What is it?
The all-new Mazda 2; a bigger, plusher supermini built to fill out its manufacturer’s ambitions towards Volkswagen-style status. The previous car, the one you’ll have been mistaking for a Fiesta for the past seven years, was a chip off Ford’s block; small, switch-blade sharp and arguably a little bleak inside.
We liked it. The fourth generation, though, ditches the elfin attitude for something rather more substantial. Now a five-door model only, with a considerably longer wheelbase and bigger boot, the 2 has been transformed into a respectable five-seat hatchback. Although not conventional in Mazda’s book; the designers having shifted the A pillars 80mm rearwards for proportions that apparently contradict the class norm.
Perhaps. But the 2 is only modestly handsome; being slightly under-wheeled and looking for all the world like a scaled down Mazda 3 in the flesh. Underneath it shares in its sibling’s guiding principles, being another recipient of the manufacturer’s far-reaching SkyActiv technology.
Thus, despite being noticeably larger, it is practically no heavier, and, thanks to the greater proportion of high tensile steel in its belly, significantly stiffer.
There’s a choice of two four-cylinder engines; a 1.5-litre diesel and a 1.5-litre petrol. The latter is offered in three power outputs; 74bhp, 89bhp and 114bhp, while the smoker comes solely as an all-new 104bhp option - capable of claimed 83mpg and 89g/km CO2 emissions.
Serious numbers, and delivered – once again – by Mazda’s seemingly superior attention to engineering detail. The diesel shares some of the SkyActiv tech used on the recent (and exceptional) 2.2-litre engine, or else downscales it for use in a smaller package. Hence there is the same ultra-low compression ratio and a great emphasis on thermal efficiency.
As standard there are both five and six-speed manual gearboxes, while an (untried) updated and lightened conventional auto takes on the slusher duties.
We drove pre-production cars (the 2 doesn’t launch in the UK until the spring) in predictably well-equipped format. Mazda won’t be drawn on UK spec yet, but the infotainment screen is expected to be standard fair and there’s a small heap of new safety tech, including lane assist and blind spot monitoring.