Over the past few years, we have witnessed many new Mazda models featuring SKYACTIV engines and its signature “Kodo – Soul of Motion” design. Because of this, the Mazda3, Mazda6, MX-5, CX-3 and CX-5 have garnered plenty of attention, while the Mazda5 compact minivan has not.
The Mazda5 has not been refreshed since the 2012 model year, and sadly that has taken a toll in the sales department. In the United States, the Mazda5 has been discontinued after the 2015 model year, but Mazda Canada has kept it going, offering Canadians something from a time gone by.
As automakers look to get smaller and consumers look for anything but a minivan, Mazda has stayed strong in rolling out the 2016 Mazda5. There's nothing wrong with selling something different, and it looks like that's exactly what Mazda is doing with this unusual six-seat minivan.
For this test drive, I took out the top-trim GT that places the 5 on 17-inch alloy wheels, adds xenon (HID) headlights, leather seating and heated front seats. Those are nice additions, but they don't seem to elevate the 5 away from still looking like an outdated model.
The exterior still has a cutting-edge, swept-back style to it, and until you open those sliding doors – it truly doesn't seem like a minivan. Inside is where you start to feel its aging process. You won't find the Mazda Connect system with its touchscreen and command wheel. In its place, you will receive the most basic system out there: a small horizontal strip at the top of the dash that provides you the time, climate control temperature, the radio station and kilometre count. Outside of that, you're treated to a lot of grey hard plastic, but at least all of the buttons are nicely organized below the horizontal strip of digital information.
The Mazda5 is a “no frills” approach, but one that comes with plenty of versatility. The main reason to even look at the 5 comes down to its three rows with two passengers per row. If you don't need the third row, you can manually fold down the back bench (that's mostly for smaller children) and open up the cargo space to 426 litres. If you need more room, the second row can be folded as well to create a decent 857 litres of space.
Over the weekly test, it was evident that the 5 doesn't drive like a typical minivan. Everything about its drive felt more like a hatch with superb handling and cornering abilities without feeling its weight. Under the hood, the 2016 Mazda5 receives an adequate 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine producing 157 hp and 163 lb.-ft. of torque, that's matched to either a six-speed manual or in this case a five-speed automatic transmission. It's not going to be the fastest thing on the road, but it can at least hold its own for a six-seat transporter that managed to achieve a combined fuel rating of 10.2 L/100 km.
To me, the Mazda5 GT version was a tad pricey at $27,995 with the automatic transmission. It's much more reasonable at the base level with a starting point of $21,995 and that's all you need, as the GT’s extras don't spice this minivan up that much.