Van Review: 2014 Mazda5 GT

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Mazda’s small van is still a sporty little family transporter, but it’s time for an upgrade

Content of the article

Overview Small mature minivan with lively nature
Advantages Good handling, pleasant to drive
The inconvenients Choppy ride, bland interior
Value for money Good
What would I change? The vehicle needs updating, especially the cabin

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What a unique creature has become the Mazda5, a truly compact six-seater minivan with a six-speed manual transmission to play with. Much like the duck-billed platypus, it seems evolution has left it behind. With far fewer players in the MPV segment than a generation ago, the remaining examples have grown bigger and more luxurious. Meanwhile, the sport utility segment has stepped in to fill the gap left by the family van, with three rows of seats available in many mid-size and some compact models.

Still, the Mazda5 moves forward, not exactly bristling with the latest tech, but still offering the utility that comes with folding third-row seats and sliding rear doors – just in a smaller package that makes it more ideal for smaller families. . , or for use in the urban core rather than the surrounding suburbs.

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2014 Mazda5 GT

About that six-speed, though: Still the zoom-zoom company, Mazda manages to inject a measure of sport into just about anything it builds – and the 5 is no exception. Of course, the vast majority of buyers will go for the five-speed automatic, but there are some stubborn and individualistic people, perhaps reluctantly because they drive – out of necessity or a change in lifestyle – a minivan in the first place, which will treat their transport like a sports car. And, indeed, with the GT trim level (as opposed to the base GS), they’ll get more than a whisper of MX-5 (Miata) to their delight, starting with the looks.

It’s pretty hard to dress a box, but Mazda gave it the old college try with the GT, fitting it with 17-inch aluminum alloy rims and P205 / 50R17 all-season tires, d ‘sport rocker extensions, tailgate spoiler, fog lights and xenon headlights. This makes it a casual little people transporter.

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Read more: Six minivan alternatives with three rows of seats for under $ 35,000

Still, don’t for a second consider challenging the guy in the Camaro next to you at a red light; there are several laws of physics that work against you, including a serious lack of envy. The Mazda5 is powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces just 157 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 163 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm, which is hardly the place to start. moments of pleasure. Even with the GT’s relatively light weight of 1,551 kilograms, it will take around 10 seconds to reach 100 kilometers per hour.

2014 Mazda5 GT
2014 Mazda5 GT

But, just like the Miata, which isn’t exactly bloated in the power department, it’s that combination of engine and tranny so smooth with well-tuned gear ratios that make things faster and sportier. than they are. The Mazda5 has an agility that makes it fun to drive.

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The same cannot be said of his conduct, however. Oh, I didn’t think it was too bad, but the wife and girl weren’t happy, complaining that they were going to – how should I say – scream. (My wife’s comments didn’t surprise me; she’s not the world’s tallest traveler, but the kid usually has a cast-iron stomach.) I’ve found that a short shift and a general behavior like a grandmother reduced whining. Still, if you’re envisioning the 5 as a family vehicle, make sure those with sensitive stomachs can deal with sometimes choppy driving that doesn’t hide the van’s shorter wheelbase and its cheaper roots.

That same lower price ($ 21,995 for the base GS model, $ 24,805 for the GT) shows up in the interior of the Mazda5, which is in dire need of an update. The entire dashboard area is a sea of ​​dull, hard, black plastic, an uninspired affair that calls for a bit of color and outline. At least the main controls are large and easily identifiable, and for the GT Mazda adds a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. In addition, there are the usual amenities – power windows, door locks and mirrors, cruise control, air conditioning, Bluetooth, on-board computer, rain-sensing windshield wipers, etc.

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2014 Mazda5 GT
2014 Mazda5 GT

With the overall size of the 5 in mind, there is room for family and luggage. The second row captain’s seats have tilt and slide functions (with a functional folding table / loading bin between them), making it easier to access the third row, at least for small fry. There’s not much room to stow things with all the seats up – less than four cubic feet – but the rear seats fold flat to provide a much more usable 15.4 cu. ft., and that doubles when the second and third rows are folded.

Read more: Let’s stop calling it a minivan, it’s an adventure boat!

There is a certain sporty charm to the Mazda5 that is overshadowed by its size, making it a niche player in the family transportation segment. The point is, it’s been four years since the last overhaul and the pickup is in serious need of an overhaul. The concept is solid; I see enough of them in my suburban slice to recognize their usefulness. But I’m also starting to notice a lot more B-Classes, the top-of-the-range version of Mercedes on the same concept. And, frankly, that’s where I think Mazda needs to go with the 5. Update the look, improve the cabin, improve the ride – and charge more money, but not too much. It’s a tall order, but not impossible. The alternative is to let the 5 fade into the dark, and that would be a shame.

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2014 Mazda5 GT
2014 Mazda5 GT

The specifications

Vehicle type Compact front-wheel drive minivan
Motor 2.5L DOHC four cylinder
Power 157 hp at 6,000 rpm; 163 lb-ft of torque at 4000 rpm
Transmission Six-speed manual
Brakes Four-wheel disc with ABS
Tires P205 / 50R17
Price (base / as tested) $ 24,805 / $ 25,595
Destination load $ 1,895
Natural Resources Canada Fuel Consumption (L / 100 km) 9.7 city, 6.8 highway (2 cycles)
Standard features Electric doors, heated mirrors and windows, automatic headlamp control, xenon headlights, rain-sensing wipers, remote keyless entry, anti-theft system, USB socket and auxiliary audio, steering wheel audio controls, tilt and telescopic steering column, lumbar support adjustable driver support, air conditioning, heated front seats, AM / FM / CD audio system with satellite radio and MP3 capability
Options Sunroof ($ 895), Deluxe Package ($ 895), includes leather seats, lumbar support (driver’s seat only), center-row folding cargo table / bin (Note. Sunroof and luxury package are now standard equipment on the 2015 model)

2014 Mazda5 GT
2014 Mazda5 GT

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