This review is for the original 2005 - 2008 model Mazda 5. Mazda released an uprated version in 2008 and, whilst I suspect the basic car is the same, there are several enhancements not on the original version.
Judging by the amount of people carriers seen on the road these days, the Mazda 5 is one of the most overlooked vehicles in its class. This is perhaps down to it's size, fairly small compared to others but I think this is one of it's many benefits. Although the car is big enough to seat 7, it is small enough to feel that you're not driving a van about, the sport version especially, and this helps when it comes to parking too! No panicking about squeezing into that tight gap.
And even if it is a bit tight, the Mazda's sliding rear doors are a godsend. This is especially pertinent if you have children as we do. It makes it so much easier accessing the rear seats which have ISOFIX fixtures for kids seats. The back row of seats themselves are really two main seats with a small middle seat. All have 3 point seat belts and the middle seat can be laid down as an armrest if you prefer. The actual seat in the middle even folds away under one of the other back seats while the back folds up. This is convenient when transporting large items, or just to give an additional feeling of room.
The rear seats fold and slide to give access to the two seats in
the very back. These seats fold down into the floor flat, meaning the boot space isn't compromised by these. They fold up and down easily with just one strap and again both have 3-point seat belts. They're fine of you are carrying extra people temporarily, but I wouldn't want to be in these rear seats on a long journey as leg room isn't great. They'd be fine for older children though. Obviously the very back seats take away all but a very small bit of boot space, but still enough for a couple of holdalls and a folding pushbuggy. There is a handy undertray under the carpet at the very back containing the jack, small tools and anything else you might like to put there. When the seats are down the boot is very capacious indeed.
For the driver the car is pretty well laid out with plenty of kit. The dials are clearly laid out and well lit, stick controls are pretty standard, indicators/xenon front lights (including front fogs) on the left, and wipers on the right. This sport version also has basic stereo controls on the steering wheel. The stereo itself has a 6CD autochanger built in to the dash. Once you've worked out how to load and unload individual CDs (not as straightforward as it perhaps could be?) the remaining controls are easy to use. The player also plays discs with MP3s on and will display CD track info on the screen if compatible.
The climate controls are also very easy to use, with the 'Auto' setting being all you ever really need. Just choose your required temperature and away you go. The car will also display basic information on its 'computer'. Basically you can scroll through information showing your overall average speed and litres/100km (not available in miles per gallon irritatingly), your current fuel consumption rate, and also how many miles you have left on the fuel remaining. The latter being the only one of any real use, although the average mpg on ours works out at around 35mpg which isn't too bad for a car of its size.
The glove box is pretty big, and there are drinks holders and cubby holes everywhere, as well as trays and drink holders on the rear of the front seats. There are also cup holders in the very rear.
The car benefits from electric windows and mirrors all round and remote central locking with an alarm which is shrill, but a lot quieter than I'd expect. It also has dark tinted windows on the rear two sets, sold as 'privacy glass'. If you want to do something in private, don't do it in the back of a car! The glass does make the sport look more stylish externally though, when combined with its trim and lower sides, as well as it's standard alloy wheels.
The safety level of the car is also very good, with driver, passenger and dual side and curtain air bags. It has ABS and traction control too.
It doesn't compare to other vehicles like the Ford Galaxy, the Kia Sedona or Citroen C8 as they are all more permanent 7 seaters. This car is a more 'temporary' 7-seater and competes with the Vauxhall Zafira and the Toyota Corolla Verso which we looked at as an option but dismissed as to dull, basic and a tad smaller, whilst being slightly more expensive. This Sport petrol version should be fairly well priced in the used car market, with the more in-demand diesel being the same spec but better on fuel, harder to find and therefore more expensive. There is plenty of expense spared when it comes to cost of ownership though. The car is in insurance group 8 and Mazda often come high up in surveys for both servicing price and reliability, meaning if you are the victim of a rare breakdown it won't cost the earth to fix. The tyres are pretty big though so watch for replacement prices.
I hope this review has come across ok. It could be considered fairly one-sided, but I like the car and if I thought it had a lot of bad points I wouldn't own one!