No matter how fine the engineering beneath the Mazda 5’s skin, compact MPVs live and die by the quality of their interiors. The 5 gets off to the same excellent start as the new Ford Grand C-Max by having a sliding rear pair of doors. They add complexity and weight, true, but when it comes to ease of access to the rearmost seats, particularly in tight parking spaces or if you’re placing or extracting small children, they are invaluable. They open onto a middle row of seats that slide fore and aft (and so are capable of giving as much legroom as you could reasonably ask) and can be tipped forwards to allow access to the two small third-row seats (for kids only) or folded flat.
The central row ostensibly offers three chairs, but the middle one is small. Its base can be folded beneath the seat base of the seat beside it and the back folded clear, creating daylight between the two outer seats and allowing a gap through the middle. It’s an intelligent solution, albeit bettered on the Grand C-Max, where the seat back also folds away entirely.
And in the front? The overall feel and perceived quality are not class leading. A Citroën C4 Grand Picasso’s cabin is more interesting and a C-Max’s feels more deftly finished. But the Mazda – you would expect no less – has buttons that operate with efficiency and ease.