The 2012 Mazda5’s key appeal is “Nagare,” the Japanese word for “flow.” It’s a design language inspired by the elements and beauty of nature, particularly in the forces of wind and water. The new Mazda5 displays a look of grace and elegance.
The design team of the Mazda5 visualized the overall image as a single bead of water with ripples left intentionally on the surface, with the body’s lines expressing the flow of motion. The flow starts forward at the front grille and passes smoothly over the headlamps, hood and fenders, continuing over the sides of the body, rear combination lamps and tailgate in a consistent stream. The lines and motifs appear, disappear and reappear in a theme of change and fusion.
The Mazda5’s interior also showcases the Nagare design influence, ranging from the lines above the dials and along the instrument panel to the stitch pattern in the seats and the design of the seat fabric.
Mazda also refers to the styling philosophy as “seductive smartness,” an approach that sets it apart from the box-like images offered by more conventional minivan competitors in the marketplace.
A low profile fuel tank, the compact multi-link rear suspension and stepped floor combine to provide a spacious cabin with three rows of seats, which may be configured to accommodate two, three, four, five or six passengers. The second row offers separate captain’s chairs that slide, recline and fold flat and feature storage beneath the cushions, with the right middle row seat also providing a fold out basket for additional storage. Third row seats provide a 50/50 split, and can be tipped forward and folded individually to form a flat load area.
The 2012 Mazda5 is available in three trims: an entry-level Sport, the Touring and top-of-the-line Grand Touring. The Mazda5 Sport is available with either a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission. The Mazda5 Touring comes only with a five-speed automatic transmission and takes everything on the Mazda5 Sport and adds even more goodies, while the Grand Touring model enhances the Touring model’s content by adding a power moonroof, xenon high-intensity discharge headlights, automatic on/off headlights, heated door mirrors, rain-sensing windshield wipers, anti-theft alarm system, driver’s seat lumbar support adjustment, heated front seats, in-dash 6-disc CD changer, leather-trimmed seats and Sirius satellite radio.
Power for the Mazda5 is provided by a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine with VVT and electronically controlled fuel injection that delivers 157 horsepower and 163 lb.-ft. of torque.
Acceleration is surprisingly ample — even abundant for a naturally aspirated 4-cylinder engine, and the handling characteristics are genuinely equivalent to that of a sporty sedan — the vehicle stays flat and planted in challenging, twisty scenarios.
My test Mazda5 came in Grand Touring trim finished outside in Copper Red Mica and inside in a Sand tone. The base sticker read $23,875.
The 2012 Mazda5 represents value in an attractive and appealing package. Pricing for the Sport level trim with the manual gearbox starts at $19,990 while the Grand Touring model begins at $23,875 and comes fully loaded at $24,875.
The design is truly an emotional one with the intriguing Nagare design flow offering the innovative wave motion pattern to the side panels, which blend with all of the vehicles other planes and lines with a sweeping continuity. The flow pattern is actually easier to match than a flat smooth surface. The B-, C- and D-pillars are all blacked out, projecting a floating roof imagery.
The 2012 Mazda5 is a lifestyle-serving vehicle that is both fun to drive and affordable. — Arv Voss, Motor Matters
(EDITOR’S NOTE: In light of the disaster in Japan, we are sensitive to provide an explanation to the Japanese design philosophy of “Nagare.” Mazda states on its web site: “Nagare incorporates the beauty of nature, in particular the forces of wind and water, to lend an intuitive sense of motion to the respective designs. Nagare design, as it applies to the new MAZDA5, not only expresses the essence of dynamic performance and the elegance inspired by the beauty of nature, but also the care taken in developing and manufacturing the MAZDA5 to coexist harmoniously with the environment.”)
2012 MAZDA5 GRAND TOURING
VEHICLE TYPE_________________ 6-passenger FWD compact minivan
BASE PRICE___________________ $23,875 (as tested: $24,720)
MOTOR TYPE___________________ 16-valve DOHC 4-cylinder w/EFI
HORSEPOWER (net)_____________ 157 at 6000 rpm
TORQUE (lb.-ft.)_____________ 163 at 4000 rpm
TRANSMISSION_________________ 5-speed automatic
WHEELBASE____________________ 108.3 in.
OVERALL LENGTH_______________ 180.5 in.
TURNING CIRCLE (curb-to-curb) 36.7 ft.
FUEL CAPACITY________________ 15.9 gal.
EPA MILEAGE RATING___________ 21 mpg city, 28 mpg highway
Copyright, AutoWriters Associates Inc., 2011