Mazda 2 – Review
by Liam Bird
Before we start, let’s get something out of the way first: Despite what some people might still insist on telling you, the Mazda 2 is no-longer a Ford Fiesta with a different badge. Without going into too much detail, Mazda disassociated itself with Ford some time ago. And, from where I’ve been sitting for more or less the last week, that particular decision feels like it was a good one. Right, now that particular automotive elephant is well and truly out of the room, shall we get on with the review?
The all-new 2 is Mazda’s latest entry in the fiercely fought battle ground that is the super-mini market place. New from the ground up, it’s available only as a five-door hatch and, from the front at least, it’s unmistakably a Mazda. It looks like a smaller, almost boil-washed version of their 3, or the altogether bigger 6 saloon. I hasten to add that is, indeed, no bad thing.
“Intuitive and functional”
In the metal it’s rather attractive. Mazda’s KODO design philosophy blends flowing curves and heavily-sculpted panels in such a way that the end result is the Mazda 2 is probably one of the most distinctive and, some might say, refreshing cars in its class. Whether the rounded rear is the perfect accompaniment for the altogether more angular styled nose is a matter of opinion but, that said, I’m pretty sure Mazda’s designers know their stuff far better than I ever will. It’s certainly a welcome relief from what is fast becoming the amorphous super-mini norm.
It’s a shame then that Mazda have blessed their new baby with quite a dull interior; if only they’d given it a bit more sparkle. In range-topping Sport Nav spec (as driven) it is undoubtedly well appointed. There’s Bluetooth, aircon, heated and folding mirrors, 7 inch touch-screen sat-nav with I-drive-esque control that has the ability to interact with your smart phone apps. There’s lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring and low speed auto braking. Things are also both intuitively and functionally laid out.
But, there’s nothing – not even the red stripe on the seats, the Audi TT-like aluminium heater controls (well, they look like aluminium at least) or even the head–up display – to really make it feel memorable. OK, so there’s a centrally mounted rev-counter complete with digital speedo. The steering wheel and indicator stalks are straight out of the MX-5. But, ultimately though, this cabin won’t set you heart racing. Neither, sadly, do some of the materials feel as classy or as durable those of some of the 2’s more European competitors. You’ll find the rear doors shut with a somewhat tinny clang, rather than a more reassuring solid sounding clunk.
Thankfully the 2 drives rather nicely – very nicely in fact. Not so long ago 113 bhp and a 0.62mph time of 8.7 seconds were the stuff of hot-hatches rather than just everyday ones. As such the Mazda 2, although probably not the fastest thing to leave the traffic lights, does feel sprightly enough to keep you entertained. The steering is light and direct, the snappy short-throw gear-shift – a welcome Mazda trademark if ever there was one – adds a touch of, dare I say… sportiness. And as long as you keep the 1.5 litre engine between 2000 and 4500 rpm there’s sufficient zest and agility. This is due to Mazda keeping the 2’s overall weight down so you can keep up with the morning traffic without having to resort to working things unnecessarily hard. A claimed 56.5mpg, although perhaps not class-leading anymore, was once the stuff of dreams too.
So, the 2 proves frugal, but it’s also rather comfy. The driving position is multi-adjustable. Both steering column and the supportive seat move in all directions. The suspension, said to be slightly firm by some of my passengers, feels well controlled. As for refinement, there is a fair bit of tyre rumble at motorway speeds. And there is some wind noise from around the windscreen and wing mirrors. But when all is said and done the Mazda 2 is a super-mini first, and a cross-continental cruiser a long distance second. Around town – arguably the 2’s natural habitat – you’ll hardly notice a thing.
It’s not without a few faults. But then name me a car that isn’t The sat-nav’s operation is quite simply infuriating to all but the truly technical. But overall the new Mazda 2 turns out to be a rather pleasing addition to the super-mini market place. If you consider a Polo a little too sensible, a Fabia a tad too practical, and a Fiesta… well lets face it everyone’s got one of those, then the Mazda 2 might well be right up your city street.
Mazda 2 1.5 115ps Sport Nav + SP
Engine: 1,496cc, 4Cyl, DOHC 16V petrol
Transmission: 6 speed manual Front Wheel Drive
Power: 113 bhp (115ps) @ 6000rpm
Torque: 110 lbft @4000 rpm
0-62mph: 8.7 sec
Max Speed: 124 mph
MPG: 56.5 combined
VED Band: C
Price: from £16,295