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The Top Gear car review:Mazda Mazda2
For:Fun, forgiving handling. Cabin is plenty spacious. Strong real-world economy. Easy-to-use infotainment
Against:In a world of small turbo engines, this last-bastion of natural aspiration feels awfully sluggish. And the cabin’s drab
What is it?
The forgotten supermini. The Mazda 2 is never the first name out of our mouths when we’re thinking of rivals to the Ford Fiesta and VW Polo. But when we revisited after Mazda gave it a comprehensive update in 2020, we found ourselves wondering why. After all, Mazda is the only carmaker on the planet who, currently, does not make a bad car. The 3, the 6, the MX-5, the CX-crossovers – they’re all pretty excellent, to look at, to drive, and to sit in. Mazdas are cruelly underrated. And the 2 is multi-talented too. However, it’s not quite as rounded as the very, very best.
The only engine, now diesel has been exorcised from the range and Mazda is uninterested in doing a ‘downsized’ engine, is a 1.5-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder petrol unit with either 74bhp or 89bhp. There’s no hot hatch version, which is a bit of a pity, given what a great launchpad this chassis would be for a pocket rocket. But at this size, there’s no beating the Fiesta ST, it seems.
Said engine drives the front wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox. There’s no hybrid or electric version. You can’t get the supercharged SkyActiv-X engine out of the Mazda 3 and CX-30. It’s a five-door only. There are four trim levels. The Mazda 2 is not a complicated product. And we like honest, unpretentious cars at Top Gear. It’s why we like Mazdas actually. Because that’s all Mazda makes.
For 2020, Mazda treated the 2 to a big new chrome-frame grille, so it looks less like a buck-toothed beaver from the front. There are classier alloy wheels and slightly updated headlights, but it’s not a facelift that’ll get folks talking. Does that mean the 2 deserves to remain the forgotten great small car? Hopefully not, as it’s still a genius in the corners – if rather lacking between them…