From £12,5408
If it can better the old model, the new Mazda 2 has the potential to unseat the established leaders of the supermini pack
10 December 2014

What is it?

Another supermini contender, in a year that has been full to bursting with them. There's a lot of potential in the new Mazda 2, and we've now driven it on UK roads.

A longer wheelbase with shorter overhangs and more liberal use of high-tensile steels to keep weight down while increasing torsional rigidity by a whopping 22 per cent all promise something of the frothy handling that made the old 2 such a firm favourite.

There are also now five doors as standard, while the interior has been spruced up with a new colour touchscreen forming the focal point of the cabin on all but the entry-level trim.

Ride comfort is supposedly improved, too, and the new 89bhp 1.5-litre SkyActiv petrol model tested here (which is also available in 74bhp and 113bhp outputs, alongside a new 1.5 diesel) promises a great balance between fun and frugality.

What's it like?

Perhaps Mazda’s philosophical talk of ‘driver and car as one’ got our hopes up, but the 2 doesn’t quite live up to expectations in terms of the handling.

The steering is meaty and sharp when it’s weighted up mid-corner, so it’s easy to place the car precisely on the road, but it’s light and vague around the dead-ahead. That vagueness makes the 2 feel prone to wandering around a little at high speeds and gives an inconsistent to the steering. 

The Ford Fiesta remains the handling benchmark for superminis, then, but that’s not to say there isn’t a bit of ‘oneness’ to the way the 2 drives. Turn-in is sharp, there’s decent grip and taut body control, all of which means that flinging the 2 about with vigour will bring a smile to your face rather than the understeer-induced grimace that you’d be wearing in plenty of its rivals.

The engine enhances the fun factor. The naturally aspirated 1.5 drives through a positive-shifting manual gearbox and really encourages you to wring the last rev out of it if the fancy takes you. However, it doesn’t pull from low revs with the verve that you’ll enjoy in the turbocharged engines elsewhere in this class, and the Mazda makes a proper racket at higher revs, which in turn means that it’s buzzy on the motorway. 

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Ride comfort is improved over the old car. You’ll feel a fair few tremors and the odd harsh thump in the cabin over patched-up town roads, but the damping softens the worst bumps and it’s settled at high speeds. 

Perhaps the biggest step forward is the cabin, which previously traded in scratchy plastics and some seemingly 1990s Casio-inspired readouts. Now you get a smattering of contrasting materials, including the odd gloss plastic and metal-effect insert, a simple, easy-to-read speedo and a seven-inch colour touchscreen.

It all feels quite grown-up and easy to use, provided you stick to using the rotary controller for the infotainment screen, given that you have to poke the touchscreen with alarming force to illicit a response. Its software also looks a bit half-finished because not all of the homescreen icons fit within the confines of the display. 

Still, the screen really brightens up the interior, and on SE-L trim you get DAB radio, Bluetooth and a USB input, and you can add sat-nav for £400 should you wish. It’s well equipped elsewhere, too, with climate and cruise controls, heated and electrically adjustable door mirrors, a leather steering wheel with audio controls and a lane departure warning system.

There’s a bit less room in the rear cabin and in the boot of compared to some rivals, notably the Volkswagen Polo and new Skoda Fabia, but with 60/40 split rear seats as standard, it’ll be more than fit for purpose for most supermini users.

Should I buy one?

There are plenty of reasons why you should, yes.

If you like the 2’s combination of swoopy, well proportioned looks, generous kit, encouraging dynamics and low running costs (we managed an impressive 50mpg in a varied real-world run), you'll probably love it. It's certainly a lot less dreary and pious-feeling than plenty of other small cars. 

Having said that, it’s a shame the list price isn’t lower, as the 2 does look a touch pricey next to the obvious rivals.The relatively poor refinement can be wearing out of town, too.

Without these issues, and if the handling stakes were high enough to rival the seemingly unbeatable agility of the Fiesta, the Mazda 2 could be a world-beating thing.

As it is, it’s one of the best, but it’s not quite king of the supermini hill. 

Mazda 2 SkyActiv-G 1.5 90 SE-L

Price £13,995 0-62mph 9.4sec Top speed 114mph Economy 62.8mpg CO2 105g/km Kerb weight 1050kg Engine 4 cyls, 1496cc, petrolPower 89bhp at 6000rpm Torque 109lb ft at 4000rpm Gearbox 5-spd manual

 

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Carmad3 17 December 2014

Mazda Design

What drugs are the Mazda designers on. Their latest crop of cars are the ugliest I have ever seen
Einarbb 12 December 2014

Sure turbos tended to be short lived . . .

. . . you neglect however that a turbo engine is operating under a stress from the turbo-charging itself, by squeezing more power out of an engine, your are putting components under tremendous stress. Not the same stress as from a high reeving engine. Call it pressure. Even so, only time will tell about the longevity of those stressed components. But my money is on that the Mazda engine will outlive an average 1l. turbo by a margin. How large only time will tell. And moreover be more economical to boot. But it's not just the ford engine, it's also that 2cyl. 800cc Fiat engine which has got a disappointing economy.
hardshoulder 12 December 2014

Einarbb wrote:. . . you

Einarbb wrote:

. . . you neglect however that a turbo engine is operating under a stress from the turbo-charging itself, by squeezing more power out of an engine, your are putting components under tremendous stress. Not the same stress as from a high reeving engine. Call it pressure. Even so, only time will tell about the longevity of those stressed components. But my money is on that the Mazda engine will outlive an average 1l. turbo by a margin. How large only time will tell. And moreover be more economical to boot. But it's not just the ford engine, it's also that 2cyl. 800cc Fiat engine which has got a disappointing economy.

Given Mazda's track record on building engines you'd probably be right but not because of the turbocharging the extra stresses you mentioned can easily be counteracted when the engine is purposefully designed to take that extra pressure, and both of the engines you've mentioned were designed from the outset to be turbocharged and neither is producing a particularly high specific output for a forced induction engine. However I must agree with you on the real world economy, the Mazda will use less fuel at the pumps even if it doesn't on some official statistic. This is of course due to Ford and Fiat (and others for sure) chasing low Euro official CO2 outputs whilst trying to make the engine appealing in its power delivery and not caring about how much fuel it uses in the real world

xxxx 11 December 2014

Sorry pal but..

no need to be sorry just be right. I said "nearly in it's 8th year". Released in 2008 so it's 08,09,10,11,12,13,14 so 2015 means "nearly in it's 8th year" :-)

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