MPVs are growing in stature as Renault's Scenic and Modus, Opel's Meriva and Toyota's Verso continue to make strides in the market. Will the addition of a funky and sprightly new Mazda MPV have a similar impact?

MPVs are growing in stature as Renault's Scenic and Modus, Opel's Meriva and Toyota's Verso continue to make strides in the market. Will the addition of a funky and sprightly new Mazda MPV have a similar impact?

Mazda's concept mini MPV, the MX Flexa, caused quite a stir when it was first shown at the 2004 Geneva show, and later in production guise at September's Paris Motor Show. The vehicle goes on sale in European markets shortly, but what are the chances of local moms and tots soon getting the chance to zip about in these little vans?

Not great, Ben Pillay, the general manager of communications for Ford Motor Company SA told CARtoday.com on Wednesday. Pillay said that "the (model) programme is being studied" and added that he was not sure whether the Mazda5 would be introduced here or not.

When CARtoday.com noted that Honda's new FRV mini-MPV would be launched towards the end of October, Pillay conceded that there was definitely a market for Mazda's latest addition. He added that the decision regarding the MPV's local introduction would be made by the end of the 2005.

This stylish MPV has six "normal" seats but, courtesy of Mazda's seating system, they can easily be rearranged to make room for a stowable seventh seat. This seat cushion is stored beneath one of the second row seats, and can simply be folded into the central position when required.

The two outer seats in the second row are able to slide and recline, and the third row seat is split 50/50. The second and third seat rows can be tipped forward individually to create a flat load space when required.

Two sliding rear doors provide access to the second and third rows. They slide to reveal a 700 mm opening for easy entrance and exit.

UK owners will have a choice of four models powered by three engines. The "entry" unit is a 1,8-litre petrol that produces 86 kW at 5 600 r/min, and a peak torque figure of 165 N.m at 4 000 r/min. The 2 , 0-litre produces 108 kW at 6 000 r/min and 185 N.m of torque at 4 500 r/min. A two-litre turbodiesel, tuned to deliver 82 and 106 kW , will be released later.

Across the range, standard equipment includes air - conditioning, electric windows and mirrors, and an audio system. Steering wheel mounted controls and leather trim are also offered on vehicles fitted with the higher trim levels.

Flagship models will be equipped with safety systems such as dynamic stability control and traction control, while six airbags, ABS, EBD and EBA are also available on all models. Comfort and convenience features like a six CD changer and climate control are included in the cabin, and front fog lamps and 17-inch alloys point to the MPV's more athletic side.

Original article from Car