This is Mazda's entry level supermini, the Mazda 2. The name has been around since 2002, but while previous generations have always been based on a Ford platform, this is an all-new generation developed from scratch by Mazda.
Mazda is on a bit of a roll and has replaced all of its Ford based models in the last three years. The Mazda 2 is the smallest, but is still unmistakably part of the new breed with strong looks, particularly at the front.
Inside, Mazda has really gone to town. There's not much in the sector that comes close for materials quality or standard of finish, but some of the lower spec cars are a little bit less plush. The basic dash design is so good that Mazda also uses it on the CX3 crossover and the new MX5 sports car. At times, you can easily forget you're in a supermini. Go for a higher spec car and you get Sat Nav along with DAB and internet radio.
Mazda has always had a bit of a reputation for making cars that are nice to drive and the new Mazda 2 is no exception; it's a sweet car to drive and a pleasure to take down back roads. The shift action is just like that of the MX5 so changing gear is a treat as well, and with nice light steering it's easy to drive around town.
The engines match the car's character, so whatever version you get you're going to have fun, but the more powerful option would really exploit it. There's one diesel, though, with an official fuel economy rating of 83mpg – amongst the class best.
Most of the time it offers a very comfortable ride, but some of the models with larger wheels can really bang about on poorly maintained roads.
There isn't a great deal of space in the Mazda 2: You're not going to be uncomfortable in the front, but the back is one for short journeys or kids. The 280 litre boot is about average for the class.
The Mazda 2 is an excellent entry in the supermini sector. It should make anyone's shortlist – it ticks all the boxes of being fun to drive, cheap to run and great to be in.