Logic dictates that there's almost always a direct relationship between an item's size and its worth; as the old saying goes, "the bigger the better." It's especially true with cars. Larger engines provide more power. Wider seats accommodate our growing butts. And personal buses (a.k.a. large suvs) carry us and all of our junk. However, every once in a while something comes along that defies logic, or at least makes a good opposing argument. Engineers of the 2006 Mazda 5, for instance, have taken a stand by suggesting that their vehicle can be sporty and offer utility and versatility.That puts those engineers on some shaky ground. The diminished minivan approach has been tried before, with less than stellar results. Does anyone remember the Nissan Axxess? How about the Mitsubishi Expo? We didn't think so. Nevertheless, Mazda is intent on tapping into a segment that has yet to be proven even exists in the North American market. If there is indeed the potential for substantial sales, the 2006 Mazda 5 has the styling and versatility to make a good go of it. But, if not, the Axxess and the Expo will be anxiously awaiting the Mazda's arrival into the Hall of Cars No One Bought.
As with all Mazda vehicles, drivability is a primary concern. To address that issue, the 2006 Mazda 5 uses a MacPherson strut front suspension with a multi-link setup in the rear. A 2.3-liter, four-cylinder engine with Sequential Valve Timing (S-VT) is bolted into the 2006 Mazda 5. This is the same motor found in versions of the Mazda 3 and Mazda 6, but in the Mazda 5 the horsepower drops by three ponies to 157 and torque dips by two lb.-ft. to 148. When charged with powering the Mazda 3 and heavier Mazda 6, the 2.3-liter engine is adequate when rowed with a manual, sluggish with an automatic. It remains to be seen if the motor will be enough to make the Mazda 5 experience even the least bit exciting, especially when it's loaded up with six passengers. A five-speed manual transmission is standard fare, and may help to add some sporting character to the drive. A four-speed manually interactive automatic transmission is optional, and likely to sap what meager power is on tap.
Photos courtesy of Mazda