Mazda’s impressive model launch offensive continues with the Mazda2 – its all-important, all-new supermini.
With the latest incarnation of the iconic MX-5 and new CX-3 compact SUV still come, it’s a big year for Mazda, and first off is the Mazda2.
Not only is it attractive, but it’s also distinctive, just like its bigger brothers – the 3 and 6 – and its upcoming siblings.
But it needs more than just good looks if it’s to snatch sales from its No 1 competitor and Britain’s bestselling car, the Ford Fiesta, along with numerous other rivals including the Skoda Fabia, VW Polo and Vauxhall Corsa.
Thankfully, it’s not just eye candy, the Mazda2 is a great all-round package.
Making the most of Mazda’s KODO lightweight design and utilising a range of petrol and diesel engines, the Mazda2 is able to deliver a winning combination of practicality, economy and entertainment.
Externally the new Mazda2 dares to be different with a profile that is definitely fresh, sharp and stylish, though it’s more evolutionary from the rear.
Arguably Mazda’s been a little conservative when it comes to personalisation options compared to its competitors. A rear spoiler, subtle decals and a rear skirt are available, but we’re hardly talking different coloured roofs and funky interior colours.
Inside there’s an air of quality with a definite sporty feel. Owing a lot to the interior design of the Mazda3, it’s modern with a 7-inch infotainment screen in the centre console that can be activated via touch or a large dial in front of the gear selector as seen on larger, more luxurious cars.
The seating position is comfortable, if fairly high, and the dashboard is dominated by a large speedo. Go for the top spec Sport Nav version and your get the heads-up display on the binnacle just beyond the steering wheel which features essential driving info such as your speed. Again, as seen on the Mazda3.
There’s average space in the rear and the boot is a handy 280 litres. However, the back seats do not fold down 100% flat and the boot has a high lip.
There’s a series of 1.5-litre different powered SKYACTIVE petrol and diesel engines available and Mazda believes the majority of people will choose the 89bhp petrol unit.
I tried this and the 114bhp diesel and for me the latter was the more impressive of the two with good refinement and plenty of torque.
However, the diesel option will put another £2,000 on the sticker price. That said, it is capable of 83.1mpg with low CO2 emissions of 88g/km, making it tax free and cheaper at the pumps. It also has a slick and addictive six-speed manual gearbox, while the petrol version has to make do with five gears.
If you’re driving long distances including motorways then the diesel is probably your best option, otherwise the petrol will do just fine, though it’s not quite as lively and economy will drop to a claimed 62.8mpg with emissions of 105g/km.
Whichever engine you choose, the Mazda2 is a rewarding car to drive with a fairly firm ride, short on body roll and plenty of grip, while the steering is light and responsive.
The 16-strong Mazda2 line-up is priced from £11,995 – £17,395 which means the 2 is not the cheapest supermini out there, but it is well equipped, well made and has a premium feel.
Summary. The new Mazda2 is a class act – a distinctive driver’s’ car offering a good balance of economy, fun and quality.