With the current version of its 5 family hauler, Mazda did an admirable job of designing a smart-looking offering for what is traditionally a dowdy and unglamorous sector. Now, in the run-up to Geneva Motor Show in March, it has released photos of that car’s replacement and it looks – dare we say it – positively sexy. No doubt the first thing you’ll want to know about this car is the story behind those swooshy lines that have been carved into its flanks. Well, cast your mind back to early 2008, when the Japanese manufacturer showed off a wild, racecar-based concept called the Furai and promised that its radical lines would inform the design philosophy of its forthcoming roadcars. Observers could have been forgiven for being cynical about such a claim, but this new 5 is the realisation of that promise in the metal. It looks good – we particularly like how the ‘swoosh’ is actually just the final part of a line that begins at the bottom of the front bumper and continues along the wheelarches before winding its way down the doors. The design also incorporates plenty of glass, which should keep both the driver and pint-size passengers happy, and features the now-familiar ‘corporate nose’ first seen on the new Mazda3. Overall, it compares well with offerings from the current king of the good-looking family car, Ford.
According to the 5’s project manager, Hideki Matsuoda, the design team’s key aims were to “[combine] superb practicality with the superior environmental performance these modern times demand and a new expression in stylish design.” To this end, the 5 features large sliding doors at both sides, and can be specified with up to seven seats. And the aforementioned side swoops aren’t just for show – Mazda says they contribute to fuel efficiency by achieving a particularly low drag coefficient, together with optimal lift and airflow stability characteristics. The 5’s green credentials are boosted further by what’s under the bonnet: it will be powered by a newly developed 2.0-litre DISI1 petrol engine equipped with Mazda’s ‘i-stop’ stop/start system, as debuted on the Mazda3. In addition to the flagship 2.0-litre, Mazda will also offer a 1.8-litre petrol engine. The Japanese marque reckons CO2 emissions have dropped by 15 percent compared to the old model, something that will do no harm when the road tax bill comes due. The petrolhead in us just can’t help speculating as to how much fun it would be to whisk the kids around in an MPS version, though... For now, however, we’ll have to be content with the standard version, which will be officially unveiled to the public at Geneva. You should be able to park one on your driveway this autumn.