What’s this bold-looking thing?
It’s the all-new Mazda
2, the third car to wear the 2 badge in the UK and by far the most stylish. It’s a smidge longer than the car it replaces - mostly in the wheelbase - and while its overall shape is nigh on identical, there’s way more style and complexity to its front end. It’s a smart supermini.
Wasn’t the old one pretty decent?
It was, teaming a compact shape with strong reliability and an entertaining driving experience. Happily, Mazda has kept the recipe it used back in 2007 and simply thrown in some fresher ingredients.
This includes a selection of its frugal and clever ‘Skyactiv’ engines - a 1.5-litre naturally aspirated petrol comes in 74, 89 and 113bhp tunes, while a 104bhp 1.5-litre turbodiesel comes with tiny 89g/km CO2 emissions.
We’ve driven the mid-ranking 89bhp petrol, and given that the two engines sitting above it will set you back at least £15,995 - while it starts at a more palatable £13,995 in well-stocked SE-L trim - it could well be the current pick of the range.
Alloys, DAB, a 7in touchscreen media system, Bluetooth and cruise control are all standard fit, while sat nav is a value £400 option.
So what’s it like?
First impressions are of a car a step on from its predecessor, with a much more stylised dashboard. And the media system is nice and intuitive to use, too, working best through its iDrive-style rotary wheel that sits behind the gear knob.
The materials might lack the perceived quality you’ll find oozing out of the VW Polo, but there’s a simplicity and ergonomic polish here that’s arguably all you need in a car at this price point.
And to drive?
Mazda’s commitment to lightweight construction sees it tip the scales at 1,050kg, which is light even in this sector. The benefits are immediately obvious, as it’s imbued with an agility and keenness to change direction that goes hand in hand with its perky little engine.
The Skyactiv unit revs cleanly and with linearity, but rev it you must, with the flexible mid-range of its many turbocharged rivals conspicuous by its absence. There’s much to like, though, and mated to a slick five-speed manual gearbox, it’s a sweet drivetrain with instant responses in traffic.
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. A Fiesta is sharper still, but the 2 lies at the lively end of the supermini spectrum.
Anything else worth a mention?
This 89bhp car’s claimed 62.8mpg - fantastic given the lack of forced induction - ought to translate to high 40s in the real world.
The rich red paint you see above would appear to be the 2’s signature colour, and at £650, it’s just £120 more than other metallic options. In fact, value extras appear to be the order of the day. You want a head-up display, previously the preserve of premium brands? It comes as part of a £400 safety pack, one which also includes blind spot monitoring and high beam assist.
Our only hesitancy in recommending the 2 would be if you regularly transport four adults. Its diminutive size means it ain’t the roomiest supermini on the block, and anyone approaching six foot will feel hemmed in if they’re sat in the back. That aside, though, here’s a car that’s talented and
fun. Now all we need is a hot one…