At the crux of the third generation 2’s new look is the distance between the front axle and the base of the A-pillars.
Whereas the previous model favoured something more akin to a monocab profile that apparently brought those two elements closer together, here Mazda has moved the front axle 80mm forwards and the pillars 80mm back.
The result, when considered alongside the high shoulder line, wider track and signature grille, shifts the 2 closer in look to the Mazda 3 above it.
Like the 3, it uses Mazda’s Skyactiv platform. This increases the high-strength steel proportion by 12% and ultra-high-tensile steel now makes up 30% of the total structure. As a result, the 2 is not only 22% stiffer than the model it replaces but also 7% lighter, despite being larger.
The suspension is MacPherson struts at the front and a rear torsion beam, very much the supermini norm, but Mazda has increased castor angle at the front wheels to improve steering response and raised the mounting of the twist beam at the rear to better handle impacts. The steering ratio has also been slightly quickened and its mounts adjusted.
Mazda is also keen to highlight the level of attention paid to refinement. Among the solutions are improved floor panel beads for 5dB less radiant cabin noise, a separation of suspension resonance from that of the body cavity, the wind noise-suppressing design of the door mirrors and wipers, and the optimisation of powertrain mounts.
The engines on the end of those fixings are of a fixed displacement. Both petrol and diesel units come as 1.5-litre variants, although the diesel is inevitably turbocharged. A relative of Mazda’s 2.2-litre Skyactiv-D, the 1.5-litre diesel gets a new combustion chamber and fuel injection system, together with a single variable-vane turbo. It develops 104bhp, impressive when you consider that it comes with CO2 emissions as low as 89g/km.
The petrol motor, certain to be more popular, is available with 74bhp, 89bhp (as driven here) or 113bhp outputs. The least powerful version does without the complicated 4-2-1 exhaust manifold and the unusually high compression ratio that comes with it. The 113bhp petrol and the diesel get a six-speed manual gearbox.
The remaining 89bhp model features a five-speed gearbox as standard, but it may be twinned with a lightened six-speed automatic if you wish.