If you're looking to buy a Mazda Bongo then reviews are useful to flag up any issues
The internet has a few websites which have reviews as well as forums which tend to be more useful for information on mechanical issues and general running tips.
Mazda Bongo / Ford Freda Review
Manufactured as either a Mazda Bongo or Ford Freda, this 8 seater MPV has a lot going for it. The standard 2.5l turbo diesel engine gives more than enough power to drive the somewhat unaerodynamic box along at comfortable cruising speeds between 70 and 80mph, though over 80mph the fuel economy does suffer noticeably. But the Japanese fuel filter system will accommodate the use of refined/recycled vegetable oils and biofuels without any additional modification.
Coming fitted with air conditioning A/C as standard, most models also deliver power steering, electric windows (front), electric mirrors, and a handy rear parking mirror that for once actually helps!
The pure MPV version is often referred to as the 'Bongo-low' by those who have the auto-freetop elevating roof. This is mainly because the freetop incarnation of the Bongo is an excellent example of modern campervans. Not only does the roof extend to accommodate a 2 berth sleeping compartment (with emergency exit), but the seats can also be folded down for a further 2 berth, making this the only viable 4 berth mpv campervan on the market in this price range.
Competing with the VW and Mercedes products I would have to say that the Japanese win the technology game - I had a rather envious look from a Mercedes owner who was struggling with his manual roof when I arrived at a campsite. Parking up and hitting the electric elevate button, he turned green by the time my roof had automatically popped up!
There are also lots of great extras available for the vehicle, from the simple FM band convertor for the original Japanese stereo, to after market armrests, cup holders, space technology beds, drop in kitchens, entertainment systems and attachable awnings.
I own a 4 berth awning tent which I use as kitchen space on extended trips. Very easy and quick to set up. - most of these can be found on ebay.
All in all this is much more reliable and spacious than the old aircooled VW campers, much cheaper than the modern VW and Mercedes offerings, and fitted with many of the 'gadgets' that are expected as standard in this modern age.
For more detailed information why not check out the bongo owners club at www.bongofury.co.uk - also a perfect place to get replacement parts and service kits in stock in the UK.
Excerpt from article in the the Telegraph
...Buying a Mazda Bongo was not so straightforward, however. I had no idea what sort of camper to look for at first and knew only that it should be cheap, easy to run, reliable and something George and I could call home for a few days whenever the sun came out.
I scouted around websites such as AutoTrader and eBay, despite friends' concerns about my ability to differentiate between a donkey and a decent runner. "The one in Southend was too high, the one in Enfield had no kitchen unit, the one in Cardiff was overpriced," I told them, at the end of yet another week of increasingly fruitless searching.
Then a failed eBay bid led to a friendly call from the seller, advising me what to do next. 'You want a Mazda Bongo, my friend. They're no wider than an average car, are built by the Japanese so go on forever and can cruise along at 80mph.' He directed me to something called the Bongo Fury website – no, I didn't know it existed either – and I trawled through the small ads. A few clicks and calls later I was on my way to Westward Ho! on the Devonshire coast, where a chap named Steve was getting a bit too old to go surfing all the time and wanted to downsize. Having exchanged cash and keys, I was the proud owner of a dark green van that shares a name with a set of drums and has an awning that requires a degree in origami.
Now the sun is out again, and I've been preparing the Bongo for more trips, which basically means brushing out last year's sand from Oxwich Bay. The leisure battery, used to power the light and cooker, needed replacing, too. I thought that would be straightforward when I pulled into the garage forecourt last week. The mechanic took one look and said, "This is going to be tricky, mate. All the instructions are in Japanese." That's the downside of an aftermarket conversion: I can't just pull into my Mazda dealership for assistance.