The Mazda2 is a refreshing approach in the supermini segment, and our week with the diesel model proved that it’s extremely economical in real-life driving.
We’ve already driven the petrol-engined Mazda 2 on its launch, but with Mazda’s claims about efficiency, we were intrigued to test the diesel-engined model over a week which included a drive from Cheshire to the North East and back; how economical would the Mazda2 be in such a scenario?
This Mazda2 has a 105ps 1.5-litre diesel engine and a 6-speed manual transmission. Mazda believes that its SKYACTIV technology delivers better economy in real-life driving. Well, we’re about to find out.
The Mazda2 has the ‘direct’ driving experience of its bigger brother, the Mazda3. In our view, this is a good thing; however such things are obviously subjective.
Why is it a direct driving experience? Because it has an ‘old-school’ feel to it – in a good way, just like a Mazda MX-5 has a traditional driving sensation, due to factors such as no CVT transmission, no over-light steering, no floaty suspension.
The manual transmission, with its precise, short-shifting action, definitely shares genes with that in the MX-5, which is certainly a good thing.
The steering is another factor helping with the rewarding driving experience, as it’s heavier and provides more feel than many rivals.
The Mazda2 also has direct handling. A key factor in this is the suspension, which is on the firm side, aiding a lack of body roll through corners, however it may not provide the cosseting ride that some people seek.
As well as transmitting some poor road surfaces through the chassis, at times there’s also some accompanying road noise.
It’s also worth noting that the diesel is slightly heavier than the petrol-engined model: 1115kg compared to 1045kg, which has an impact on the agility of the handling.
The 105ps 1.5-litre turbodiesel engine doesn’t have huge amounts of power or torque, as a result, frequent gear changing is required when trying to make progress up inclines at motorway speeds.
Our test car was sometimes juddery when changing gear, and when in reverse, but this is often a by-product of enthusiastic testing of press cars by some media.
We like the exterior styling, and the Mazda2 has a stylish, minimalistic, modern and upmarket interior, in which you can get a comfortable driving position. It shares its ‘infotainment’ system with the Mazda3. This is one of the best in the business, certainly in this class of car.
There’s a touchscreen, but crucially there’s also a rotary dial and buttons between the front seats which allow you to control the system. As regular Green Car Guide visitors will be aware, we believe that using a touchscreen to control most of the car’s functions is a silly idea, as it’s very difficult to press the right button on a central screen when driving at speed, especially on roads that don’t have a perfect surface – ie. virtually all roads in the UK. The Mazda system may be clearly influenced by BMW’s iDrive, but that probably is the best in the business, so that’s fine.
Another highly irritating trend at the moment is that most cars that we get into constantly beep at us for driving towards white lines in the road. Usually after much searching (during which time you’re highly likely to crash), you can find a button to switch off the Lane Departure Warning system. However as soon as you re-start the car, the beeping reappears and you have to go fumbling for the off switch again – every time you start the car.
In the quest for lower insurance premiums, the Mazda2 also has a Lane Departure Warning system – but once you’ve switched it off, it stays switched off, even when you re-start the car. Hooray! Please can all other manufacturers take note.
The diesel Mazda2 has an official NEDC combined economy figure of 83.1mpg, and 89g/km CO2 emissions, compared to 62.8mpg and 105g/km CO2 for the petrol model that we tested.
During our week with the Mazda2, including a drive from Cheshire to Newcastle and back, our fuel economy ranged from 50mpg to 90mpg, but most of the time it hovered between 60 and 70mpg. After a week, the car averaged 62.2mpg. This is one of the best real-life miles per gallon results that we’ve had, but if you assess based on the combination of how good a car is to drive and its economy, then the Mazda2 is in the very top frontrunners.
The economy also means a good driving range – over 400 miles – and it’s reasonably cheap to fill the tank.
This Mazda2 1.5 105ps Sport Nav Diesel cost £17,395. The petrol model that we tested cost £15,395, so the diesel works out as exactly £2,000 more than the petrol model. Our car also had Mica/Metallic/Pearlescent paint, a £530 option, taking the price of the test car to £17,925. This is getting a bit pricey for a supermini, and is a key factor in why the diesel engine is expected to account for only around 10% of sales.
The petrol-engined models will be the most popular; out of the three options of the 75, 90 and 105ps, the 90ps will be the biggest seller. This is understandable for this class of car, especially with all the current media reports about diesels being banned from urban areas (even though the problem primarily lies with old trucks, buses and taxis, not modern diesel cars), but this is a shame, as the diesel engined-model is good to drive due to its greater torque (220Nm compared to the 148Nm from the best petrol engines in the range) – as well as being very economical.
A five-level grade structure – SE, SE-L, SE-L Nav, Sport and Sport Nav – results in twelve petrol and four diesel variants, priced from £11,995 to £17,395.
As well as the 7-inch colour touchscreen, MZD Connect smartphone connectivity and Active Driving Display, there’s the first head-up display in the B-segment. As standard you also get Hill Hold Assist, Tyre Pressure Monitoring System, Dynamic Stability Control and Traction Control System.
The five-speed SKYACTIV-MT manual transmission is available on the petrol-powered SKYACTIV-G 1.5-litre 75ps and the SKYACTIV-G 1.5-litre 90ps. The six-speed SKYACTIV-MT manual transmission is available on the SKYACTIV-G 1.5-litre 115ps model and diesel-powered SKYACTIV-D 1.5-litre 105ps model.
The six-speed SKYACTIV-Drive automatic transmission is only available on the petrol-powered SKYACTIV-G 1.5-litre 90ps model.
The MX-5 shows that Mazda’s approach works: it’s lightweight, efficient, and a real driver’s car. The Mazda3 is one of our favourite cars in its class. The Mazda2 shares many of the qualities of other members of its family; in our eyes, this is a good thing. The challenge is how many other buyers of superminis will appreciate this.
The Mazda2 diesel proved itself to be economical and good to drive. It also has an impressive interior, and we think it looks good. The trouble is, there are lots of good superminis out there – many of them are cheaper than the Mazda2 diesel, they have lighter controls, and have a more comfortable ride, and it’s factors such as these that may sway supermini buyers.
There’s also the issue of brand – many of the Mazda 2’s rivals are brands that are more familiar to the British supermini-buying public. Mazda’s best hope is that the halo from the MX-5 cascades down to the Mazda2, but this will still only influence a proportion of supermini buyers.
The Mazda2 diesel, like the petrol model, is awarded a Green-Car-Guide rating of 8 out of 10.