Small cars are big business in the UK, with a number of superminis sitting right at the top of the UK bestselling cars list, courtesy of their low prices and easy-to-drive nature. What this means for car buyers, is that there are many models to choose from, including the UK’s most popular car – the Ford Fiesta – and the Vauxhall Corsa, which trails closely behind.
Despite being on sale since just after the turn of the millennium the Mazda 2 isn’t a particularly common sight on the roads, with many supermini buyers plumping for more obvious rivals, including the Fiesta and Corsa, as well as the good value Skoda Fabia, the upmarket VW Polo and the stylish Seat Ibiza. However, the previous 2 did have a number of things in its favour, including low prices, sharp looks and an engaging driving experience.
With prices starting at £11,995 and rising to more than £16,500 the 2 isn’t the cheapest supermini on sale, though it counters this with punchy engines and plenty of equipment.
The 2 is Mazda’s newest model – a supermini that takes on some of the top selling cars in the UK. The new model majors on offering a hefty dose of style inside and out, along with strong but economical engines. These figures beat rivals including the Skoda Fabia, with the 2 offering the performance of the more powerful Fabias, while matching the economy of the less powerful versions.
Prices starting just shy of £12,000 mean that Mazda isn’t competing with the Vauxhall Corsa of Ford Fiesta on value, but the 2 does compare favourably for equipment, performance and economy to similarly priced rivals.
The 2 is available with four 1.5-litre engines – three petrols and a diesel. The petrol versions offer 74bhp, 89bhp and 113bhp, while the diesel produces 104bhp. We tested out the cheapest model, the 74bhp petrol, along with the 113bhp version.
Despite being the least powerful engine in the range, the 74bhp petrol is more than punchy enough for most supermini buyers. The car can scamper from a standstill to 62mph in a reasonably nippy 12.1 seconds – considerably outstripping an equivalent (and less economical) Skoda Fabia 1.0, which takes 14.7 seconds – even though it returns a strong 60.1mpg.
The car copes well, even on faster roads, provided you are willing to work the engine hard. Refinement levels are high, though the engine does make itself heard at higher speeds. Long gears mean that the engine is practically silent when cruising on the motorway, however, but you’ll have to change down a gear or two for swift progress.
The 1.5-litre 113bhp model offers sprightly performance, though it still feels a little louder than rivals including the Ford Fiesta and Skoda Fabia. We’d opt for the 89bhp petrol, however, as this offers most of the performance of the 113bhp unit – taking just 9.4 seconds to accelerate to 62mph – while beating the other 1.5-litre motors for economy, with a figure of 62.8mpg.
Thanks to very light steering and reasonably good visibility the 2 is easy to drive around town, aided by an easy to balance clutch and a slick gear change. The suspension is a little firm, though comfort levels are still high, helped by well-shaped seats.
The interior of the new 2 is a story of two halves – while the entry level 75 SE and SE-L models have a relatively Spartan interior, with buttons scattered around the dashboard, the other versions, which feature a seven-inch touchscreen media system, feel a lot more upmarket and stylish. Meanwhile, the dashboard of the range-topping 113bhp model is dominated by a large rev counter, adding to its sporty feel.
The 2 feels mostly high quality on the inside, though the material across the top of the dashboard looks a little cheap. Sport models up the ante, though, with a leather strip across the dashboard and feature stitching across the seats.
There is plenty of room for those in the front seats in the new Mazda 2, along with a deep, usefully sized boot. However, headroom in the rear seats is a little limited, with the shape of the roof cutting down on space, while the boot opening is tight, limiting the size of object that you can load into it.
The Mazda 2 is an attractive supermini offering appealing styling, inside and out, along with sharp handling and high refinement levels. What makes the 2 stand out from rivals, however, is its engines which offer strong performance as well as impressive economy.
We’d steer clear of the most basic models, as the interior can feel a little low rent, but it’s the opposite story with the more expensive models, which have a much more stylish and high quality feel to their interiors. If you plan on carrying larger passengers in the rear seats, it may not be the best supermini for you, however, the 2 feels like a well engineered machine that should serve you well for years to come.
Don't want to buy new? You can browse for a used Mazda 2 in our classifieds here.
Mazda 2 1.5 75 SE-L
List price: £12,995
Engine: 1.5-litre, four cylinder petrol
Top speed: 106mph
0-62mph: 12.1 seconds
Fuel economy: 46.3mpg (urban), 72.4mpg (extra-urban) 60.1mpg (combined)
Emissions: 110g/km CO2
Euro NCAP rating: Not yet tested
February 6, 2015