By Samuel Ee
The affordable 2.0-litre MPV isn't so affordable anymore because of soaring COE premiums but one which still manages to register small but steady demand is the refreshed Mazda5.
This compact multi-purpose vehicle is getting some attention from families seeking a refreshingly different seven-seater with a relatively spacious interior.
While its engine and chassis are carried over from the previous Mazda5, the upgraded car gets a brand new body with its distinctive Nagare design's flowing lines on its flanks. Despite the new styling however, this Mazda minivan retains its main advantage over the competition - the sliding rear doors for easy entry into the back, especially in a tight car park.
The interior with its three rows of seats remains unusual too.
The 6+One concept provides accommodation for six plus one occupants. Like in a bigger MPV, the Mazda5 has a pair of captain's chairs for the centre row with an armrest in between.
Fold the armrest and the aisle between the two seats can be used to access the third row (the last row can also be reached by sliding one of the second row seats forward). But if there is an extra passenger, then bring out the Karakuri seventh seat.
Just flip the left second-row seat squab up to reveal the centre seat and unfold it. The armrest is then swung up to become the seatback.
If that isn't clever enough, there is a Karakuri cupholder-tray in the other second-row seat.
When either the seventh seat or the cupholder-tray is flipped out and in use, the compartments under the second-row seat squabs turn into 6.3-litre utility boxes.
The fact that the 4,585 mm long Mazda5 has a 2,750 mm wheelbase means the last two rows of seats are usable enough. The centre row seats can slide forward and backwards individually and this helps to optimise third row legroom, making this last row sufficiently comfortable for average-sized adults.
There is little boot space to talk about when all three rows are in use although an undertray exists for stowing smaller items.
|Price:$186,000 (with COE)
Transmission: 5-speed automatic
Max Power: 144 hp @ 6,500 rpm
Max Torque: 180 Nm @ 4,400 rpm
0-100kmh: 13.1 secs
Top speed: 186 kmh
Distributor: Trans Eurokars 66036118
But because the second and third rows can be folded to form a flat floor, the Mazda5 is able to acquire excellent load-lugging abilities. Numerous storage compartments are also found around the cabin.
To move its human and other cargo, the Mazda5 has a 2.0-litre engine to drive the front wheels via a five-speed automatic transmission. The 144 hp in power and 180 Nm of torque are only adequate but they can be maximised by shifting the gearbox manually.
What is interesting though is that the driving position is more than acceptable for an MPV.
It may not be a speedster but at least the Mazda5 promises to be a stylish and satisfying drive.
This article was first published in The Business Times.