Preview: 2012 Mazda5 car previews mazda
2012 Mazda5. Click image to enlarge

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By Grant Yoxon

Photo Gallery:
2012 Mazda5

Toronto, Ontario – When the Mazda5 went on sale for the 2006 model year, it was at the time a unique vehicle blending the positive attributes of both a minivan and a compact car. With four-cylinder power and compact dimensions, the Mazda5 had three rows of seats and room for six passengers as well as the sliding rear doors characteristic of a minivan.

Critics doubted the concept would catch on, but Mazda and Canadian consumers proved the critics wrong. Since its introduction, Mazda has sold just over 50,000 of the mini minivans and it has become Mazda’s second best selling nameplate behind the Mazda3.

Mazda Canada’s director of Corporate Public Relations, Gregory Young, terms it “one of Mazda’s brand pillars.”

While once unique, Mazda is now getting some competition in a segment that few contested. The Dodge Journey, Kia Rondo and soon the Chevrolet Orlando and possibly the Ford C-Max will vie for the same customers that find the Mazda5 so appealing.

Preview: 2012 Mazda5 car previews mazda
2012 Mazda5. Click image to enlarge

So it is no surprise that after five years the Mazda5 has been revised and updated; but don’t think for a minute that Mazda would take any chances with its success story. The basics remain unchanged. The Mazda5 retains the same dimensions, the same wheelbase and the same interior space with a millimetre of difference here and there.

The Mazda5’s revised sheet metal is perhaps the most noticeable change from the previous generation. With the application of Mazda’s Nagare “flow” design language, previously seen only on concept cars, the new Mazda5 has some interesting lines flowing from the front wheel arches and through the doors, connecting the rear taillights to the arc of the front fenders. Mazda describes the design image as “single bead of water with ripples intentionally left on the surface, such that the body’s lines express the flow of motion.” Nagare attempts to incorporate the beauty of nature, in particular the forces of wind and water, to instil a sense of motion to the design. It is a pleasant break from the slab-sided minivan designs we are used to seeing.

The Nagare design language continues on the inside and can be found in the flow of the interior panels, the lines along the instrument panel and in the stitch patterns and fabrics on the seats. Chrome-look accents on the doors, the console and the steering wheel and around the gauges, air vents and switches enhance the look of otherwise monotonous black plastic.

Preview: 2012 Mazda5 car previews mazda
Preview: 2012 Mazda5 car previews mazda
2012 Mazda5. Click image to enlarge

But most buyers will be more focused on functionality than design language and the new Mazda5 has an abundance of functionality: captain’s chairs in the first two rows of seating and a 50/50 split folding rear bench that allows for two, three, four, five and six passengers and various cargo configurations. The sliding rear side doors allow ease of access for both second and third row passengers even in tight parking spaces. Second row seats slide and recline and can be folded flat without removal of the headrests. With both third row seats folded flat, cargo capacity is 426 litres and even with both in the raised position there is still room for a baby carriage behind the third row.

Abundant cubbys and compartments can be found throughout the cabin including under-seat storage in the second row to keep travel toys and other gear within reach.

For 2012, the Mazda5 receives the more powerful and more fuel-efficient 2.5-litre engine currently used in the Mazda3, Mazda6 and CX-7. As a result, horsepower rises from 153 to 157 hp and torque goes 148 lb-ft to 163. Both maximum horsepower and torque are achieved at a lower r.p.m. than the outgoing 2.3 litre engine. The Mazda5 can be equipped with either a six-speed manual transmission or, for $1,100 extra, a five-speed automatic transmission.

When the 2012 Mazda5 goes on sale in January 2011, it will come equipped with an ever growing list of standard equipment for a base price of $21,795 (GS). Standard safety features will include anti-lock brakes, dynamic stability control, traction control, dual front airbags, front seat side airbags, three-row side air curtains, engine immobilizer anti-theft system, ISOFIX child safety seat anchors and brake override system. This latter safety feature prioritizes the brake pedal over the accelerator should both be pressed simultaneously.

Preview: 2012 Mazda5 car previews mazda
2012 Mazda5. Click image to enlarge

Standard comfort and convenience features on GS models include 16-inch alloy wheels, power mirrors, windows and door locks, air conditioning, AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo with four speakers, audio auxiliary jack, tilt and telescoping steering wheel, remote keyless entry system and one-touch up/down driver’s window. An optional convenience package, priced at $845 adds Bluetooth hands-free phone system with Audio Profile music streaming capability, steering wheel-mounted audio and cruise controls, leather wrapped steering wheel, trip computer and an anti-theft alarm system.

Starting at $24,395, the Mazda5 GT includes all of the above plus 17-inch alloy wheels, sport side sill extensions, rear liftgate spoiler, fog lamps, Xenon high-intensity discharge headlights, satellite radio, heated front seats and tire pressure monitoring system. A luxury package, priced at $1,790 adds power moonroof, leather-trimmed seats and a centre row fold-out table/cargo bin.

With fuel prices rising and with larger minivans costing $30,000 and up, many consumers looking for a family people-mover are taking a second look at compact minivans like the Mazda5. With its refreshed look and family-oriented convenience features, Mazda hopes to keep the Mazda5 ahead of the competition.

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