Model/Engine size: 1.5 Sport
Fuel economy combined: 47.9 mpg
The big green idea behind the Mazda 2 is that a special effort has been made to make it lighter than its predecessor. Compared to making it into a hybrid or giving it features such as stop-start this may not sound like a big thing – but it is. Most new models get bigger and more bloated and gain extra weight – just look at how the VW Golf virtually doubled in weight from Mark 1 to Mark 5 guise.
The Mazda 2 weighs in at 1035kg – 100kg lighter than its predecessor. Some other supermini rivals tip the scales at 1200kg, so this is refreshing, unconventional progress.
Mazda has saved weight through a range of measures. The new car is very slightly smaller, the body is lighter by 22kg due to the use of high tensile steels, and the suspension is 13kg lighter.
A lighter car means less energy is needed to propel it – so better fuel economy and lower emissions result. However a lighter car is also more fun to drive. And this is really where the Mazda 2 excels. It really is a great driving experience for a car of this class; it goes round corners very well and feels extremely agile, tight and refined. The steering is direct and responsive, despite being electrically assisted.
Previous Mazda small cars have been based on Ford Fiestas, and the latest Mazda 2 is also based on the next Fiesta platform, so it bodes well for the forthcoming Ford that the Mazda 2’s handling is so good.
Then there’s the styling – we think it looks fantastic. With the bright metallic green paintwork (a £350 option), it’s difficult to find a bad angle. If this colour isn’t enough for you, you can even specify sports stripes. The short overhangs, especially at the rear, look good and also contribute to its tight handling.
The interior is also well designed and modern. It’s a reflection, along with the rest of the car, of how far supermini design has progressed over recent years. No longer does a small car have to feel cheap and nasty; the Mazda 2 has all the quality and refinement of a much bigger vehicle. Even the space inside the Mazda is excellent for this size of car. The steering wheel is full of buttons for the sound system and cruise control, and the gear lever is set relatively high on the dash, which is actually quite well positioned for gear changes.
Areas for improvement on the Mazda 2 include the unsettled ride, which can be particularly evident on motorways – when noise in the cabin is also an issue. It would benefit from having longer gearing in fifth to bring down the revs on the motorway. And we really struggled to get decent radio reception!
The car tested was the 102bhp petrol 1.5 Sport – should you go for the 1.4 litre diesel? For better torque and outright economy, yes; the diesel manages an excellent 65.7mpg, and 114g/km CO2 emissions, however it’s noisy. The petrol Mazda 2 is light, nippy and responsive. There’s also a 1.3 litre petrol engine available in 74bhp or 85bhp versions, and although more economical than the 1.5, managing 52.3mpg rather than 47.9mpg, this is a little underpowered for use outside the city.
The Mazda is also competitively priced – especially the entry-level models. The more expensive Sport version comes with great looking 16 inch alloy wheels and bodykit, which makes the car look very stylish. The Sport also comes with climate and cruise control, traction and stability control, rear electric windows, rain-sensing wipers and six speakers.
So the Mazda 2 is a huge step forward over the previous model, and it sends out a signal to the rest of the car industry that the time has come to do things differently. No longer can new models get bigger, more bloated, and heavier. Lighter cars are a sign of the future, and the benefits in the areas of economy and handling mean that you should give the Mazda 2 serious consideration as your next supermini.
Fuel economy extra urban: 57.6 mpg
Fuel economy urban: 37.2 mpg
CO2 emissions: 140 g/km
Green rating: VED band C – £120
Weight: 1035 Kg
Company car tax liability (2007): 15%
Price: £11,799 (From £7,999 to £11,799)
Insurance group: 5
Safety: NCAP 5 stars
Max speed: 117 mph
0-60mph: 10.4 seconds