From £12,5407
Supermini gains mild hybrid engines and mild design revamp but faces stiff competition from Renault, Peugeot and Ford
James Attwood, digital editor
8 January 2020

What is it?

The current generation of Mazda 2 dates back to 2014 and, with its age beginning to show, the Japanese firm has in recent years attempted to extend the supermini’s life with a series of relatively minor updates.

Mazda has made a relatively substantial change for 2020, albeit one that is, quite literally, mild: it’s fitted a mild hybrid belt-integrated starter generator to bring a dash of electrification to aid the 1.5-litre petrol engine (which has been the sole powertrain option since last year).

There are a number of other changes, albeit ones that are mild in terms of execution. There are tweaks to the dampers and steering, in a bid to boost the 2’s already well-regarded driving dynamics, plus a few styling flourishes to bring it closer in line with newer models such as the Mazda 3.

But are a hint of electric power and a few minor tweaks enough to keep the 2 competitive in a class that's packed with newer rivals, such as the Ford Fiesta, Peugeot 208Renault Clio and Seat Ibiza? 

What's it like?

You wouldn’t exactly call the 2's restyling a radical reinvention, but that’s no bad thing to this tester’s eyes: it’s remains a pleasingly clean and clear design. 

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The descriptor 'clean and clear' can also be applied to the interior of our Sport Nav-spec test car. For those used to the larger touchscreens and ergonomic features of newer cars, there’s a slightly retro feel about it (the infotainment system still includes an actual CD player, for example), and that’s not actually a bad thing. The controls are well placed and easy to use, all-round visiblity is great and the interior is comfortable and relatively spacious.

The dashboard-mounted 7.0in touchscreen isn’t the largest in class, but the infotainment works well, and there’s Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, allowing those who forgot to pack their CD wallets to stream music through their smartphones and so on.

The Mazda M Hybrid system utilises a belt-integrated starter generator that can capture kinetic energy from regenerative braking, which is then used to boost the efficiency of the engine. Because it’s a small unit, the output of the 1.5-litre engine is unchanged, with either 74bhp or, as in the case of our test car, 89bhp. 

The system doesn’t make a dramatic difference to the driving experience, with its influence mostly felt in quiet and smooth low-speed acceleration. It adds extra refinement to the engine, which offers decent performance in a car of this size. The main benefit is in fuel economy and emissions: Mazda cites WLTP figures of 53.5mpg and 94g/km CO2 emissions for the 89bhp engine. That seems realistic, because we averaged close to 50mpg during our test.

That said, the powerplant is somewhat hamstrung by the six-speed manual gearbox through which power is sent. Its gearing is so long that that frequent shifts are required to gain access to the engine’s power, and even on motorways there’s little need to trouble sixth; in fact, try to accelerate at A-road speeds and you’ll occasionally need to drop to fourth.

It’s a shame, because it makes it harder to both engage with the powertrain and, in turn, enjoy the decent ride and strong handling dynamics that the 2’s well-honed chassis continues to offer.

Should I buy one?

There's much to like about the 2. While it can’t match newer rivals for sheen, it’s unpretentious, likeable, immensely usable and refreshingly simple, while offering both decent handling and efficiency.

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Unfortunately, the benefits of the mild hybrid engine are hamstrung by the gearbox to which it's attached, while the £17,495 list price of our test car is uncomfortably close to those of newer, more polished rivals.

Mazda 2 1.5 Skyactiv-G Sport Nav specification

Where Somerset, UK Price £17,495 On sale now Engine 4 cyls in line, 1496cc petrol Power 89bhp at 6000rpm Torque 109lb ft at 4000rpm Gearbox 6-spd manual Kerb weight 1141kg Top speed 114mph 0-62mph 9.7sec Fuel economy 53.3mpg CO2 94g/km Rivals Ford Fiesta, Seat Ibiza

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Comments
11

8 January 2020
It's always been one of my favourite superminis and still is, it doesn't look dated or old hat to my eyes and I like na engines and Mazda's have always been free revving and smooth.

8 January 2020
It's always been one of my favourite superminis and still is, it doesn't look dated or old hat to my eyes and I like na engines and Mazda's have always been free revving and smooth.

8 January 2020
Sorry, can't understand why that posted twice

8 January 2020

Recently went shopping for a friend on all cars within this sector. The last model 'GT Sport Nav' (i think) has pretty much all the changes from this model, minus the dead weight 'mild hybrid system'. It includes all the tech here and the LED front and tail lights. 

Instead it has that same 1.5 engine from the MX-5, but with a zingy 115 bhp and a class leading interior which ultimately took home the prize. All the interior surfaces were great to the touch with nice bits of leather trim dotted about the place. We felt the competitors were 'plasticy' by comparison.

 

If you want this car, look no further than the previous model for more power and a less complicated 'emissions special' drivetrain. My friend loves his to bits.

8 January 2020
flukey wrote:

Recently went shopping for a friend on all cars within this sector. The last model 'GT Sport Nav' (i think) has pretty much all the changes from this model, minus the dead weight 'mild hybrid system'. It includes all the tech here and the LED front and tail lights. 

Instead it has that same 1.5 engine from the MX-5, but with a zingy 115 bhp and a class leading interior which ultimately took home the prize. All the interior surfaces were great to the touch with nice bits of leather trim dotted about the place. We felt the competitors were 'plasticy' by comparison.

 

If you want this car, look no further than the previous model for more power and a less complicated 'emissions special' drivetrain. My friend loves his to bits.

I'll add, a zingy 115bhp 4-cyl rev-happy naturally aspirated engine. Forget the modern 3 banger turbo that's mapped for low end torque and that's about it. It's a lovely engine and gearbox on that one. 

8 January 2020
My girlfriend has the previous model, upon which this current shape was based. Zippy, revvy little engine, light-footed adjustable handling, zips through roundabouts, snappy gear change... Just a fun, practical, stylish, affordable car.

8 January 2020

The extra cost of a battery and more powerful starter motor arrangement to gain an extra mpg (was this acchived by the gearing?) or so is surely negated by the extra cost, complexity and weight disadvantages. Especially in the case of a small cheap car that's used lightly by the majority of owners.

To give a more accurate gauge of the advantages we need to know if there was an increase in price.

And "even on motorways there’s little need to trouble sixth" if not then when?

8 January 2020

But ...its all done to meet new EU regs. The 94g/km figure is the most significant statistic of all. No mega million fines for Mazda on this model. Forget the driving experience.being worse than the old engine. Many more similar changes to come across the board. 

8 January 2020
+1 for the previous GT model. Delightful little thing, outrageous fun at licence-keeping speeds.

8 January 2020

My 2 Sport Nav with the 115bhp engine is the first Mazda I ever owned and its brilliant with a roomy interior,  nice toys, great performance, handling and 50mpg.   Sadly now they have dropped the 115 it will be my last 2 if they dont create a Skyactive X for it.  I may consider the 3 skyactive X next time.

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