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Described by Mazda as a 'space hatch', the Premacy is one of a new breed of mini people-mover vehicles that provide above-average interior space and versatility, thanks to unusually tall body styling.
The concept is not new, one example being the (since discontinued) Daihatsu Pyzar that debuted back in 1997. The Chrysler PT Cruiser and Daewoo Tacuma arrived on the Australian market last year and there are models from Holden (the Zafira) and Toyota (the Avensis Verso) on the way. Hyundai, Citroen and Renault all have similar vehicles which may well end up here before too long.
Vehicles such as the Premacy don't have the seating capacity of the 'full size' people movers (though there is a seven seat version of the Premacy in Japan), but they are cheaper to buy, more economical to operate, and generally easier to drive and park.
With only one version of the Premacy being sold in Australia, it's just a matter of colour choice and whether to buy the manual at $27,690 or the automatic at $29,640.
Unlike many so-called family sedans and wagons, the Premacy is a true five seater with three individual (and removable) rear seats and a flat floor. Rear occupants aren't so well off for leg room as those in the front, but there is enough room for five average size adults.
The front seats proved a little disappointing in that they are too flat to provide effective lateral support when cornering. For me, they also lacked good thigh support.
There is good luggage space with all seats in use (though the rear suspension towers intrude somewhat) and enough room for two mountain bikes if all three rear seats are taken out.
Equipment levels are comprehensive, and include airconditioning, dual front airbags, anti-lock brakes with electronic brake distribution, engine speed-sensitive power steering, three child seat anchorages (mounted on the rear seat backs to avoid webbing getting in the way of luggage) and three rear lap/sash adult belts. Unusually, the centre rear sash comes from the left rear pillar and has two plug-in clasps.
There is also a four speaker stereo (with commendably clear and easy-to-use controls), plus a CD player, an engine immobiliser, remote central locking with a deadlock function, and power windows and exterior mirrors. Good protection against parking scrapes is provided by rub strips on the bumpers and on the body sides.
The Premacy's driving position is similar to that of bigger 'people movers' in respect that the driver sits high off the floor and is confronted by a very wide expanse of dashboard. Vision for general driving is good, but the front of the bonnet is not visible and the head restraints and body pillars restrict the view to the rear.
The controls are clearly labelled and easy to use, however the left-mounted turn signal (a legacy of the Premacy being designed for Europe) may not please some owners. The lack of an automatic gear indicator on the dash panel is a nuisance, requiring the driver to look down to the floor to check which gear is selected.
On the road, the Premacy performs satisfactorily, but the combination of a 1.8 litre engine and a vehicle mass of 1330 kg was never going to provide sparkling performance.
Prospective buyers may want to drive the Premacy before buying, to ensure they are happy with the performance and they should also remember that a full complement of passengers and luggage (such use as the design of this vehicle would encourage) will slow it more.
The automatic works reasonably well, given the limited engine power. Driving experience at the initial Premacy release indicated that the manual versions perform better, but also that the gearbox needs to be used to best advantage.
The Premacy's handling is safe and competent enough, but it hardly inspires spirited driving. Push it hard and the Premacy will lean into corners, with a tendency towards understeer.
The Mazda Premacy is an interesting new entry into the growing world of mini people-movers that could well suit family car buyers who aren't turned on by 4WD wagons, full size people movers or large family sedans and wagons.
The Premacy isn't big on performance, but it's well equipped, well built and pleasant enough to drive on a day-to-day basis. The space and versatility afforded by its interior layout is a strong point.
Test vehicle supplied by Mazda Australia Pty Limited.
|Body type||5-door hatchback|
Versatility of seating and load arrangements.
Seats lack effective lateral support
|Country of manufacture||Japan|
|Warranty||Three years, unlimited km|
$27,690 - manual
|Number of cylinders||4|
|Engine size||1.8 L|
|Induction||Electronic fuel injection|
|Claimed max power (kW)||92 kW @ 6000 rpm|
|Claimed max torque (Nm)||163 Nm @ 4000 rpm|
|Wheel size||15 "|
|Type||Power assisted rack and pinion|
|Turns to lock||3.2 m|
|Width (including mirrors)||1705 mm|
|Fuel capacity||58 litres|
|Max towed mass (trailer plus load)||720 kg|
NRMA Theft Rating
Acceleration - Test results
|50 - 80km/h||5.4 secs|
|60 - 100km/h||8.2 secs|
|0 - 80km/h||9.1 secs|
|0 - 100km/h||13.6 secs|
|Best recorded during testing||9.1 L/100km|
|Worst recorded during testing||11.2 L/100km|
|Average on test||9.8 L/100km|
|Distance to stop (from 80km/h)||30.3 metres|
|Interior noise at constant 80km/h||67 dB(A)|