Electric-slide side doors and flexible seats make the Premacy a great family car in a small package. Luggage space can be tight with all seats filled.
- Flexible seating can favour passengers or luggage
- Very comfortable ride around town
- Power doors great for the school run
- No side or curtain airbags for a late model car
- Little luggage space when all seats in use
- Do not lose the keys - they are expensive
The Mazda Premacy is a small people mover, closely related to the Mazda3. It shares the same basic engine, transmission and some interior parts in a taller, longer and more spacious body. Its main “party trick” is its ability to fold its seats to cater for two to seven people. It was not sold new in New Zealand and in some markets it is known as the Mazda5.
Inside and out
Like most other Mazdas of the time, the Premacy’s front features a huge “smile” grille, with large headlamps cutting into the bonnet. Sculpted indents in the panels along the vehicle’s sides give it a unique look compared to other people movers. Most versions have darkly tinted windows, which have a wrap-around appearance at the rear. The rear doors slide electrically, handy for getting kids in and out in tight spots. The driver can choose to open just the kerbside door from their seat - perfect for the school drop-off.
The dashboard is similar to that in the Mazda3 and is quite sporty for a people mover. The leather-wrapped steering wheel feels premium. The two large gauges are housed in sporty pods with other details provided by digital indicators in between. A red information screen at the top of the dash sits above a touchscreen infotainment system which will require a band expander to receive local stations. Mazda fans will like the fact that a small rotary engine animation appears on the screen when the car turns on. Below this are the controls for the climate control air-conditioning and the transmission shifter - raised up to allow for a flat floor. A large storage shelf sits above the glovebox in front of the passenger seat.
The Premacy is known for its flexible seating. The second-row seat can slide fore and aft to vary legroom for the row behind. The second-row centre seat can be folded away entirely, which turns that row into two separate seats. Each half of the third row can be folded flat into the floor by pulling a strap. Room in the front row is good and, although the seat base is a little small, it is comfortable overall. The second row has enough room for three adults but you should note that if you put anyone in the third row at the same time, legroom can get tight. The third row is best for children or teenagers.
With all seven seats in place luggage space is minimal – at best, only two small suitcases will fit. With the third row folded down there is an impressive amount of space, enough for six large cases. Fold down both rear rows and the space available is enough to carry a couple of mountain bikes. That’s helped by a durable rubberised seat back.
On the road
Two engines are available in the Premacy. Most are powered by a 2-litre four-cylinder engine. A high-efficiency “SkyActiv” engine of the same size was introduced from 2013. The standard engine is paired with a five-speed automatic and the SkyActiv version has a six-speed automatic. Both can be shifted manually. Four-wheel drive was an optional accessory. The engine in our review Premacy produces 110kW and 183Nm. Its performance is reasonable and engine noise is low. The transmission is very smooth and makes smart decisions with gear selections. You'll need to plan overtaking manoeuvres carefully when the car is fully loaded because weight of the vehicle and passengers will push the engine hard.
The way the car drives is aimed squarely at city comfort. Bumps in the road are soaked up well and little noise makes its way into the cabin. The steering is light and responsiv; the brakes are very effective. There is some body roll but not enough to make the ride uncomfortable.
The driver can see very easily forward to the edge of the Premacy’s nose and to the side. However, rear visibility is restricted and will be worse with five heads behind the driver. Thankfully, reversing cameras are standard on the S model reviewed and are fitted to most other cars that have arrived here from Japan.
We couldn't find an official or aftermarket tow rating for this generation Premacy. That’s not a surprise, since the related Mazda3 has a meagre rating. If you are looking to tow, we suggest looking at other vehicles or consulting your local towbar provider.
No local safety tests have been done on the Premacy. Japanese NCAP testing gave the car a full six stars for both driver and passenger protection. Safety specifications are on the low side for such a late-model vehicle. The CS model gets front airbags and anti-lock brakes. The E and S models add electronic stability control. Side and curtain airbags are not available.
ISOFIX child seat mounts and top tethers are found in the window positions in the second row. All five rear seats feature full shoulder-type belts, which offer more protection than the lap-only type.
