A couple of years ago I drove what was then an all-new Mazda 2, it impressed, but more recently the Japanese maker has given it a bit of an update, offering more for your money.
As a five-door only model, the baby of the Mazda fleet is quite practical within its segment, fighting for space on our roads against the likes of the Vauxhall Corsa or Ford Fiesta. The Mazda 2 has never been a better contender than now though, with five well-equipped trim levels and just a single engine, available with three outputs.
For this year, Mazda have added to their entry level model alloy wheels, heated power fold door mirrors and electric windows, whilst the mid-trim models have been treated to automatic lights, rear parking sensors, automatic wipers and climate control.
The top trim levels have received a rear spoiler and reversing camera, while across the range a few new colour options have been added, making that ordering process a little more challenging.
The line-up starts from £13,595 for an ‘SE+’ which gets you 15” alloy wheels, coming & leaving home lights, power folding heated door mirrors, black cloth trim, 60:40 split rear seats, remote central locking, full electric windows, air con and basic infotainment, but without DAB or Bluetooth.
An ‘SE-L+’ starts from £14,395 adding automatic wipers, automatic headlamps, LED front fog lights, rear parking sensors, leather steering wheel and gear knob, cruise control, climate control, Bluetooth, smart city brake support and lane departure warning.
Next up is the ‘SE-L Nav+’ which adds a 7-inch Navigation system and DAB Radio, it starts from £15,195 and for me, is the trim level to opt for.
For that sporting feel, a ‘Sport Nav+’ is available from £15,995 adding 16” gunmetal alloy wheels, privacy glass, dark grey front grill insert, smart key-less entry and sports seats.
Finally the ‘GT Sport Nav+’ will get you LED headlights with LED DRL as well as black leather seats with suede inserts and brown accents, and a reversing camera, all from £16,795.
Alongside the small updates throughout the range, one major change has been the removal of any diesel engine; instead the Mazda 2 comes with only the 1.5L petrol SKYACTIV-G power-train, with three power options.
A slightly under-powered 75ps unit, mated to a 5-speed manual ‘box produces 135Nm seeing a top speed of 106mph with zero-60mph in 12.1 sec, whilst what I expect will be the most popular engine provides 90ps with 148Nm, and is available with a 5-speed manual or 6-speed auto ‘box – Seeing zero-60mph 9.4 sec and 11.1 sec respectively.
Finally, a punchy 115ps version is on offer with a top speed of 124mpg and with 148nm, doesn’t feel sluggish, seeing zero-60mph in 8.7 sec via a 6-speed manual ‘box with a claimed mid-50’s mpg.
The Mazda 2 offers decent room inside for most owners needs, even rear room for a couple of adults is more than adequate and I can see the needs of a new-driver being easily fulfilled, with the school-run being a breeze for the busy parent.
The dash is well laid out with a screen placed in the centre that angles slightly towards the passenger rather than the driver. This screen is the hub of infotainment comprising on the test car of Sat Nav, BlueTooth, USB media input, CD/MP3, DAB Radio and the controls for which are situated down by the handbrake with various easily used knobs and buttons.
For a car of this size and affordable price I’m impressed with the sheer amount of technology, even to the extent of pop up notifications for SMS and e-mail on the screen with the option to read and reply (not advisable whilst driving I must add).
The materials used within the cabin have come a long way from previous generations and the Mazda 2 is well put together and solid throughout, without that old ‘plastic’ feel inside, it is still hard-wearing, just not as cheap feeling.
Driving wise, I must tip my hat to Mazda’s chassis department. They have really worked magic with the new generation of models – the ride is firm but very comfortable and cornering smooth and precise, with minimal effort and body roll.
I felt confident driving the car and trusted its predictable mannerisms like it was a much bigger, more grounded car. Around town, the Mazda 2 proves very light and nimble; however I did find rear visibility very restrictive due to the large C pillar and slightly restrictive to the side, via the B pillar.
For the model pictured and tested, thanks to Mazda UK, I got to grips with the 90ps engine paired to a 5-speed manual ‘box and it done the job nicely. Offering as much as anyone needs in a car of this type and when in a hurry, using the full rev-range meant I was never late.
The biggest surprise of all however was the real world combined MPG of 51 which is on par with a lot of large capacity modern diesels. This economy is thanks to Mazda’s ‘SKYACTIV’ technology.
In Mazda’s words, ‘SKYACTIV engines can compress the air-fuel mixture in the cylinders to an extraordinary degree, squeezing far more energy from every drop of fuel’. Sounds like snazzy marketing speak to me – but it works in the real world!
I reckon the Mazda 2 will become a much more popular little car and for good reason too. It’s well built, handles well, has decent performance, great economy, and is spacious inside.
This year, on top of the trim level updates across the range Mazda have introduced a limited number (500 units to be precise) of ‘Black+ Edition’ Mazda 2’s which start from £15,795 and come equipped with the 90ps engine.
Featuring 16-inch black alloy wheels, black rear roof spoiler, rear parking sensors, sat nav and climate control, the Black+ Edition not only looks great, but offers just the right equipment also.
With a 60,000 mile, 3-year warranty and renowned Japanese reliability – whats not to like?
Words & Photos: GRAHAM BAALHAM-CURRY
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