2013 Mazda5 GT
2013 Mazda5 GT
2013 Mazda5 GT
2013 Mazda5 GT. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Peter Bleakney

After driving one of the first Canadian Mazda5 press vehicles for a week back in 2005, I decided to buy one.

Here was a vehicle that hit all the right notes for me. With two young kids it offered just enough utility, and those easy sliding rear doors were a big selling feature. As were its tidy dimensions, sporty handling and five-speed stick.

Coming out of a 1998 Plymouth Voyager minivan that had literally self destructed at the hands and feet of our family and dog, I was ready for this hip little six-passenger wedge that promised reasonable fuel economy and a modicum of driving enjoyment.

Teething problems aside (some early North American models suffered suspension issues) we liked the Mazda5.

We weren’t the only ones. This well-priced mini-minivan (MPV in Euro-speak) resonated with Canadians. Sales rose steadily, peaking at almost 12,000 for 2008. At one point, Canadian per capita take rate was almost 10 times that of the US.

We do like our practical and efficient vehicles up here, dontcha’ know.

Since then, sales of the Mazda5 have seen a slow decline, with 5,267 moved in 2012.

Which I find a bit odd, because for the 2012 model year the Mazda5 received a significant refresh. It became a much better vehicle.

Key enhancements included an all-new dash and a 2.5L four cylinder that put out 157 hp and 163 lb-ft of torque, versus the old 2.3L unit with 153 horses and 148 torques. The standard manual transmission went up one cog to six, while the optional five-speed automatic carried on. Air conditioning with auto climate control, side curtain airbags, brake assist, stability and traction control became standard issue.

Stability and traction control was a biggie. Pre-2012 car didn’t have these electronic aids, and my ‘5 was very quick to spin its front Toyos in damp conditions.

This Mazda5 redux is the first (and last) recipient of the company’s Nagare Flow design language. This pertains to the pair of wave-like scoops along the 5’s flanks that in some light looks too much like you’ve been sideswiped.

2013 Mazda5 GT2013 Mazda5 GT2013 Mazda5 GT2013 Mazda5 GT
2013 Mazda5 GT. Click image to enlarge

So, time to get reacquainted with the Mazda5, here tested as a 2013 GT model in new-for-2013 Jet Black Mica. The ‘5 starts at $21,995 for the base GS with six-speed manual. This GT has a base of $24,805 – add $1,200 for the five-speed auto and $895 for the moonroof. A Luxury package at $895 is offered and this includes leather seats (black or tan), lumbar support (driver’s seat only), and a handy second row fold-out table/cargo bin.

The extra dough for the GT nets 17-inch alloys (up from 16 inches), heated front seats, heated and powered exterior mirrors, xenon headlights, fog lights, upgraded audio with Sirius, hands-free Bluetooth, leather-wrapped shift knob, side skirts, spoiler and darkened grille.

New for all 2013 Mazda5s is a driver’s side seat back pocket and USB input. The GT model now has rear backup sensors and turn signals on the exterior mirrors as standard. The six-CD changer has been deleted.

Auto-equipped models are rated at 9.5 L/100 km city and 6.7 L/100 km highway. The manual models are marginally less efficient. My week concluded at 10.5 L/100 km, which is consistent with what I got in my own vehicle.

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