I SAMPLED a couple of Mazda models back to back that will appeal to two different types of motorists.
First up was the small 2 followed by the much larger 5 C-MAV – Compact Multi-Activity Vehicle.
The Mazda2 is one of the few small cars that comes with an automatic gearbox and this is ideal for town driving – as was its light steering.
This smart-looking five-door hatchback is available with a choice of petrol and diesel engines but the auto version only comes in the most powerful 1.5-litre 102bhp petrol TS2 model.
It proved nippy enough moving from standstill and going up through the gears but I felt the engine was a bit noisy at times when asked for overtaking power.
The 2 is a fun little car though thanks to its sharp handling and fairly firm suspension.
With a top speed of 105mph it was also quiet enough driving at motorway speeds.
This model isn’t the most frugal in the range but still manages to return 44.8mpg combined, 34.9mpg urban and 53.3mpg extra urban.
The entry-level TS Air Con has a good spec for a model costing just £10,305 with lots of safety features as well as body-coloured bumpers, electric door mirrors, electric front windows and CD radio.
The TS2 additions include Dynamic Stability Control, 15-inch alloy wheels, body-coloured door handles and door mirrors (electric heated and folding), leather steering wheel with mounted audio controls and speed alarm – all for a cost of £12,795.
The model is roomy enough for three passengers to travel in comfort while it would be a bit tight in the rear to squeeze in any extra body.
If you’re looking for something a bit bigger then Mazda has the answer.
The 5 range offers the versatility of carrying luggage or bodies in differing numbers – and has recently added a diesel-powered one to the line-up.
Petrol choices are 1.8 and 2-litre units while the top-of-the-range model I drove was the Mazda5 1.6 Diesel Sport.
This 111bhp engine is the least powerful choice but I felt it supplied plenty power through the six-speed manual gearbox. It’s the most economical and can achieve 54.3mpg combined, 61.4mpg extra urban and 44.1mpg urban along with low CO2 emissions of just 138g/km.
Mazda refer to its ‘6 plus one’ seating which takes into account the rather small centre seat in the middle row.
There are two individual seats in the rear but these would not be too comfortable for adults travelling on long journeys as a motoring colleague pointed out during his two-hour stint in one of them.
There were no such complaints from the other three passengers who enjoyed lots of leg, head and elbow room in the spacious and well equipped interior which included leather trim and heated front seats.
It’s a family car and buyers are unlikely to be looking for racing-car starts in the 5 and I was more than happy with the performance.
Handling was good on some country roads and there was little wind or engine noise while cruising on the motorway.
Ride comfort was also good, even going over some large potholes, and driving position was excellent with fine all-round vision.
Being the top model, this came with a few excellent features, the top ones being the power sliding rear doors, opening with just a touch of the handle or by the remote.
Prices for this attractive-looking model range from £18,165 for the 1.8 TS to £21,955 for the test car.