THE NEW MAZDA5 multi van has landed, and unlike the careful ‘new edition tweaks’ seen on cars such as the newest Honda Jazz and latest VW Golf, this is an update you’ll definitely notice. A tricky move considering the original 5’s wedge-like styling was so loved, and that two years ago it almost beat its diminutive Mazda2 sibling to the Car of the Year title. It achieved similar acclaim worldwide. This one retains all of the functionality and practicality of its predecessor, including the dual sliding doors and 6+1 split seat system. Unfortunately, that’s when Mazda wentorigami mental on the metal work.
I know how this happened. Mazda doesn’t do ‘restyles’, they journey in new ‘design directions’. Whip out your pocket translator for a whole new ‘design language’ evolved from Nagare. And that’s not an uncooked sliver of fish, rather it’s the outgoing design ethos surrounding the fluidity found within nature. As a result of this a trio of creases permeates the car’s previously slab-like flanks dipping, swelling and criss-crossing this way and that. The effect is repeated within the cabin, is echoed on the alloys and generally makes a nuisance of itself everywhere you care to look. But why stop there, when Mazda’s maniacal corporate grin is ready to be grafted onto the front end. At the rear its C pillars have been blacked out while both ends enjoy updated lighting clusters. And I’m sorry to say, but viewed three quarters from the back, memories of the Ssang Yong Stavic are conjured up, and that’s just unforgiveable. Dare I say the very controversial BT50 concept brushed across the designer’s desk mid-redraw?
Miraculously, the sum of these hideous parts isn’t all that bad and the car’s value for money index has improved thanks to a sale price slightly below the outgoing car. The model range still encompasses Original, Active and Individual iterations, all powered by the same combo of six-speed manual and 106kW/180Nm 2.0-litre petrol engine that did service in the last car. Variety seekers stand aside, there are still no diesels or auto boxes on the horizon.
The range-topping Individual is the only one to feature the motorised sliding doors, and comes loaded with all the mod-cons you’d want in a bus: six-speaker multimedia system and cruise control controlled via the steering wheel buttons, auto aircon and a diverse collection of cup holders, nooks and crannies to excite the magpie types. Then there’s that veritable army of safety acronyms doing duty right across the range on what rides and handles like a compact family car. All likely to be overshadowed. What was that about looks only a mother could love?