- Max Speed
You can tell a lot about a car's talents by how it's replaced. Something so-so gets overhauled; a car that's nailed its sweet spot evolves so subtly, the untrained eye mightn't notice. Think 911 or Golf.
Our praise for the outgoing 2 feels fully vindicated by how familiar this all-new car looks and feels, then. The styling is bolder and more intricate, but the overall shape is all-but identical, and while it's a smidge longer than before, it's all in the wheelbase.
It's still not the biggest supermini on sale, and anyone approaching six foot will feel cramped in the back. But it should cover most bases well, and the interior is more stylised than before. Perceived quality isn't high, but ergonomically it's spot-on, and a big central speedo and intuitive new seven-inch touchscreen media system brighten things up nicely.
Where the old 2 won our hearts, though, lay beyond such fripperies. It was in its keen, lithe dynamics and its amusingly rev-happy engines. And it appears little has changed.
The 2 gets a choice of petrol- and diesel-powered 1.5-litre Skyactiv engines, the former staying n/a while the vast majority of its rivals go turbo. Available with 74, 89 and 113bhp, we've tried the middle one. It's probably the one to have, too, given that the highest power output costs at least £16k (like the 104bhp diesel).
It revs cleanly and with linearity, but rev it you must, with the flexible mid-range of those rival turbos conspicuous by its absence. There's much to like, though, and mated to a slick 5spd manual gearbox, it's a sweet drivetrain with instant responses in traffic. At a little over a tonne, the 2 weighs less than most rivals, an immediate advantage should a fun stretch of road present itself. Reactions are quick, and the chassis is imbued with a sense of immediacy and vigour, assisted by a suspension set-up that's firm-edged but tautly composed over bumpy roads.
Less impressive is the steering, which is inconsistent in weight, ultimately being overly light at speed rendering it next to useless for reading grip levels. But they're generally strong and body roll is minimal.
With added tech, efficient engines and a smarter interior, all without a seismic shift from its effervescent character, the 2 is a fine exemplar for evolution over revolution.
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