The History Of Mazda Premacy

The Mazda Premacy is a compact MPV built by the Japanese manufacturer Mazda since 1999. The first generation Premacy was built in Japan and exported to Europe and Asia. A re-badged version was sold by Ford in a few Asian markets (including Japan) as the Ford Ixion or Ford MAV. The second generation is sold outside Japan as the Mazda5. Ford Lio Ho in Taiwan, which assembles Mazda 5 for the local market, adapted a re-badged version as the Ford i-MAX in 2007.

The first generation Premacy was a 2 or 3-row, 5 or 7-passenger vehicle, while the second generation adds a third row of seats for up to 6 passengers in American form, and 7 passengers outside the United States. Both generations were true vans with near-flat floors, folding or removable 2nd row, and fold-flat rear seats.

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.

In the U.S. market the Mazda5 fits six passengers using three rows of seats, with 2 seats per row. In the European market it is sold as a seven seater using Mazda's "Karakuri Seating System", which means the car has three rows of two seats, with the seventh seat a clever fold away jump seat in the centre of the middle row. Mazda has managed to use proper three-point seat belts on all seven seats and avoided resorting to a lap only belt on the seventh seat.

The middle row of seats recline and slide front-to-rear, and fold flat to ease cargo loading. The rear row also folds flat.

Mazda gambled on how popular a "mini-minivan" platform might fare in the U.S. and in Canada. For the 2006 model year Mazda chose to keep things simple and sporty for North American customers, offering fewer Mazda5 options than in other markets. The North American version lacked the front-to-back roof rails (common to most all minivans) that were included as standard in other markets. Other notable Mazda5 options not offered in North America included a back-up camera, power-assist side doors and even a choice of engine (2.3L only). A second-row DVD entertainment system was eventually offered as a dealer installed add-on. Mazda produced a limited number of Mazda 5 units featuring all-wheel-drive but this version was not made available outside of Japan for the 2006 model year.

Mid-generation changes

For 2008, the Mazda Premacy/ Mazda5 received a mid-cycle refresh. For the exterior, the Premacy received an updated front bumper, wheels, and rear LED lights for Touring and Grand Touring trim levels. The automatic gearbox is updated to 5-speed. The interior received a few changes to the dash including luminescent gauges, an updated radio control layout with auxiliary input, a rear A/ C vent, and center console, and a full set of armrests for the first and second seating rows on North American models. Mazda first released the 2008 Mazda Premacy in Japan, with other markets to follow.


The wheelbase is 2750mm (108.3in) with an overall length of 4610mm (181.5in) [ JDM: C model/ F model - 4505mm (177.4in) / S model - 4555mm (179.3in) ].

Engine options:

  • 1.8L MZR I4, 85kW (116PS/ 114hp)
  • 2.0L MZR I4, 110kW (150PS/ 148hp)
  • 2.3L MZR I4, 117 or 119kW (159-162PS/ 157-159hp)
  • 2.0L MZR-CD I4 Diesel, 89 or 105kW (105-143PS/ 103-141hp)


Mazda was forced to recall the Mazda5 in the United States shortly after production began due to a risk of exhaust system fires. Owners that were not made aware of the manual shifting mode ("sport mode") of the 4-speed automatic transmission would mistakenly leave the shifter in that position, resulting in high temperatures as the car would remain in second gear. Mazda's solution was to add a heat shield around the muffler and to alter the vehicle's software to not allow excessively high RPMs beyond a short period of time when in "sport mode". Although the 5-speed manual transmission equipped cars would seemingly not need to be recalled, Mazda chose to retrofit all Mazda5 versions with the new parts and software. The company also gave customers US$500 (for Canadian owners, it is C$500) plus a loaner car while the problem was mitigated. 2,700 vehicles were affected.


The Mazda5 was named "Best New Multipurpose Family Vehicle" in the 2006 Canadian Car of the Year awards. Consumer Reports ranked the Mazda5 as the best "tall wagon" in their test, though the car failed to gain a "recommended" rating due to unknown reliability.

In April, 2006, the Japan New Car Assessment Program (J-NCAP) awarded the Mazda5 a maximum 6-star rating for front-occupant crash worthiness. In Europe, the Mazda5 was awarded a maximum 5-star "adult occupant" safety rating in September 2005 by the Euro-NCAP.

In European markets the Mazda5 is sold under the name Premacy. Two models were introduced in 2005 and 2007 under the name Premacy Hydrogen RE Hybrid, a bi-fuel version in which the two-disc rotary engine allowes operation with hydrogen or gasoline.

Main article: Plug-in hybrid

Mazda is developing a rival to the plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt; Mazda tests are sufficiently advanced that Mazda has a working prototype in a Mazda 5 MPV bodyshell .

Mazda is finding a host of other uses from plastic to fabrics in its vehicles as it aims to be more environmentally friendly. Mazda plans to introduce its innovations - bioplastic internal consoles and bio-fabric seats - in its Mazda5 model at EcoInnovasia 2008, at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center in Bangkok. Up to 30% of the interior parts in the Mazda5 made of bio-material components .

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