May 3, 2009

Car & Driver's Mazdaspeed 5 Boss Wagon Is Done, Goes Like A Bat Out Of Ann Arbor


You'd think that after burning a year or two on my own cockamamie projects here and there, I'd have had more empathy, but no. I kind of mocked the Car & Driver guys for taking so long on their Boss Wagon project: turning a 153-hp Mazda 5 into a screaming, 253-hp Mazdaspeed 5 by transplanting the turbo-charged engine from a Mazdaspeed 3 into the awesome-but-slow minivan.

But now that they're more or less done, and I read about the cascade of unforeseen complications that turned "a simple engine swap" into an eight months--and counting--ordeal involving college shop classes, onboard computers, rewoven electrical harnesses, and relocated injection systems, I have to apologize.

Apologize and congratulate them for managing to shave a whole 1.7 seconds off the stock Mazda 5's 0-60 time. That Mazdaspeed 5 is a jackrabbit with sliding doors where its ears should be.

Return of the Boss Wagon: Mazdaspeed 5 - Project Car [ via dt reader cameron]
Previously, July 2008: the Boss Wagon is back! And it's a Mazdaspeed 5!
Feb. 2009: Or at least they said it would be, if it's ever finished


From the sound of it they're nowhere near finished tuning the thing. Never mind the 0-60 times though, I'd like to see the thing on a track up against a stock Mazda5; I think the better rubber and stability control (not to mention the Mazdaspeed seats -- not sliding around inside the car is a big boost to a driver) will give it a lot of extra handling capability.

At any rate, look out, this van has your number, um... Kia Rondo V6 drivers?

They may get smoked off the line at carpool, but I'm sure those Kia drivers are sleeping tight with their non-voided warranties.

Now if only the Kia didn't look like a BMW X3 that ran into a wall...

More and more Mazda5s and Kia Rondos showing up in my neighborhood. These cars have been out for a couple years but are just now starting to appear fitting 5 or 6 passengers in parking spots vacated by Minis.

The Mazda5 Boss Wagon seems to be more of an incremental step than a game changer. They made it a bit faster and slightly improved the handling which was already a strong point. Since the mods ended up being more complex than expected, I wish they had tried to shoehorn in a Mazdaspeed6 engine and AWD system. That would have turned this thing into a beast that would dust not only conventional Mazda5s but just about any family-oriented vehicle out there.

AWD is an interesting idea... they have AWD versions of the Mazda5's Japanese domestic market twin, the Premacy, although over there you don't get anything bigger than a 2.0 litre engine, so you have to wonder how tough the rear differential would be.

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