Long term test report: Mazda5 1.6 Sport Diesel
With fewer remaining spare seats in his Mazda5, Simon Hacker contemplates growing challenges to stress-free family mobility.
We’ve more than doubled the mileage on this motor since the last full report, so there are obviously many things to report. Strangely though, I have to confess, I can barely relate a detail, so apologies in advance if what brought you to this page was a quest for a professional level of car analysis.
The main reason for my amateurism is that at least 15 of those miles were spent on a red-eyed, small-hours drive to Stroud’s maternity hospital, a scenario in which you hope you’re not going to end up removing the embedded head of an errant badger from the steaming radiator while your stricken wife, waters broken from the impact, claws at the headlining in the final throes of delivery.
All sorts of portals of possibility are opened by having your children born in odd places. I gather Waitrose will give you free nappies for life (or infancy at least), while Tesco probably tags your newborn with a clubcard. They say Lidl lets you have a thirty-second trolley dash (in which case I’d suggest a beeline for their excellent smoked salmon). As for Mazda though, I’d guess they wouldn’t quite rush to issue a press release on how well the heated leather upholstery coped with an invasion of paramedics and hot water. In the event, there was no need: we got there safely and soundly with the contractions remaining on the safe side of 10 minutes.
My next drive, some five hours later, was tougher. After all, my wife might have had to produce a new human, but I was the martyr who hung onto the side of the birthing pool for the night, making reassuring noises, and all without even a snort of gas and air. And when mother and daughter retired to a sweet morning of rest and recuperation, what awaited me was a sleep-deprived drive in the 5, back to a long overdue bed. I know a more attentive and professional reporter could at this point relate how easy the 5 is to drive, how it runs on autopilot to get you home and offers nothing aggravating to the over-stretched nerves. Truth is, I can’t remember. It must have been a very comfy journey because I had to work hard to stay awake. I even listened to commercial radio because I knew the irritating ads would banish weightiness of the eyelids.
Since then, a bomb has exploded. The crucial equation for parenthood is that two very young children do not equate as child + child = 2, but as child X child = 22. The cumulative duties of care expand exponentially, with the result that your own existence is squeezed into a physically and temporally smaller space. You become a shrunken version of yourself. Such words won’t be found in Mothercare brochures, let alone uttered in dinner-party conversations of wistful friends who talk of the “magic” of parenthood, but they are true. And only when you have embraced them can you move on to know the joy that may lie beyond. Apparently.
The child X child phenomenon is illustrated in all its wonderful, gory glory inside our Mazda5. Truth is, it’s now become no more than a mobile kindergarten. Jude, 10, is tail-end gunner in the third row; the increasingly car-obsessed Rupert, 18 months, is bobbing his head to anything the stereo plays from his forward-facing Britax; Hope, 12, is up front, with her mother, while Jemima, four weeks, is sublimely ensconced in her rear-facing bucket seat, just out of reach from the maniacal pre-toddler.
And me? Thanks, but I’m back home, with some important business to attend to, writing this. The pictures I submitted of the interior of this machine, I confess, were taken before Jemima’s arrival; now that she’s here and the chaos multiplies, I’m browsing the pages of eBay in search of an industrial-strength car cleaning kit. Thankfully, we are not talking nappy malfunction or projectile vomit, but Rupert has the in-car dining finesse of an angry octopus. To you, a breadstick is a social snack; to him, it’s a light sabre to be enjoyed and destroyed. It all makes the Hadron Collider look a bit wimpy.
Amid all this, is there anything we’d change about this car? Certainly not the sliding doors – most supermarket car parks offer 197 parking spaces for the disabled (most of which are empty) and six, maybe seven, for the child-laden, which are always full. So you have to squeeze into the shoebox size slot they provide for the remainder of their valued customers and wrestle with the doors and buckles while cursing the fact that you have 117 bags for life at home but none with you. Sliding doors make this repeating loop of misery less of a grunt. Beyond that, I’d probably change one other, small thing: the engine.
But for the reasons above, I’ve run out of time and space as to why. Return next month and I’ll explain all.
Mazda5 1.6 Sport Diesel
|Price when new:||£21,955|
|Price as tested (including options):||£22,375|
|Optional extras:||Pearlescent paint|
|Engine:||1560cc, 4-cylinder, turbodiesel|
|Power output:||113bhp at 3,600rpm|
|Maximum torque:||199lb ft at 1,750rpm|
|Maximum towing weight:||1,350kg|
|Fuel consumption:||54.3mpg (official combined)39.6mpg (on test)|
|CO2 emissions (Taxband):||138g/gm (E)|
|Benefit in kind tax liability:||20%|
|Size (Length/width with mirrors):||4,585/1,988mm|
|Boot space (Minimum/maximum):||158/892/1,485litres|
|EuroNCAP safety rating:||5 stars|
|Date arrived:||5th May 2011|
|Mileage to date:||3,450miles|
|Costs to date:||None|
|Faults to date:||None|