Mazda 2 Driving, Engines & Performance | Top Gear
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Tuesday 21st March


What is it like to drive?

Let’s deal with the elephant in the room. Or rather, the asthmatic under the bonnet. Those naturally aspirated engines. We’ve already mentioned the struggles of the mid-range 89bhp, complete with just 109lb ft of torque, and heaven forbid you buy the lesser-powered 74bhp engine. 

Still, it at least explains why Mazda has re-introduced a 113bhp version, complete with a slightly increased 111lb ft of torque. Good move, and should make the going somewhat easier. If only slightly – a zero to 62mph time of 9.1secs plays 9.8secs in the above-mentioned variant, while a top speed of 114mph, is, erm, 4mph quicker. Then again, this isn’t a car you buy for straight-line acceleration. 

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Sadly, the noise isn’t much better: noticeable when idling, surprising when putting your foot down. It’s not quite a roar, but more of a growl.

You could just adapt your driving style, right?

Well, up to a point. Yes, you can hang onto gears for longer, and extend the revs out, but even driven with that sort of just-passed-my-test-look-out-everyone mentality, the 2 is still A Slow Car. Only now, it’s also a thrashy car, and not a particularly frugal one either, despite Mazda’s claims that its updated engine range sees CO2 reductions of up to 14g/km and economy improvements of up to 13 per cent.

We’ve always applauded and lauded Mazda’s ‘rightsizing’ engine approach – that instead of rushing to fit turbocharged teeny engines to every car it makes, it instead carried on making comparatively large normally aspirated motors that suited the size of their models. So, a 2.0-litre in the Mazda 3, when a Golf made so with a 1.0 or 1.5. And a 1.5-litre in the 2, when a Clio has a 0.9-litre engine. All very sensible, mature thinking. We just wish it could’ve wrung out a bit more torque here, so progress in the 2 didn’t feel so hard-fought. 

How does it compare to its competitors handling-wise?

See, that’s what makes the disappointing range of engines a double jeopardy for the 2, because it’s one of the best handling cars of its size. It’s chuckable, forgiving, comfortable and agile. There’s ideally weighted steering, a slick gearchange, sensible pedal weighting and plenty of grip. It’s as good as you’d need a boggo supermini to be at going around corners, and quite a lot better besides.

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Wind and tyre noise, however, is more noticeable than in the very quietest superminis, like the Renault Clio and VW Polo. But hey, swings and roundabouts, the engine ought to drown that out...

Highlights from the range

the fastest

Mazda 2 1.5 e-Skyactiv G 115 GT Sport Tech 5dr
  • 0-629.1s
  • CO2
  • BHP115
  • MPG
  • Price£20,610

the cheapest

Mazda 2 1.5 Skyactiv-G 75 SE-L 5dr
  • 0-6211.7s
  • CO295.0g/km
  • BHP75
  • MPG
  • Price£15,610

the greenest

Mazda 2 1.5 Skyactiv-G Sport Nav 5dr
  • 0-629.7s
  • CO294.0g/km
  • BHP90
  • MPG
  • Price£17,310

Variants We Have Tested

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