Mazda 5 2.0 diesel Sport Nav
By Marc Mustard
Things are going well for Mazda at the moment. Sales are up, and showrooms are bursting with exciting new cars. Now there's more good news for buyers: a diesel version of the practical new 5 people carrier, which promises to blend performance, economy and versatility.
It's the first oil-burning compact-MPV Mazda has ever offered, adding fuel economy to the 5's armoury and more besides. One of the main criticisms we had of the petrol variant was the lack of feel afforded to the driver through its speed-sensitive electric steering system. There are no such problems here, as the diesel is fitted with a hydraulic unit that is more rewarding.
Mazda was conscious that this particular motor had to be refined in order to appeal to European tastes, and engineers have done well to minimise noise, vibration and harshness levels. The 2.0-litre MZR-CD as featured in the new 6 saloon and estate isn't the most agricultural-sounding powerplant on the market to start with, but nevertheless the 5 is well insulated, making any rattle at idle virtually inaudible.
An impressive 360Nm of torque means the more powerful 141bhp diesel is a comfortable motorway cruiser. Kicking in as low down as 2,000rpm, it ensures that purposeful acceleration is possible in all six of the gears. Based on the Ford Focus platform, the 5 is very neatly proportioned. Its sweeping headlights, rakish bonnet and low roofline match Vauxhall's latest Zafira for stylish appeal.
Two sliding doors add to the car's versatility. Sensibly, these are operated manually and not electrically, which not only saves on weight but also eliminates the possibility of hugely expensive repair bills if they go wrong.
On the inside, everything is neatly laid out, if not especially inspiring. The materials used seem hard wearing, yet they suffer from the same budget feel that dogs the entire Mazda line-up. The six-plus-one seating layout continues to impress, though, thanks to its trick seventh perch that appears out of nowhere. It's certainly novel, but we're still not sure that it can quite match the Zafira's user-friendly Flex7 set-up.
The dash-mounted gearstick is conveniently located for quick changes through the six-ratio box. However, we found ourselves inadvertently turning off the air-conditioning when shift-ing gear. The Mazda 5 is a good all-rounder: impressively equipped, stylish, practical and competitively priced. Now, with the introduction of a diesel unit, the package is complete.
Mazda's 5 is a straightforward, honest MPV that does its job well. A diesel can only boost its appeal when it goes on sale this month. The oil-burner is refined and powerful, and is perfectly suited to the practical people carrier. Now the range is complete, the 5 looks set to give the likes of the Zafira a real run for its money.
At a Glance
* The 5's diesel is very quiet on start-up and offers impressive performance and nearly 45mpg. Refinement is reasonable, and the engine quiet at idle.
* Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 141bhp
* Economy: 44.9mpg
* Price: £19,550