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.