2006 Mazda5 – First Drive

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In a world where paradigms change with the speed of an SMG gearbox and where tomorrow’s vision becomes yesterday’s news just as quickly, it takes guts to get started on the automotive equivalent of a ledge. narrow. No wonder then to find the firm that brought us the rotary engine – twice, no less – once again pushing the boundaries of convention. His latest leap of faith is the Mazda5.

Mazda dubbed this space station (a micro-van by its shape) a multi-activity vehicle in the hope of keeping it away from the soccer-mom specials. The Mazda5 complements its class-unique 2 + 2 + 2 flexible seating with free-spirited styling and great value pricing to better generate buzz among the iPod crowd.

Sport or Touring upstream, the Mazda5 shares basic platform elements with the Mazda3. Major changes include an extension of the wheelbase from 103.9 to 108.3 inches, a redesigned floor that creates a theater-like elevation for the second and third row seats, and an increase in the roof line. 6.5 inches. That bit of geometric swirl gives 142 cubic feet of interior volume, enough to earn that cheeky, not-so-small formal status as a mid-size station wagon.

The interior of the Mazda5 is as young as its sheet metal, though an abundance of hard black plastic trim and aluminum trim creates a high-contrast glare under a bright sun. Better news when it comes to assessing the readability, switchgear placement and comfort level of its supportive front buckets, cleverly wrapped in sleek two-tone fabric. A full set of features complete the mix. Even at $ 17,995, the Sport has A / C, power windows / locks / mirrors, cruise control, tilt / telescoping steering column, steering wheel audio controls, wireless remote key and an AM / FM / CD audio system as well as safety keys such as deformable pedals, front and side airbags and side curtains. The Touring, which opens at $ 19,510, adds a rear spoiler, side sills, power sunroof and six-disc CD changer, along with optional DVD navigation and rear-seat entertainment systems.

Two other key strengths of the Mazda5 are easy entry and exceptional versatility. It starts with low-effort sliding rear doors that open four inches wider than those in a minivan. Climb aboard and the adult-scale second-row buckets offer four-inch forward / backward travel, plus a one-touch mechanism that simplifies access to the third-tier 50/50 split bench. The rear perches are best taken care of by children, although adults stay there with few complaints except for the lack of reading lights and HVAC vents. Plunging the seatbacks up brings cargo space from about seven cubic feet to a generous 44. That number almost doubles when the second row is asleep and results in a 63-inch-long, flat floor. The large, composite-lined liftgate makes it easy to load everything from bikes to boogie boards, and it extends high enough to accommodate a six-foot right foot.

The motivation for the Mazda5 comes from the same high-energy 2.3-liter DOHC four used in the Mazda3s. Here, however, he is forced to face an additional weight penalty of 500 pounds. A remap of the ECM allows torque to peak at 3,500 instead of 4,500 rpm, but total horsepower drops from 150 to 148 pound-feet. The number of ponies also slipped, from 160 to 157, while still reaching 6500 rpm. The net effect is palpable – albeit liveable – in the zoom-zoom index, whether the engine is paired with the standard five-speed manual transmission or the optional four-speed manumatic. On the bright side, the former duo gets solid city / highway EPA ratings of 22/27 mpg.

The driving dynamics and ride compliance of this unconventional troop transporter have always been written by Mazda. The underlying chassis bits, ABS, and electro-hydraulic power steering system are recalibrated for a demanding duty cycle and feel just as capable of defying rush-hour traffic or a twisty two-lane. Despite the Mazda5’s extra height, enthusiastic cornering causes little body roll, and grippy 205 / 50VR17 all-season tires on alloy rims keep the Mazda firmly rooted.

Although foreign to America, the multipurpose vanlet segment is approaching a seven-digit scale worldwide. Mazda is looking for its new team member to represent approximately 10,000 to 15,000 of these units per year here. Acceptance among young working people, including current Mazda3 owners who simply want more capability, will be key to the Mazda5’s success in the United States. at the gate for around $ 20,000, its multifaceted appeal could end up extending far beyond the primary targets.

2006 Mazda5
Base price $ 17,995 to $ 19,510
Vehicle layout Front engine, FWD, 6-pass, 4-door MPV
Motor 2.3 L / 157 hp / 148 lb-ft I-4 DOHC 16-valve
Transmissions 5-speed man; 4-speed automatic
Unloaded weight 3350-3400 lb (mfr)
Wheelbase 108.3 inch
Length x Width x Height 181.3 x 69.5 x 64.2 inches
0-60 mph 9.0 s (MT est, auto)
EPA city / highway fuel economy 21-22 / 26-27 mpg
On sale in the United States Currently

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