2012 Mazda5 GS
2012 Mazda5 GS. Click image to enlarge

Other available options include the $1,200 5-speed automatic transmission on any trim. The GT trim starts at $24,395, adding 17-inch alloys, heated seats, heated side mirrors, Sirius satellite radio, xenon headlights, foglights, spoiler, tire pressure monitoring and an extra pair of tweeters for the stereo (tweeters as in speakers, not a social media entourage). GT models can add a power moonroof for $895, or a Luxury package for $1,790, which includes that moonroof plus leather seating and a centre row fold-out table/cargo bin.

All Mazda5s come with the same engine, a 2.5L inline-four that produces 157 hp and 163 lb-ft of torque. Without getting into too much detail yet, I already feel the benefits of the manual transmission with an extra gear dialing up all the torque and the engine responding with greater immediacy in gear. It’s quicker off the line with a shorter first gear and  while a minivan or MPV isn’t exactly the poster-boy for sportiness, this 2.5 makes its peak horsepower at 6,000 rpm, peak torque at 4,000 rpm, and it doesn’t sound half bad winding up to those lofty revs. One curiosity is that the gears are rather tightly packed, and sixth gear only seems to offer about 200 rpms greater efficiency when cruising on the highway.

2012 Mazda5 GS
2012 Mazda5 GS. Click image to enlarge

Early returns on fuel efficiency are positive indeed. My first trip, exclusively highway driving at 100+ km/h on a totally green engine showed 8.0 L/100 km, and after a couple more days with mixed driving and a few hundred more km, I’m at 8.7 L/100 km. I don’t expect to stay within Transport Canada’s 9.7/6.8 city/highway estimates for very long (Mazda5s with the five-speed auto are estimated at a slightly more efficient 9.5/6.7). Despite my desire for efficiency, the manual transmission and surprisingly nimble handling have me taking my curvy short cuts (and not-so-short cuts). After being inundated with automatic transmissions for the past several months, it is refreshing to row through the gears and get the most out of an engine. Anyhow, back to the efficiency topic, I also like to cite the much more realistic US EPA estimates, which peg the Mazda5 at 11.2/8.4 city/highway for both the manual and automatic and 9.8 in mixed driving.

The next few months will test the Mazda5’s efficiency, practicality, and drivability in the daily rigours of family life, commuting, and summer fun. We’ll have more to say, especially about its styling, seating and cargo configuration, powertrain, and observations about anything that comes up down the road, so stay tuned for monthly updates.

Pricing: 2012 Mazda5 GS Manual

Base price: $21,895
Options: Convenience Package $845 (Bluetooth hands-free phone system, cruise control with steering wheel controls, trip computer, leather-wrapped steering wheel)
A/C tax: $100
Freight: $1,795
Price as tested: $24,635

Connect with Autos.ca