NEW FOR 2008:

– Redesigned grille, front and rear bumpers, 16- and 17-inch alloy wheels, and gauges
– Standard side and curtain airbags
– New five-speed sport mode automatic transmission replaces four-speed automatic
– New LED taillights on GT model
– Front mud guards standard on GS model
– Side sill extensions deleted from GS model
– Automatic climate control and outside temperature gauge standard on GT
– New second-row cool air vents with fan speed control (with a/c)
– Front passenger seat includes inner armrest; second-row seats include outer armrests
– Standard auxiliary audio input
– Bluetooth hands-free phone system standard on GT model
– Integrated navigation system with touch screen and six-CD changer available on GT model
– Interior colours: Sand and Black added, Espresso Brown leather deleted

For 2008, the Mazda5 enjoys a mild facelift, with new exterior styling cues, new instrument gauges and trim changes.

Best described as a compact "micro-van", the Mazda5 is based on the Mazda3 platform, but has a longer wheelbase, three rows of seats and two sliding side doors, and can carry six people.

Available in GS or GT trim, the Mazda5 uses a 2.3-litre four-cylinder engine, with five-speed manual transmission or optional five-speed automatic with manual shift mode.

Features on the GS include 16-inch alloy wheels, power mirrors, rain-sensing intermittent wipers, automatic light control, intermittent rear wiper, CD stereo with auxiliary jack and wheel-mounted controls, tilt and telescopic wheel, power locks with keyless entry, electroluminescent gauges, third-row 50/50 split fold-down seatbacks, and locking glove-box. Air conditioning can be added as an option.

The GT adds 17-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning with automatic climate control, side sill extensions, power heated mirrors, fog lamps, rear spoiler, LED taillights, outside temperature display, cruise control, alarm system, centre row fold-out table/cargo bin, easy-close sliding door system, power sunroof, Bluetooth hands-free telephone system and leather-wrapped wheel. Available options include heated leather seats and navigation system.

The Mazda5 is a good city vehicle for those who need to move people, but don’t want a big van. Rear-seat passengers enter via two sliding doors; entry into the third row is made easier by second-row seats that fold and slide forward. None of the seats can be removed entirely, but the second and third row can be folded to form a flat cargo floor. The GT’s "easy-close" sliding doors, while not entirely electric, use a motor to pull the doors in once they’re manually closed most of the way.

Easy to park and manoeuvre, the Mazda5 gets better fuel economy than most minivans, and the third row is surprisingly roomy, given the vehicle’s size. Drivers may find the 2.3-litre engine works hard when the vehicle’s loaded, though, and you’ll have to spend extra to put air conditioning on the otherwise well-appointed base model.

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