Does being behind the wheel of an MPV mean the death of driving as an enjoyable experience? Actually, no. We know the Ford Focus C-Max is a decent drive. And the new Mazda 5 is a dynamic revelation given that it's a six-seater (three rows of two) with space for a slender seventh if you fold out an extra seat in the middle row. Underneath it has a Focus-derived platform but suitably raised, lengthened and with sills strengthened to carry the sliding doors. The engine is related to that used in the new MX-5, but the 2-litre Mazda 5 we tried in Scotland felt keener throughout its rev range than the MX-5s sampled in Hawaii. This bodes well for the Euro MX-5 later in the year. The other curious result of the comparison of 5-badged Mazdas is that the MPV-shaped one also has more consistent, feelsome steering. Excessive road roar apart, the Mazda 5 is a surprising delight to thread along fast, sinuous roads. Its ride is supple but tightly damped, it stays focused under high cornering loads, neither leaning nor lurching nor understeering any more than a decent Focus would. An MPV with evoness indeed; who'd have thought...
|Engine||1999cc, 4-cyl, dohc, 16v|
|Max power||143bhp @ 6000rpm|
|Max torque||136lb ft @ 4500rpm|
|Top speed||122mph (claimed)|