The new Mazda2 offers a distinctive driving experience in the supermini class, as well as featuring refreshing design inside and out – along with 62.8mpg economy.
The current trend for superminis – as well as for other types of car – is for downsized turbo petrol engines, but Mazda is defying convention and using a relatively large 1.5-litre non-turbo petrol engine in the new Mazda2 on the basis that this is more economical in real-life driving – so does this approach work?
The new Mazda2 has an all-new chassis, all-new powertrains, and all-new design. The chassis is more rigid than before, yet the bodyshell is 7 per cent lighter. This translates to kerb weights for the new Mazda2 ranging from 1045kg to 1115kg.
A refreshing change in a world of downsizing, hybrids and continuously variable transmissions is that the Mazda 2 has a petrol engine that is a relatively large 1.5 litres, with no turbo. There are five-speed and six-speed manual transmissions or a six-speed automatic transmission.
Mazda’s ‘SKYACTIV’ powertrain range in the ‘2’ is comprised of the 1.5-litre SKYACTIV-G petrol with outputs of 75, 90 and 115ps, and there’s also a 1.5-litre SKYACTIV-D 105ps diesel engine. Mazda says these engines are ‘right-sized’. All versions come with i-stop idle-stop system as standard.
The Mazda2 looks good on the outside – it has similar flowing curves as the Mazda3, but in a more compact package. The inside is also very well designed, with a simple, uncluttered appearance and a genuinely premium feel, and like its big brother, the Mazda2 works well from an ergonomic point of view. It also has a touchscreen controlled by a rotary dial, which works so much better than just a touchscreen.
The Mazda2 is a five-door with a relatively long wheelbase and small overhangs, which means it’s practical, the ride is less choppy, and the handling is sharper.
We think that the Mazda3 is the best handling car in its class. So we were looking forward to getting behind the wheel of the smaller and lighter Mazda2.
The ‘2’ shares many of the attributes of the larger Mazda3; overall it feels like a ‘direct driving experience’ – this includes steering, chassis, engine and gearbox. Compared to many cars that don’t feel directly connected to the road – such as hybrids with continuously variable transmissions and cars with very light controls – this is a refreshing experience. However, this is a subjective area, and not everyone may want such a direct, solid driving sensation. But in our view this is a refreshing ‘back to basics’ feeling – with the short-shifting MX-5-like manual transmission being a perfect example of why this is a good thing.
The ride is comfortable but it feels slightly on the firm side, and the petrol engine can sound vocal when pushed. The diesel, with more torque, sounds more relaxed.
The 7-inch multimedia screen controlled by a rotary control dial makes so much more sense in a moving vehicle than a touchscreen. There’s even a traditional handbrake – hooray!
One slight ergonomic issue is that the stop/start button is almost hidden behind the left hand stalk on the steering column – especially if the steering wheel isn’t pulled out fully.
The 75ps 1.5-litre SKYACTIV-G petrol manual model returns 60.1mpg on the combined cycle (equating to 110g/km CO2). The more powerful 90ps petrol model (expected to be the biggest seller) has better economy at 62.8mpg, and lower emissions at 105g/km CO2. With automatic transmission this worsens slightly to 58.9mpg. The most powerful 115ps petrol engine option still has impressive fuel economy of 56.5mpg.
The 105ps 1.5-litre SKYACTIV-D diesel manual model returns 83.1mpg on the combined cycle, equating to 89g/km CO2 – resulting in a potential range of 800 miles.
It’s virtually impossible to accurately measure fuel economy on a launch event, but the 115ps petrol model was displaying over 40mpg on average, and 44.7mpg after a 70mph motorway stretch. The diesel averaged 63.6mpg in real life driving over the test route.
These figures are of course less than the official NEDC figures, but based on our experience with the Mazda3, in real-life driving Mazda’s ‘right-sizing’ strategy does deliver better economy than downsized engines.
The petrol engined Mazda2 models will be the most popular; out of the three options of the 75, 90 and 105ps, the 90ps will be the biggest seller. The diesel engine is expected to account for only around 10% of sales. 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 lies with old trucks, buses and taxis, not modern diesel cars), but this is a shame, as the diesel engined-model was the best to drive due to its greater torque (220Nm compared to the 148Nm from the best petrol engines in the range) – as well as appearing to be very economical. However the diesel is quite expensive for a supermini.
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. The Mazda2 is on sale in the UK now.
As well as the 7-inch colour touchscreen, MZD Connect smartphone connectivity and active driving display, the Mazda2 has the first head-up display in the B-segment. As standard you also get hill hold assist, a tyre pressure monitoring system, dynamic stability control and a 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 Mazda2 has a back-to-basics feel in terms of its direct driving experience – in our view this is a good thing. It also looks stylish on the inside and out.
The Fiesta 1-litre EcoBoost, with its flexible engine and fluid chassis, and the MINI, an impressive all-round package, now with five doors – are both excellent cars, but the Mazda certainly offers a very credible alternative.
The Mazda2 has many of the attributes of the excellent and in our view class-leading Mazda3, but in a smaller, more compact package, but understandably the Mazda2 has to have a few shortcuts to ensure it comes in at the right price point, and as a result it’s not quite as refined and doesn’t have the same handling finesse as a Mazda3. The Mazda2 is awarded a Green-Car-Guide rating of 8 out of 10.
One final note. The Mazda2 is a very good all-round car. However in our view one of the best-looking cars that’s due in 2015 is the all-new Mazda CX-3, a compact SUV based on the Mazda2, so before you rush out and buy a Mazda2 you may want to read our review about the CX-3 – coming soon…