The Premacy has developed a reasonable reputation for reliability and is popular in the vehicle trade. The engine uses a timing chain which will not require regular replacement.
There have been reports of higher mileage Premacys - above 150,000km - which develop transmission issues. These are usually indicated by a harsh thump when the car downshifts or a hard shift into “Drive” or “Reverse” from neutral. Avoid any vehicles that show this behaviour and make sure yours is serviced with a high-quality transmission fluid.
The i-Stop system can be troublesome. Check to see if the i-Stop light is continuously illuminated on the dashboard and if the stop-start works in traffic. If it doesn’t, there are several possible faults. Most common is the failure of the secondary i-Stop battery. This can cost up to $500 and you will need to visit a dealership to have the battery “coded” to the car.
Make sure you have at least two key sets with any purchase - if a spare key is not provided, order one immediately and have it coded by a dealer in case your primary one is lost or stolen. Replacing a key if no spare is available is time-consuming and expensive, with the car required at the dealership to do the job. If you have lost the keys, it will also mean the cost of a tow truck.
The Premacy is noted for its side sliding doors but it's important to make sure they open and close freely. If there is undue noise or resistance, try lubricating the track and roller mechanism with some white lithium grease or similar (not CRC). If that does not help, investigate the track for damage.
Suspension components tend to wear out over time with most of the Mazdas of this era. The shock absorber mounts and swaybar mounts are particularly troublesome. Freshly imported examples should have had such issues identified at compliance, but a pre-owned vehicle here should be driven and checked for any untoward noise or banging over bumps and judder bars.
Mazdas have a poor reputation for underbody protection and corrosion. Get down on the ground and look underneath the car for discoloration or bubbling, especially where the rear suspension connects to the body. Check the underside of the car and the cross support under the radiator. Repairs can be expensive, so have the car professionally inspected if you see anything that worries you.
Cost of ownership
Mazda suggests the Premacy be serviced every 12 months or 10,000km, whichever comes first. A local Mazda dealer says this service costs from $370.
Over 14,000km of driving a year, RightCar says the Premacy will cost $2,690 a year to fuel. The SkyActiv model costs far less - just $1,760. The 60-litre fuel tank will cost $120 to fill and should take you 570km before the fuel light comes on.
A vehicle licence for the Premacy costs $76.92 a year, with the car in the cheapest ACC levy group.
Cover for a Premacy valued at $9,680 is estimated by Trade Me Insurance to cost $47.09* per month, around the same as a Mazda3.
The Premacy offers arguably better value than the similar Toyota Wish, with newer, lower mileage models available dollar-for-dollar with the Mazda. The model is available on Trade Me Motors and is priced from $7,500 to $17,000. We recommend finding the 2013-and-onwards SkyActiv model. They cost less to fuel and don't appear to be more expensive in the used car market.
- CS - Features steel wheels, climate control air-conditioning, left side electric sliding door, keyless entry, anti-lock brakes, driver and passenger airbags and steering wheel audio controls.
- E - Adds electronic stability control, high-intensity headlights, a stop-start system and folding side mirrors.
- S - Adds alloy wheels, keyless start, side body, trims, fog lights, leather steering wheel, right-hand side sliding electric door, premium seat fabrics and reversing camera.
- 2010 Launched in Japan
- 2013 SkyActiv engine introduced
- 2014 Given cosmetic update inside and out
- 2018 Model to be discontinued
|Review vehicle||2010 Mazda Premacy 20S|
|Price||$7,500 to $17,000 for models which have travelled 70,000km to 120,000km|
|Engine||2.0-litre four-cylinder, 110kW and 183Nm|
|Transmission||Five-speed automatic, front-wheel drive|
|Safety rating||Six-star Japan NCAP rating|
|Servicing||10,000km or 12 months|
|Spare wheel||Space saver tyre|
|Fuel economy||9.6-litres per 100km (claimed)|
Review vehicle supplied by Turners Cars.
*Our insurance estimates are based on a 35-year-old male with no accidents in the last two years, garaging the car in Mission Bay, Auckland. The car is not used for business and will cover 10,000km to 20,000km a year. We estimate with no option add-ons and $500 excess. Customise your estimate at Trade Me Insurance.