February 15, 2011

Mazda 5 Nagare: You Never Step In The Same Minivan Twice


Mazeltov to the Richard Changs, who have a new daughter--and who get to test drive minivan life for the New York Times, beginning with the new Mazda 5. Which Chang hates on the outside--the former Mazda CEO's pet swoopy design language, Nagare [nah-gah-reh, it means flow in Japanese] is apparently dead on arrival, soon to be replaced by the next suit's brilliant idea. But inside, it's another story:

I was overjoyed when I slid open the side panel door, revealing ample room to install the car seat easily on the second-row bucket seat. The stroller base fit in the cargo area behind the third row. (The 5 seats six, two seats in three rows.) And with minimal fuss, our small family was off to the outlet mall.
Ah, the outlet mall. Where city dwellers try to save enough money to break even on their Zipcars. The Changs were apparently there so long, they went through 38 diapers. Am I reading that right?

Anyway, Nagare complaints notwithstanding, with the stroller, the car seat, and the rear seats folding into a totally workable changing table, the Mazda 5 is the perfect new familymobile. And it's cheap, too. And gets good mileage. And it's slow. But then, remember, PRECIOUS CARGO ON BOARD!

Mazda 5 Is Ready for Parenthood, Diapers Not Included [nytimes]


It's too bad about Mazda abandoning Nagare after only one model, the 5 (and a touch of Nagare flavor in the Mazda3). It has a little bit of the love-it-or-hate-it about it, but most good car styling does. The waves or creases definitely break up the slab sides of the mini-minivan nicely. If you go for the perfectly inoffensive look, everything ends up looking like a Honda Accord.
If Mazda wants to get rid of a styling cue, they ought to abandon the hideous plastic smiley face they are putting on everything, and I am saying that as someone who has owned 5 Mazdas.
Interesting statistic I read yesterday: the Mazda5 is FIVE INCHES LONGER and 1 inch narrower than the original Dodge Caravan, and yet we consider it dinky now. Too many trips to Sam's Club and the Outlet Mall, methinks.

Glad to hear that there's at least one other fan of the Nagare style out there. The concepts were all amazing. The problem is that the Mazda5 is the only car to get a fully Nagare-ized. The other applications started and ended with the grill which is not the defining characteristic of the Nagare concepts and doesn't stand well on its own without the other "flowing" features. I like the old 5 and I like the new one even more. If they had managed to pack AWD into this car I'd be driving it.

I have to chime in here, too; I am a fan of the 5's Nagare look, and I'm also a fan of the two minivans Chang cites as examples of somehow screwed up design: the Nissan Quest and the Pontiac Transit. I also like the mid-90s Toyota Previa. If I could find a cherry one with AWD, I'd buy it tomorrow. Seriously.

I'd buy a Mazda5 if it came with about 50 more horsepower, or better yet, a Mazdaspeed version. I doubt that's coming though.

Car and Driver started a project to add a Mazdaspeed3's engine (263HP)to a Mazda5 but it appears they got about 90% of the way there: http://www.caranddriver.com/features/09q2/return_of_the_boss_wagon_mazdaspeed_5-project_car
... and then the project drops off the radar completely.
I assume the project was a victim of the vicissitudes of today's magazine industry financial situation.

We've had a Mazda5 since its intro and we love it. It's perfect for city driving with our 2 kids in tow. I think the wave on this is a little much for me... I'm looking foward to the Ford C-Max as a possible replacement when the time comes.

And it's the only minivan that has ever come with a five-speed. Five speed! And now it's a six-speed! Milford Plaza!

@jdaddyo, you're not the only one who's wondering what happened to the Boss Wagon. I'll bust on those guys next month.

I checked out the C-Max because the author of the 5 review seems to like it. Yuck, man what an ugly car. Can't believe he likes the C-Max over the 5.

I really like our 5 and I've never had a problem with the speed. Sure, it's not a sports car, but I'll take a little pokiness to save some gas mileage.

We love our Mazda 5 and it's not really that slow. I have no problems zipping about on the freeway, the acceleration is great. It's way better than the VW I used to have.

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