2001 Mazda MPV 2.0 petrol
Rare in the UK, but definitely worth a look
Despite having had only one owner for the preceding ten years, the car showed many signs of neglect. The oil, air and pollen filters were filthy and the coolant a rusty brown. This was quickly rectified.
Because of the lack of oil changes, the famous Mazda piston ring weakness is present. Oil consumption is around 500 miles per litre, with a big cloud of blue smoke on a cold start up. Not worth fixing, so I just top up regularly.
Mazda rust! The rear wheelarches have required repair, and I suspect the rear suspension mountings will need welding at the next MOT. The rear shock absorbers had also rusted, so were replaced with good secondhand parts.
The air conditioning did not work when purchased, but was revived with a £50 recharge.
The front-to-rear coolant pipes rusted out, causing a leak. I bypassed the rear heater at the matrix.
The alternator and power steering/air conditioning belts seem to stretch quite easily, or the adjusting bolts do not stay tight - they require regular tightening or they squeal under load.
The general rarity of the car means getting anything other than service parts is a problem - a blowing exhaust required a custom-made replacement, because there is no aftermarket support and a dealer part would have been over a thousand pounds.
The car was very cheap (£400 with a full MOT) so a lot of the faults can be overlooked.
This car is rare in the UK (but very popular in the US) - despite this I was able to locate a secondhand sliding nearside door in the right colour easily enough (accident damage was one of the reasons it was cheap to buy).
The car is larger than the Ford/VW/SEAT and Citroen/Fiat/Peugeot triplets - a similar size to a Chrysler Voyager. This means you get seven seats that can be used by adults, and a reasonable boot with all of them in place. The five rear seats all come out for a cavernous loadspace.
Despite only having 118 BHP to move nearly 2 tons, performance is better than you might expect. The engine is smooth and willing to rev. Handling and ride are fine. Traction in the wet or out of uphill junctions can be a problem. I have averaged 30 MPG over the last 10,000 miles, which I think is pretty good for mixed use.
Such a shame that Mazda does not galvanise their bodywork. Mind you, the car is 14 years old and has hardly been cossetted, but we have been spoiled by anti-corrosion advances, mainly from the French manufacturers.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 31st October, 2015