When released in 1999, the Mazda Premacy was one of the cheapest 7-seaters available on market. The 1999 Premacy used Mazda's CP platform. It was available with either front or all wheel drive and was equipped with 4-speed automatic transmission. As the Premacy was based on a sedan platform, it was less modular than some if its adversaries such as the Opel Zafira and Toyota Ipsum and was therefore relatively easy to maneuver. The second and third row seats could be folded and removed as on many other minivans.
This generation Premacy was also sold in some Asian markets as the Ford Ixion.
The first generation Premacy is still manufactured by China's FAW Haima Automobile Co., Ltd. where it is called the Haima Freema.
It was powered by a number of engines:
- 1.8L FP-DE I4, 135PS (133hp/99kW), 170N·m (125lb·ft)
- 2.0L FS-DE/FS-ZE I4, 135PS (133hp/99kW), 180N·m (133lb·ft)
- 2.0L diesel I4
The new model has been for sale since summer 2005. It is now sold as the Mazda5 in all markets (with the exception of Australia) and is considered a much better car than the old Premacy model. While actually classified by Mazda and the United States Environmental Protection Agency as a mid-sized wagon, it is generally perceived as a mini-minivan in the United States because of its car-like size and sliding doors. It is based on Ford's global C1 platform, meaning it shares many parts with the Mazda3. Its closest relative is the European compact MPV Ford Focus C-MAX, though the Mazda5 uses minivan-style sliding doors in the rear while the Ford has four conventional front-hinged doors. This version of the vehicle was also introduced for sale in the United States, making it the first compact minivan in that market since the 1994 Mitsubishi Expo (in the United States) and 1995 Nissan Axxess (in Canada). The Mazda5 is marginally larger than the 1984–1989 Toyota Van. However, Kia Motors would follow suit for the United States and Canada to bring the vehicle's only competition in those markets, the 2007 Kia Rondo.