The previous Mazda 2 probably deserved more attention than it got in the UK, even if it was because it was ahuge improvement on the boxy first generation. The supermini segment is a tough nut to crack, but being good to drive, decently practical and very pretty really ought to be enough.

But, much like being William Baldwin when Alec is available, the 2 turned out not to be the sibling people wanted. Instead, the Ford Fiesta, with the same co-developed platform and similar body, reaped all the glory, becoming Britain’s most popular car and the long-term class leader.

Now there’s a new-generation 2, its transformation symbolic of Mazda’s maverick choice of direction since its partnership with Ford came to an end in 2008. Mazda makes much of this 2’s Skyactiv technology and Kodo styling, unfortunate jargon that actually signifies plenty.

The Skyactiv philosophy – Mazda’s umbrella term for reducing the kerb weight and sourcing greater powertrain efficiency – has been instrumental in the new 2’s development. Mazda claims that it “aimed to shatter all notions of the class” when it came to remake the 2, which is its way of saying that the model, like many of its rivals, has been scaled up and moved upmarket.

Consequently, it is a little bigger. The new platform, shared with the CX-3, upgrades the 2 from dinky runaround to a more substantial-looking five-door hatch. The three-door version is no more. Mazda also says the refinement, handling and equipment have all been enhanced.

Buyers choose from either petrol or diesel versions of the Skyactiv 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine and, in the UK, from a trim line-up that starts at £12,495 for an SE and ends at £17,395 for a diesel Sport Nav.

We’ve stayed faithful to the middle and tested a mid-range petrol SE-L Nav, which, at £13,995, probably represents the 2’s best chance of finally putting its sibling rivalry to bed.

Top 5 Superminis

  • Ford Fiesta
    Fiestas sold in Europe are ostensibly the same as those sold in America and Asia

    Ford Fiesta

    1
  • Mini Cooper
    Its various improvements make the new Mini more desirable and practical than ever before

    Mini Cooper

    2
  • The Mazda 2
    The Mazda 2 name dates back to 2002. This latest version showcases the firm's Skyactiv technology and 'Kodo' styling

    Mazda 2

    3
  • Volkswagen Polo

    Volkswagen Polo

    4
  • Renault Clio
    Distinctive styling details are taken from the showstopping Renault Dezir concept car

    Renault Clio

    5

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