving extra luggage space.
Talking of luggage, there is so much room in the rear that you could literally host the next Olympics in there.
Sporting a gargantuan 1,485 litres of space with the two sets of rear seats folded down, lugging everything including the kitchen sink shouldn’t be a problem.
Even fully loaded with passengers, there is still oceans of storage with none other than 45 different compartments and cubby holes in the cabin for all those bits and bobs.
So if space, comfort and peace are not your thing then the drive is sure to sway the undecided.
Although powered by a 1.6 litre diesel power plant, the 113bhp is more than capable of handling the extra weight associated with MPV’s and not once were we left wanting.
It cruised well on motorways and handled exceptionally on windier secondary roads.
It actually had the drive, agility and handling of a saloon practically eliminating the high centre of gravity and the lurching you’d expect from a vehicle this tall.
The biggest advantage of the 1.6 is the economy which is outstanding for a car this size.
It manages to return 54 mpg while the emissions are kept to just 139g/km which means it’s just €225 a year in road tax.
This could prove even more beneficial next year if the Government decide to revert back to the old CC-based system of car tax meaning it should only be a marginal increase.
It’s also hard to beat on price - coming in almost €3,000 cheaper than the Grand C-Max or just a couple of hundred more than the 5-seat C-Max.
So it’s 7 for the price of 5…. Not bad in this day and age!
Prices for the Mazda5 start at €25,495