Hi, I am the original poster of this review. I realize that the Mazda5 is based on the second generation Ford Focus platform, but it simply is not as fun to drive as the original Focus. If you read reviews from Europe, most car magazines also state that because of the second generation Focus refinement, it simply is not as fun to drive as the first generation.
I am fully aware as to the benefits of platform sharing, and a vehicle like the Mazda5 would likely not have been possible without the Focus platform. That being said, I think I am fully justified in my review to say that this is not a vehicle that endears itself to you. It is a Japanese appliance. It does what it is supposed to do, nothing more and nothing less. I was only stating that if you are someone that actually loves your vehicle, this might not be the car for you... you know, since I bought one?
To the original poster: can you please be more specific on exactly why you find this car "not fun to drive" and not lovable? Is it the handling? the acceleration? the road noise? the looks? the passenger comfort? the trimmings? the options?
I will be test driving one soon and just would like to know more on what to watch out for.
I think the original reviewer needs to also clarify why he bought this car. The Mazda 5 is a MINIVAN, not a Miata or a sports car. Every auto review I've read has stated this is THE sportiest minivan vehicle out there, but it is still a minivan.
Minivans are, by definition, supposed to be "appliances" since their target market is families whose main purpose is transport, not handling. Auto manufacturers really have no reason to build in a sporty character since the majority of buyers won't care.
That said, there are a few minivans in the world that are "sporty", some even turbocharged.
Hi, original poster again.
OK, on the test drive, I would look out for a number of things. if possible, I would take the car for a test drive in cold weather, because since I have acquired my car, the weather has gotten colder, and a number of problems have sprung up.
First of all, when the weather gets below zero degrees Celsius, the front suspension makes a VERY loud groaning/squeaking noise going over bumps, such as expansion joints and speed bumps. this goes away after about 30 minutes, once the car heats up; apparently it is known to mazda and they will be replacing my front control arms. keep in mind that I have had this vehicle for about 4 months; I am NOT pleased.
Secondly, I would pay close attention to the quality of plastics they've used in the car. the dash is very hard and again, in cold weather, is prone to rattling. on the door panels, it is possible to move around the door handle and it's surround.
When actually driving the car, I would try to drive in wet or snowy climates... it will highlight how terrible the tires are. I have bought winter tires because the stock Toyo don't even provide decent grip with a little rain. the size of tires on the car (P205 5017) are quite expensive.
I don't know whether you will be testing manual or automatic, but I find the automatic to be kind of jerky at first until it warms up. you might also find that the throttle is not very sensitive to inputs, especially on the highway. trying to pass someone and flooring it, yet barely accelerating can sometimes be scary.
The seat belts also tend to rattle against the side of the car when not in use, and it can be quite annoying. Mazda has provided a little slot to put the belts in, but as you can imagine, passengers rarely do so.
Another issue I've had is that the metal cover around the disc brakes have all rusted. yup, all 4 wheels. I would check to see if the vehicle you are test driving has the same issue, because Mazda won't do anything about it for you.
And to the poster that asked why I bought this vehicle: its because I need the cargo room. Previously I had a focus wagon, and the cargo capacity in the Mazda5 is similar. I disagree that it is a minivan; just because it has a third row and sliding doors, doesn't make it a minivan. and while it might be "sporty" compared to behemoths like the Odyssey and Sienna, it isn't all that sporty compared to my focus. which, for all the zoom zooming Mazda brags about, is kind of a let down. I know I know, don't tell me "you should have noticed on the testdrive blah blah" but the truth is, I needed a car asap, this was in my budget, and was better than the Civic, Matrix, Fit, Yaris, and 3.
There is always a compromise when purchasing a vehicle. When cargo space is imperative, more than likely the "sportiness" will be sacrificed. Perhaps you should have bought a Mazda 3 or 6 if handling was more important than utility. You cannot fault the car for what it was designed to do. It's not a sports car.
That being said, I have worked for Mazda and the 5 was one of the cars that I rarely saw in the shop for anything other than regular maintenance, and the owners were all very pleased with them.
I posted my own review on this site about my Mazda5 that recently got totaled. I just bought a new one today, a Mazda5 GT which is even nice than my 06 Touring was, but the reason for my comment now is that I agree in part with the original poster. I bough my 06 in October, but when the weather in NYC turned cold in January I began to hear squeaking and rattling noise from the suspension whenever I would go over bumps. The noise, which was terrible, would disappear after the car warmed up after some driving. Also, when the car was cold, the transmission would jump from 1 to 2 gear and this too would disappear when the car warmed. Over all though, Mazda5 is an excellent and safe car and I just bought my second one so clearly I'm in love. In 4 months of ownership I only did an oil change and a recall on sliding doors that was quickly fixed. That's it. And, despite some minor shortcomings, it is a very engaging and fun to drive minivan.
To clear it up, there are no Ford-made or Ford-designed parts. The chassis parts are used in Ford products though. The engine, while shared with some Fords, is designed and built by Mazda.
Regarding Mazda5 GT cold weather operation. I am concerned about the operation of the motor assist slide door return in cold weather. Do the motors close doors effectively or do doors need to be manually secured?
I think I understand what the original poster mean by "not a lovely to drive car". I own a hatchback Yaris and despite its qualities I have to admit too that it lacks that "driving feeling" that makes a pleasant ride. It's just about suspension tuning, and sometimes also about steering tuning too. It allows the driver to "feel" the car chassis more or less. That said, not everyone will complain about it, just because people have different needs or expectations. Not everyone needs to "feel" the car while driving.
I have a 2006 Mazda 5 and I have had problems with the cold weather noises. I have had it into the shop numerous times and they"fixed" it and it came back. What is wrong with Mazda? They have very loyal owners and great products. They should back their products up and make their customers happy.
I have to disagree about the sportiness of the Mazda5. I enjoy driving this car. It has responsive steering and the suspension holds its own in the corners. I have a BMW 325i and it handles about the same as the Mazda.
Although I did not drive the Mazda 5, I still understand what the original reviewer calls the "emotional" driving factor. While the Focus or the Mazda 3 drives are enjoyable, it doesn't mean the Mazda 5 based on the same platform should also be. The "enjoyable" driving factor comes from the steering response, which is directly a result of the platform coupled with the suspension dynamic behaviours. The Mazda 5 is a stretched Focus or Mazda 3, with different suspension components and different platform because of the size modifications. When the platform and the suspension are being modified without keeping in mind the original dynamic conception, the steering reaction changes and the car could feel no more nimby or fun to drive.