Mazda MPV Estate 1999 - 2004

Mazda MPV Estate 1999 - 2004

Review by it
Monday, May 16, 2016


  • It seats seven comfortably
  • It’s extremely reliable
  • The equipment levels are reasonably high


  • The styling is rather bland
  • It lacks some features that other MPV’s have


The Mazda MPV doesn’t do anything particularly well, but at the same time doesn’t do anything badly either. It offers a spacious interior for seven people to sit comfortably with the option of removing all the seats and turning it into a cavernous van size space, but it lacks certain unique features that rival top of the range models have. The rear sliding doors are good for when parked in tight spaces and the diesel engine performs admirably, but the handling lets it down with too much body roll in the corners and lifeless steering. Unfortunately for the Mazda MPV, for everything that it does well, there is something that lets it down and this makes it quite an average car.

Exterior and Interior

The MPV follows the same standard boxy shape of most other MPV’s and it’s probably for this reason that Mazda didn’t bother even giving it a name. Inside there is plenty of head and legroom for all the occupants, even for the back two passengers in the third row of seats. The thick pillars at the back may make the two passengers in the rear of the car feel claustrophobic. These two same passengers will have some difficulty getting into the back row of seats as the middle row of seats doesn’t slide forwards, although the two large sliding doors do making getting into the middle row and when parked in tight spaces easier. The boot isn’t very big with all five of the back seats in place, but they can be folded and removed to increase the space to a cavernous space. The trim is fairly dull and the dash and central panel don’t look anything but functional. Everything is easy to use though and there has clearly been some thought in the placement of all the controls. Surprisingly there is only a single trim to choose from, however, it comes with plenty of kit such as air-con, a CD player, an electric sunroof and windows and traction control with a couple of other optional extra’s to choose from such as leather upholstery and alloy wheels.

Performance and Economy

The first petrol engine is best avoided as it was underpowered and the slowest in the range. The 2.3-litre that replaced it in 2002 is a much better unit, is a second quicker to 60mph (12.4 seconds), whilst still returning the same 28mpg as the original engine. It still isn’t particularly refined and has to be worked really hard to get any decent sort of power and performance out of it. The diesel is by far the better engine and is the one to go for. It is a far more economical engine achieving 39mpg and isn’t that much slower than the petrol either reaching 60mph in 12.8 seconds. It is also extremely refined and quiet for a diesel. It adds that extra low-down pulling power which is better for hauling the MPV around when it’s fully loaded which is lacking in the petrol units. Insurance costs are fairly cheap compared to some of its rivals with all of the models falling into group 11.

Like to Drive

On motorways the MPV performs admirably however drive it on anything else and the steering lacks feel, there’s too much body roll in the corners and it could with a bit more grip. The ride is also uncomfortable over rougher surfaces and at slower speeds. The driving position is good though feeling more like a car than an MPV and it has clear views all round with minimal wind and road noise being present even at motorway speeds.

Faults and Repairs

The MPV never sold in great numbers so it’s hard to gauge just how reliable hey are. However, as it’s a Mazda it is more than likely to be mechanically sound and there have been no serious problems reported. There was a recall in 2003 because the front fog light detached itself and melted a hole in the bumper of some vehicles. There were also fears over the seal on the cylinder head failing which caused another recall for cars built between August and November of the same year so you might want to check that this work was carried out if the car you’re looking at was affected. Other than that we’d just advise you to check all the electrics and that all the interior trim has stood up to the test of being a family car. Service and repair costs shouldn’t be too costly as parts are cheap and Mazda have excellent hourly rates.