2012 Mazda5 GS Manual
2012 Mazda5 GS Manual. Click image to enlarge
Long-Term Test Update 1: 2012 Mazda5 GS Manual
Long-Term Test Arrival: 2012 Mazda5 GS Manual

Manufacturer’s web site
Mazda Canada

Review and photos by Jonathan Yarkony

Photo Gallery:
2012 Mazda5

A month and a half into our long-term test, and we finally had a chance to really stretch our Mazda5’s legs after a short break during my travels to Israel. We didn’t get nearly enough relaxing at the beach time, so we decided a trip to visit my mom and a day at Sandbanks Provincial Park were in order to restore our depleted energy—vacations with family obligations are hard work. Granted, the trip from Toronto to Prince Edward County is only two and a half hours each way, and it was only three of us (me, wife, and daughter) and a couple bags, so it wasn’t much of a challenge in any way for the thrifty and spacious “microvan”, as I like to call it. The destination was a day at the beach, so we only needed light clothes and some beach toys, and the 5 was decidedly underwhelmed by our light cargo for this trip.

However, it was a perfect opportunity to get a good read on its highway fuel consumption, so I reset the trip computer at the beginning of the journey. We returned home showing a 7.6 L/100 km average for highway driving with a bit of stop-and-go and some driving on rural roads during our visit to “The County”. This is pretty close to Natural Resources Canada’s estimate of 6.8 L/100 km for highway driving. City driving is officially rated at 9.7 L/100 km, and my overall observed average of 8.9 L/100 km sounds just about right for my driving mix and driving style. US EPA estimates peg it at 11.2/8.4 L/100 km city highway, so it seems that this is one vehicle that is geared more for the real world than for the government testing procedures.

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

Its efficiency is no doubt aided by a very smooth-running 2.5L inline-four that settles in at 2,500 rpm when cruising at 100 km/h. Even at 120 km/h, you would be hard-pressed to tell it is running at 3,000 rpm because the engine is so quiet.

More than anything, readers want to know how the six-speed manual operates in this compact minivan. It’s great. In some cars I’ve driven in the past, a clutch and shifter did nothing for me, but in the Mazda5, the powertrain absolutely comes alive. Clutch pedal action is light and the point of engagement seems as wide as a barn door, so it should be easy for any novice to pick up, as proven by one resident novice’s comments: “I don’t know why I was so afraid to begin with. That stop-and-go [at the airport pickup] was brutal (mentally), but I didn’t even stall.”

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