First DriveAn early drive in this range-extender version of the Mazda 2 EV reveals an enticing proposition
First DriveIt’s a great car that offers excellent value but auto gearbox wouldn’t be our choice
What is it?
The new Mazda 2, and it’s a clever car. That’s not to say that it is particularly technologically advanced; it’s not. But that’s exactly what’s clever about it.
The 2 eschews complicated and expensive techno-fads like aluminium construction or hybrid powertrains. It is made of steel, and uses conventional powertrains. Instead, Mazda has been almost fanatical about weight saving. The result is a car that is 100kg lighter than its predecessor and emits just 114g/km of CO2.
It saves a cool 131kg over the Peugeot 207 1.4HDi, which uses a near-identical engine. But only near-identical - the Mazda 2 gets unique throttle mapping and Mazda engineers set the 2’s peak torque curve a little higher than the Peugeot’s (2000rpm versus 1750rpm). The result is a smoother, more linear power delivery. In fact, you’d barely know you were in a turbocharged car. But this isn’t necessarily a good thing. Somehow, the Mazda takes 15.5sec to reach 62mph, while the porky Peugeot does it in 15.1sec.
What’s it like?
On the road the car feels eager, grips well and has direct - if a little springy-feeling - steering. But the biggest surprise dynamically is the ride. Over lumps and bumps the suspension feels taught and controlled, but never harsh - much like the best European hatches.
It’s pretty too, with a skin-stretched-over-sinew shape that reflects its compact dimensions and Mazda’s no-waste philosophy. Of course, the downside of that is that it does feel a little more cramped inside than its rivals - particularly in the rear, where headroom is restrictive for taller passengers.
Should I buy one?
Why not. The new 2 is a likeable car. It’s certainly well liked in Japan, where people have bought 15,000 in its first full month of sales - three times as many as expected. It deserves to do just as well over here.