Long Term Test Report: Mazda5 1.6 Sport Diesel
The open road beckons for a year of capable motoring in Mazda’s new 5. All that Simon Hacker needs to do now is dream up the perfect soundtrack…
Way before parenthood allotted me grey hair and eyes like strained teabags, I worked as a car critic for the Guardian. Along with the drudgery of first class travel to mundane places like Hollywood and Tokyo, the job entailed chewing through a heavy and sometimes genuinely uninspiring diet of weekly road tests. So one day, I suggested an idea that might brighten up the format. I’m pleased to note it survives to this day and, indeed, has been picked up by a lot of auto media. Even the Stig copied it, sort of. It’s hardly a clever idea: all you have to do is find the one piece of music you’d shove onto the car stereo that would best encapsulate the very essence of the model in question.
So the arrival of this dream machine (if your dreams are of zoom-zoomish transport for up to seven, that is) begs an obvious question: what song suits it most? Actually, given the 12-month test we’re embarking on, I think it might be better to conceive an album; a kind of automotive desert island discs.
First up, 2011: A Space Odyssey would be a hot contender for this car’s headline, so we’ll kick off with Kubrick’s skin-prickling fanfare, aka Strauss’ Also Sprach Zarathustra. Every time I approach the Mazda5 and blip the remote to open the power sliding side door, those brass tones and the huge drum beat seem strangely absent from the process. This isn’t a car the family gets into, it’s a docking station for human integration. You half expect to walk round the other side and find the NASA logo plastered across it. Those finely fettled sculptural lines along the side of the 5 only serve to emphasise this otherworldliness. As Sue Baker succinctly put it when she drove one of these, this is a car that marks the end of the road for cumbersome windowed vans with the aerodynamics of house bricks. The Mazda5 is no mere MPV; it’s an earth-bound space module. Especially in interstellar white.
Space continues as a theme long after you’ve strapped in your toddlers and secured their air supply (an optional extra). I think at this point, as I contemplate the fact that were all rear seats folded down, two of me could have a good night’s kip, and while our three children can co-exist in the middle row without elbow skirmishes, we might now allow ourselves a few bars of Alexander Courage’s immortal opening score, the theme from Star Trek.
Now ensconced, most Dave-watching male drivers might toggle the remote stereo switch on the steering to select Fleetwood Mac’s The Chain. Hmm, I don’t want to drag the needle of expectation too violently from that particular groove of anticipation, but this Mazda, with this engine, is not going to get you into trouble for scorching tarmac or frightening lollipop ladies. In fact, with 62mph not being dispatched until 13.7 seconds of your life have elapsed, you’ll soon realise that rock music, be it hard or soft, is not really the 5’s natural ground. Instead, might I suggest a number that reflects the gliding, motorway-devouring nature of the beast such as, perhaps, the title track of Neil Young’s Harvest Moon – a lilting, lullaby rhythm that entreats you to ease off, relax and enjoy the whole getting there thing. My youngest certainly already does – half a mile in the 5 and he’s sparko.
For the sake of variety, this is where I’ll throw in Liza Doolittle’s Wouldn’t it Be Loverly? from My Fair Lady, as I contemplate the right-royal list of cor-blimey extras the 5 Sport delivers as standard. Leather seats, heated in the front, those fancy power doors in the back, eye (and hopefully not kerb) catching 17-inch alloys, his ’n hers climate control, wipers that know when it’s raining and, whateva next, ’eadlamps that know when it’s dark, an all.
Self-relocating seat belt sockets make the task of adjusting the rear seats for loading a piece of cake, though as yet I haven’t found a piece of music that describes this aspect. Except Bonnie Tyler’s Holding Out for a Hero, perhaps, but that’s a bit of a stretch.
A mostly melodious start so far then for the Mazda5, though at under 2,000 miles, The Road is Long, perhaps even The Long and Winding Road, albeit not likely, as impressions appear, to call for assistance from Chris Rea. As a certain Ms Carpenter once said, We’ve Only Just Begun.
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:||1,200kg|
|Fuel consumption:||54.3mpg (official combined)
45.4mpg (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:||1,602miles|
|Costs to date:||None|
|Faults to date:||None|