One of our reviewers succinctly but none too flatteringly summarised the Mazda 5’s design, when they first saw the rear of it, by saying, “I thought it was a SsangYong Rodius.” Which goes to show that the search for distinctiveness does not always guarantee an appealing visual result. But at least Mazda has made an effort with the design of this seven-seat midi-MPV, which is not the world’s easiest class of car to decorate, given the dictates of its function.

To our eyes, though, it is at least a prettier effort than Ford’s Grand C-Max. At the front, the family face has been studiously applied, so it is the 5’s flanks that wear its most noticeable design elements: the ‘air on water’ strakes, which light picks out as highlights. Whatever your thoughts on their appeal, they do at least seem to reduce the visual bulk of the metalwork beneath the windowline, which is the point of the exercise.

Vicky Parrott

Deputy reviews editor
The search for distinctiveness does not always guarantee an appealing visual result

This generation of Mazda 5 is the first designed after the most recent bout of pedestrian impact legislation, so the rounded nose kicks out further, and includes more crush space behind it. Cuts around the edge of the bonnet reduce the visual bulk of the 5’s front end. The vents are fake, the foglights are not. Wrap-around lights are a conscious effort to reduce the visual bulk of the car around the rear three-quarters. It works reasonably well, too.

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The boot has a usefully low loading sill, and no lip, either. A chrome exhaust pipe is a cheap option, as is the ‘sporty’ rear spoiler. We’re not convinced it adds too much sportiness, but it may go to keeping the rear window grime-free.

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