The perky but quiet 1.8-litre engine is our pick. Firm suspension helps with cornering but might shake the dog up
Little or lanky, youll be able to get comfortable and enjoy an elevated driving position. Shame about the cheap-feeling plastics
Enough here to soothe the most anxious parent: from stability and braking systems to airbags galore
Mazda is a consistently high scorer in reliability surveys, so we dont expect to see you being dragged behind a tow truck anytime soon
Not the biggest seven-seat MPV, nor the most versatile, although the sliding rear doors are a boon
Basic cars are generously equipped and you can upgrade for more goodies and sportier styling
The Mazda 5 aims to prove that driving a mum-bus isn't the end of fun driving as you know it. There's a decent balance between comfort and handling, so while the suspension is on the firm side, there's no wobbling around corners or nausea-inducing body roll. The diesel engine has enough spirit to haul the family about smartly; if you're after petrol power the cheaper 1.8 is the best bet.
The 1.8 petrol is smooth and quiet, and the diesel engine only becomes noisy if you work it hard you'll rarely have to. Road noise is well subdued, but you do hear some wind noise at motorway speeds, and the gearshift is notchy.
It's a seven-seater, but the Mazda 5 isn't quite as big or clever as rivals like the Peugeot 5008. On the plus side, the rearmost seats are easy to fold up and down, and the middle row seats slide back and forth to share out legroom. The bad news is that the central seat in the middle row folds up and out, so is too narrow to be really comfortable. Folding the middle row away is a fiddly job, too. Hard, cheap feeling plastics let the interior decor down: kids will need to be on best behaviour to avoid marking them.
It's easy to get comfortable behind the wheel, from where visibility is good. The functions are most easily operated using the steering wheel controls rather than the fiddly buttons on the dash.
Basic 1.8-litre versions come with air-con, alloy wheels, electric windows and cruise control. The entry-level diesel trim is better equipped, with parking sensors and Bluetooth.
The 5 didn't feature in the most recent JD power ownership satisfaction survey, but Mazda as a whole finished in the bottom half of the manufacturer league table.
The 5 scored a reassuring five stars for adult protection in Euro NCAP crash tests, although the three-star child protection rating isn't up with the best. Six airbags and stability control are standard, but only the outer rear seats get Isofix child seat mountings - the middle seat is likely to be too narrow for many child seats.
Secure a decent discount and the reasonably priced Mazda 5 looks even better value. Resale values and running costs should also be a match for rival MPVs, such as the Peugeot 5008. Although the 1.8-litre engine is cheaper, the diesel is cleaner and more efficient, so get your calculator out before making the final decision.