20 December 2014
It’s mid-life refresh time for the Mazda2, which now comes with a subtly restyled front bumper to incorporate revised foglights. There are also new alloy wheels and some poshed-up trim inside, but the most important change is one you cannot see: revised suspension. New settings and an even stiffer bodyshell work wonders to address what was arguably the biggest hurdle to recommending the Mazda over its key rivals.
The engines in the Mazda2 have been very lightly revised as part of the update, so economy and emissions are fractionally improved. Starting point is the 74bhp 1.3-litre petrol engine that is reasonable but if you can stretch the budget to buy the 83bhp version, you’d be best of doing so. With identical economy to the less powerful 1.3, the 83bhp unit feels peppy and willing, if a little rowdy when pressed at higher revs. A snickety five-speed manual is shared with the other engines in the line-up, though the 101bhp 1.5-litre petrol can also be ordered with a four-speed automatic. The 1.5 petrol is zippier, covering 0-62mph in 10.7 seconds to the 1.3’s 13.6 seconds, but we prefer the smaller unit as it seems to suit the Mazda2’s feisty nature better. There’s also a 1.6-litre turbodiesel serving up 94bhp and 0-62mph in 11.5 seconds. It’s a sound bet for anyone cover long distances, but as most supermini buyers don’t it’s hard to justify the extra expense of this motor unless you’re a company driver impressed by its 110g/km carbon dioxide emissions.
Until now, the Mazda2’s ride has best been described as erring on the sporting side. For many, this has meant plain old uncomfortable and with it there has been degradation in refinement. Not now, as Mazda’s small changes to the suspension set-up have reaped major benefits in the way the 2 copes with lumpen roads. Where it used to jolt, it now glides and feels every bit as able as a Ford Fiesta. This is very high praise and the Mazda also retains its superb handling balance. It’s not burdened with excessive grip, instead there’s plenty of cornering traction for safe driving in all conditions but keen drivers can use the car’s agility and poise to full effect for many smiles per hour. The revised engines are a touch quieter, but the Mazda2 is still noisier than a Fiesta or VW Polo.
We have no qualms in recommending the Mazda2 as one of the best built and most reliable cars in its sector. Mazda’s attention to detail in every area is legendary and it pays off in the way these cars simply keep on going without trouble or irritation for their entire lives. All of the materials used are strong and durable, even if the interior plastics are not as attractive to look at as in some rivals’.
The Mazda2 drops a couple of stars in its rating here as only the automatic gearbox-equipped 1.5 and Sport models come with ESP traction and stability control and side and curtain airbags. The rest do without, which is a shame for customers looking to increase their safety margin in an accident. Anti-lock brakes are, of course, standard across the range, as are Isofix child seat mounts. Security is catered for much better with an alarm, deadlocks and immobiliser for all Mazda2 variants.
Available in three- and five-door forms, the Mazda2 is decent for space and can cope with four adult passengers when asked. Access to the rear of the five-door could be a little better as the rear doors don’t open quite as wide as we’d like. Still, there’s good head and leg room, a boot that is on a par with most rivals’ and 60/40 split and tip rear seat backs to extend the load capacity to a generous 787-litres from the standard boot’s 250-litres. The driver gets the best deal in the Mazda2 as the seat is supportive, though the steering wheel only adjusts for height. Even so, the all-round vision is excellent and the simple, stylish dash easy to navigate around even for a newcomer to the car. With the gear lever mounted high in the centre console, the Mazda2 quickly instils confidence in town or when parking, and it also frees up a little more space for the driver and front passenger’s legs.
The pair of 1.3-litre petrol engines manages 55.4mpg combined economy to be among the best in their class, while the 1.5 petrol registers 48.7mpg. Even better is the 1.6 turbodiesel at 67.3mpg, though its higher list price means this model is reserved really for high mileage drivers who place fuel consumption above all other demands. The 1.3-litre petrols give 119g/km carbon dioxide emissions to be cost-effective, while the 1.5 emits 135g/km to be merely average for its class. The 1.5 automatic pushes this up to 146g/km to be high for a supermini, while the 1.6-litre turbodiesel offers 110g/km CO2 emissions for full first year write down for business users. We’d avoid the entry level TS trim unless on a very tight budget. It includes air conditioning, electric front windows and CD stereo, but the TS2 models gain side and curtain airbags, alloy wheels and ESP traction and stability control. The Tamura model has 16in alloy wheels, side skirts, rear spoiler and sports headlights, leaving the Sport model to add front foglights, climate control, Sports interior trim and cruise control.
Submitted: 04/02/2011 13:37:59
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