Tom’s Hardware Mazda5 Project Car

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A car that smiles at you

Over the past two years, we’ve covered new vehicles with in-depth reviews. Our first automotive history took place over two years ago with SYNC with MyFord Touch: automotive infotainment for everyone, and we’ve written about everything from crossover competitions to rally racing and premium luxury vehicles ever since.

But clearly, it’s Tom’s Hardware. Our readers are enthusiasts. And we know you enjoy working on your own technology. The need for tinkering runs deep, whether you are inserting a new graphics card, flashing the latest nightly ROM version for your phone, or upgrading your own car.

This DIY devotion is why I bought a brand new vehicle to use as a platform for our own upgrades and modifications. As long as we drive the latest vehicles, automotive technology continues to lag behind mobile devices by years. We are only just now see Nvidia’s Tegra 2 appear in a mass-produced vehicle as Audi showcases its 2015 A3 sedan.

I take to heart the comments left by you, our readers, with every story I post. And there are a number of people who believe cellphones and aftermarket devices serve enthusiasts better than the factories making the cars we’re reviewing.

Without further ado, I would like to introduce you to the very first car from the Tom’s Hardware project, a 2014 Mazda5 Sport micro-van. Why the hell would I choose a micro-van as the basis of our car project? Aside from the two children I have to carry (plus the occasional fifth or sixth passenger), I’m also an avid driver who loves to drive. I needed some sort of compromise there.

The Mazda5 is based on Ford’s C1 global platform that underpins the 3, Volvo S40, V50, C70, C30, Ford Transit Connect, Escape, Focus and a few other vehicles. At its heart, the 5 is essentially an extended, taller Mazda3 hatchback with sliding doors and seating for six. Mazda’s driving dynamics remain intact, offering excellent throttle and steering response, as well as comfortable and engaging suspension tuning. Of course, the icing on the cake of this micro van sundae is the six-speed manual transmission.

There is a downside, however, and it is Mazda’s Nagare styling language that was applied to the entire lineup when the 5 was updated in 2012. The car looks extremely happy, but I don’t. not like the aesthetics. The previous generation Mazda5 (2004-2010) looked better on the exterior. But the new generation’s interior is a massive upgrade, and that’s where we spend our time.

We bought the car a month ago and have driven over 1000 miles already. The exterior remains in stock, except for the tint of the windows all around. Mazda emblems are spray painted in dark gray with Plasti Dip, and the Mazda5 badge on the tailgate has been removed.

Since this is our first project car, I’m going to make this story a mass update with all the little changes to it, including installing a built-in Qi wireless charger, a rear view camera, a dash cam, an iPad 2 for the rear seat for entertainment purposes and LED headlights.


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