2012 Mazda5 GS Manual
2012 Mazda5 GS Manual. Click image to enlarge
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Manufacturer’s website
Mazda Canada

Review and photos by Jonathan Yarkony

Photo Gallery:
2012 Mazda5

Odometer: 5,125 km
Observed Fuel Consumption: 9.13 L/100 km
Costs: $639.23 (Gas $578.83; Oil Change $60.40)

Our long-term Mazda5 was thrown into a situation I wouldn’t have expected it to face this summer—a rally. Okay, it’s not like it was an all-out, closed-course special-stage rally featuring jumps and four-wheel drifts around hairpin turns on gravel roads. This was a beginners’ level “Navigational rally”, in which anyone can test their navigational skills and tour some less-travelled roads.

In our case, the event was the Mini Monte Rally, organized by the Kitchener Waterloo Rally Club (KWRC), Maple Leaf Rally Club (MLRC), and Subaru Performance Driver’s Association (SPDA). It was a family-friendly event, so we even brought along our almost-three-year-old daughter, who was greatly motivated by our final destination of a beach at Pinehurst Lake Conservation Area. I was motivated by the BBQ. My wife was simply motivated to get out for some family fun.

2012 Mazda5 GS Manual
2012 Mazda5—Emily’s favourite car this summer. Click image to enlarge

Though I am usually the driver, my wife has an aversion to maps and directions, so we figured I’d have a better chance of keeping us on track as the navigator. Wishful thinking. I couldn’t even get us to the first checkpoint without getting lost once, having to double back to reset the odometer, and misunderstanding a bunch of instructions.  Give me a break, it was my first rally.

Anyhow, once I settled in and got the hang of the instructions, we settled in for a nice afternoon cruise starting from Halton Hills, with a mid-afternoon break at a Kitchener Tim Horton’s, then on to Pinehurst, criss-crossing a bunch of rural routes around the Kitchener-Waterloo area and Wellington County.

While I was frequently buried in deciphering the variety of semi-cryptic instructions to keep us on route, we still found time to admire the scenery, and the route was obviously chosen to feature as many curvy, winding roads as can be found in this part of the country. It was this aspect of the rally that I hoped would explore the limits of the Mazda5’s handling and it lived up to its promise as the sportiest of minivans, able to keep pace with the admittedly low and legal pace set forth in our instructions.

2012 Mazda5 GS Manual
2012 Mazda5 GS Manual. Click image to enlarge

Despite all the winding roads, last-minute “turn here” and a few “oops, I think that was our turn”, the Mazda5 was always settled and my biggest problem keeping all our notes in order was keeping track of my pen—I kept forgetting whether I put it in the door pocket, centre-console bin, or the dashboard tray above the glove compartment.

Just as the car remained composed through all the turns, the interior remained quiet on all variety of rough roads, even on a short stretch of gravel, and the engine is, if anything, too quiet, meaning we were often in a higher gear than necessary simply because there is very little engine noise until about 4,000 rpm. My wife, like me, finds the clutch light and easy to modulate, and the shifter easy to use, with widely spaced gates minimizing gear confusion.

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