From £12,5408
New Mazda supermini is a fine all-rounder, and engaging to drive with range-topping petrol power

Our Verdict

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

Mazda's Skyactiv tech revolution transforms its cheapest model

Mark Tisshaw
3 February 2015

What is it?

Early drives in the all-new Mazda 2 have revealed it to be a very fine supermini indeed, but not quite a class-leading one - the seemingly unstoppable Ford Fiesta entering a seventh year as leader of the class.

Ahead of the new 2’s imminent UK launch, we’ve now had a chance to sample another, more potent flavour of it, those earlier drives having been limited to the mid-range 89bhp 1.5-litre petrol version.

That normally aspirated engine is also offered with an entry-level output of 74bhp or the range-topping 113bhp tested here, the more powerful one promising to give the 2 the extra bit of fun factor needed to topple the Fiesta. A 1.5-litre Skyactiv diesel is also offered, but we haven't yet tried it. 

What's it like?

The range-topping engine goads you to rev it to access the performance, making it entertaining if you can keep the momentum going. The engine is mated to one of the slickest manual gearboxes in the class, the six-speed unit encouraging positive shifts. Drive it at lower revs and it’s altogether much smoother and more relaxing.

The 2 is therefore a car that feels good to drive, not only because of its positive powertrain, but also because its steering is well weighted and allows the car to be accurately placed on the road. Turn-in is sharp and the ride comfortable; it gets the basics right, in other words, which is not something that can be said for all rivals. 

The drivetrain suffers the same problems as the lower-powered versions, mind, namely little low-end torque and overly long gearing, which makes getting anywhere in a hurry a real effort. The flipside to that willingness to be pushed is that the engine can be surprisingly vocal, while at faster motorway speeds engine noise never settles into the background. 

Mazda is keen to emphasise its strategy of "rightsizing the engine rather than downsizing", which has its benefits, with real-world economy in the early 50s, for example. However, you can’t help but miss that extra zest, charm and better low-end shove Ford's three-cylinder turbo Ecoboost provides. Stick one of these in the 2 and I’ve a sneaky suspicion the 2 would shift from good to drive to fun to drive, and really give the Fiesta something to worry about. 

The 2's interior is a huge improvement over the old car’s in design and perceived quality and has an infotainment screen that is controlled by a rotary knob next to the handbrake.

The sat-nav provides some of the clearest mapping out there and clear spoken instructions that won’t leave you reaching for the mute button. More evidence of the basics being done well.

Should I buy one?

This range-topping Mazda 2 has plenty going for it, then. It’s a true all-rounder in the class and is likely to be a fine car to own, albeit pricey in this guise next to its equivalent key rivals.

The Fiesta remains the best car to drive in the class, but the 2 deserves to be at the top of your supermini shopping list. 

Mazda 2 1.5 115ps Sport Nav

Price £15,995; Engine 4 cyls, 1496cc, petrol; Power 113bhp at 6000rpm; Torque 109lb ft at 4000rpm; Gearbox 5-spd manual; Kerb weight 1055kg; Top speed 124mph; 0-62mph 8.7sec; Economy 56.5mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 117g/km, 16%

Join the debate

Comments
6

3 February 2015
I used to quite like the Mazda 2; not enough to buy one, obviously. But this is a terrible restyle, a bit like the abomination FIAT did to the beautiful Giugiaro original. And let's not the continuing down-scaling detestation that is the Alfa Mito.

Anyway, on to the main news. What is happening to the Autocar website? Anything? Are you waiting for this month's cheque from VW before getting the web guys to fix it? Or are we still awaiting the new paywall version to filter out the riff-raff?

  • If you want to know about a car, read a forum dedicated to it; that's a real 'long term test' . No manufacturer's warranty, no fleet managers servicing deals, no journalist's name to oil the wheels...

4 February 2015
I think it looks ok, if a bit 'snouty'. I dont particularly like Mazda's current grille design, its ok on the 6, but I don't think it does the 2, 3, or CX5 any favours. I wonder if they'll be doing a 3-door version of this?

4 February 2015
"The engine is mated to one of the slickest manual gearboxes in the class, the six-speed unit encouraging positive shifts." - "The drivetrain suffers the same problems as the lower-powered versions, mind, namely little low-end torque and overly long gearing, which makes getting anywhere in a hurry a real effort." - - > Yet, he admitted the gear-box is slick shifting. So why is it an effort, to change down a gear or two? It doesn't appear to harm the fuel economy given the 50mpgl plus achieved. Actually quite a bit superior economy to the ford 1.0l triple.

4 February 2015
Just to bland for my liking. The Fiesta is in it's eighth year and still looks more modern on the outside, the Fiesta it just needs another facelift to update the inside. Also the SOFTWARE for Sat Nav on models without it is £600, as of 6 months ago and maybve now this was more than Audi charge.

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

6 February 2015
xxxx wrote:

Just to bland for my liking. The Fiesta is in it's eighth year and still looks more modern on the outside, the Fiesta it just needs another facelift to update the inside.

Ford have said recently that the Fiesta replacement is due in another two and a half years, so maybe it will stay as it is now. I agree about the interior: I think they should have tinkered with the dashboard design when they did the exterior 'lift, but sounds like they won't bother now.

9 March 2015
....but I'm not sure why Mazda choose to only offer the saftey pack on the top petrol engined model. Surely it should be an option across the full range. They have done the same for all their other models. As strange sales strategy if you ask me. Not all customers want the top spec model, but do want some of the safety features.

"Why is http://www.nanoflowcell.com not getting more media attention? It could be the future... Now!"

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Jaguar XF Sportbrake TDV6
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The handsome Jaguar XF Sportbrake exhibits all the hallmarks that makes the saloon great, and with the silky smooth diesel V6 makes it a compelling choice
  • Volkswagen T-Roc TDI
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    Volkswagen's new compact crossover has the looks, the engineering and the build quality to be a resounding success, but not with this diesel engine
  • BMW M550i
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The all-paw M550i is a fast, effortless mile-muncher, but there's a reason why it won't be sold in the UK
  • Volvo V90
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The Volvo V90 is a big estate ploughing its own furrow. We’re about to see if it is refreshing or misguided
  • Kia Stonic
    First Drive
    18 October 2017
    Handsome entrant into the bulging small crossover market has a strong engine and agile handling, but isn’t as comfortable or complete as rivals