When our last car, a Toyota Picnic, died prematurely* on us, we had a difficult time choosing a replacement. Toyota had stopped producing 2.0cc Picnic and their range of seven-seater MPVs are now limited to the 1.6cc Wish or the huge above 2.4cc vans.
Mazda Biante is the only similar capacity 2.0cc MPV we found in the market which can sit eight comfortably with enough room for boot space (for a wheelchair or pram if needed). Most other MPVs offered either boot or seats for the last row.
With this car being the most economic in pricing ($138K Oct 2015), we were not bothered by the aesthetic of the vehicle, which most said resembled a goods van. We were impressed by the keyless access and ignition, build-in GPS and reverse camera, as well as the one touch sliding door for the back. The engine stops automatically when the car stops, for fuel efficiency (although we have yet to verify that).
I can’t really comment on the engine or pick up as I drive like an old lady – slow. What I was dismayed to discover was the lack of storage space. For this, Toyota has really done well, for every empty space has storage capability; plenty of hooks for marketing plastic bags and even coin slots. The centre seat pulled down to become drink holders. Sadly, the Mazda Biante, although with similar internal configuration, has dead spaces that are completely sealed. There isn’t even an ashtray/bin. The only hook at the back of the front passenger seat dropped out after a few uses despite the fact that the weight stated was 4kg max. My packet food was mostly less than 500g.
Like the hook, other mechanical parts were just as flimsy. The plastic seat adjuster for the back seat became dislodged. We discovered that the plastic was just a sleeve for the metal arm. The Biante has a unique feature though, in that the second row seats can be separated into a seven-seater van, or joint to sit three in a row. We left it mostly as joint.
Driving this car is as noisy as driving a diesel goods van. The heavy boot door rattles loudly and we had to put a tissue as a dampener. We hope they can solve this. Internal sound-proving is also poor such that my radio has to be turned up to mask the noise outside.
This is my first Mazda and I am rather disappointed by the quality. I only hope the engine quality is better.
(*Singapore cars come with a ten-year Certificate of Entitlement – COE, which one has to bid in order to own a car. For a small or cheap car, the COE can be as much as the car price. After ten years, one needs to bid the COE again if you want to keep the car. If not, you use the car until the COE expires. Thus my Toyota Picnic, with another full year to go, was scraped off when we discovered that the repair would cost $20K. The balance COE was refunded to us.)