Mazda 2 – 2015 – Review

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Over one in every five cars sold in Europe is a supermini, plus the Ford Fiesta has been the best-selling new model in the UK for the past five years, so it’s little wonder that Mazda has high hopes for its all-new 2. Since the CX-5 arrived in 2012, followed by the 6 and 3, Mazda has struck a rich vein of form for producing mainstream cars that look great and drive brilliantly. So could the 2 really knock the Fiesta off its perch? Whichever way you look at it, the Mazda 2 is new in every department. The wheelbase has been stretched by 80mm to unlock some more interior space, the electric steering is quicker and the suspension geometry and settings have been retuned. By increasing the amount of high-tensile steels, Mazda has also made the body 22 per cent stiffer but lighter than before, allowing it to up the equipment levels but keep the overall kerbweight constant. So the 1,040kg diesel is 77kg lighter than the equivalent Fiesta.

Mazda 2 2015 left

Two all-new engines have also been developed for the 2 and forthcoming CX-3 crossover. The 1.5 SkyActiv-G – available with 74bhp, 89bhp or 113bhp, and revised manual or auto gearboxes – does without a turbo, but has a compression ratio of 14:1. This is the highest of any naturally aspirated petrol engine, and is a strategy Mazda insists delivers better real-world economy. The 1.5 SkyActiv-D is only available with 104bhp and a six-speed manual box, but promises 83.1mpg and 89g/km emissions, putting it up there with the class’s cleanest cars.  Drive calmly, keeping the revs below 3,500rpm, and the petrol engine is refined and quiet with plenty of torque and sharp throttle response. But stretch it nearer to the limiter and it starts to sound coarse, with a booming engine note that quickly gets tiring. It’s the SkyActiv-D that surprised us, though, doing an excellent impression of Mazda’s 2.2-litre. While most diesels deliver a surge of power followed by a flat spot, this offers a far more linear power delivery and is happy to rev without sacrificing refinement. In-gear pace is strong as well, and while the manual box could do with a shorter throw, it has a pleasingly notchy feel. The electric power-steering has a quicker ratio than before, but it doesn’t weight up much in corners.

Mazda 2 2015 interior

It’s so direct, though, that you quickly become confident placing the car in bends and darting in and out of traffic. The 2’s comfortable enough for the daily grind, too; despite having stiffer springs and dampers than before, it only judders over potholes and big bumps. However, to pass a verdict on its highspeed refinement, or see whether it can outhandle a Fiesta on the limit, we’d need a more extensive test drive than this. It’s the design that has to reel in the customers, and it’s here where the 2 noses ahead of the competition. You’re probably familiar with Mazda’s Kodo design language by now, and with its short overhangs, three-dimensional chrome wing element under the front grille and optional full LED lights, the car is beautifully proportioned, with details to match. The interior is just as impressive, with the most expensive-looking design this side of an Audi A1. The asymmetrical bulls-eye vents look great, while the seven-inch display and rotary controller are reminiscent of Mercedes’ A-Class, and brilliantly simple to use.

Mazda 2 2015 back

There’s a class first head-up display, too, while the materials on our top-spec car were superb in some areas (leather on the dash, door panels, seats) and suspect in others (scratchy plastic on the tops of the doors and glovebox). Still, as these are pre-production cars we have to assume things will improve. There’s lots of front seat and steering wheel adjustment, while the pedals are nicely positioned, without any offset. Passengers in the back have more room than in a Fiesta, and two adults can easily sit one behind the other – as long as they’re not both six-footers. The deep boot offers 280 litres with the rear seats in place, or 960 litres with them folded – 10 and 14 litres less than in the Ford, but 30 and 173 litres more than in the old Mazda.

Conclusion

Mazda is on a roll at the moment, and the new 2 brings something fresh and exciting to the supermini class with its chiselled looks, plush interior and engaging handling. We’ll have to wait for a more extensive drive to make a full assessment of its handling, but things are looking promising. While there are question marks over some of the cabin materials, plus the refinement of the new petrol engine, assuming Mazda can iron out these issues before the car goes on sale next spring, it should be a serious contender in the most competitive class of all.

750% Great

Mazda is on a roll at the moment, and the new 2 brings something fresh and exciting to the supermini class with its chiselled looks, plush interior and engaging handling. We’ll have to wait for a more extensive drive to make a full assessment of its handling, but things are looking promising. While there are question marks over some of the cabin materials, plus the refinement of the new petrol engine, assuming Mazda can iron out these issues before the car goes on sale next spring, it should be a serious contender in the most competitive class of all.

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