2014 Mazda2 road test review | Fun factor times two
GOING small no longer means sacrifices. This new Mazda2 is a fine example.
Starting from $14,990, which is $800 less than the outgoing model, it packs a lot into a pint-size package.
This all-new Thailand-built Mazda2 features vastly improved driving dynamics, solid features and alluring design.
One look at the latest release and its family resemblance is clear. Joining the likes of CX-5, Mazda6 and Mazda3, the clan's smallest addition gains the now trademark front end, along with the Skyactive drivetrain technology.
Drive-away prices $2000 above the list figure will be available for the foreseeable future. Officially it's set to go on sale from November 17.
A reasonably spacious interior, good enough for four adults; the Mazda2 is a lovely little chariot.
Sitting on a slightly larger wheelbase, the pint-sizer has grown in width and height.
Front seats have been designed to cope with passengers up to 190cm tall, although headroom and legroom has decreased slightly compared to the old model.
But it does feel more expansive inside, with more breathing space between the front pews.
The driver has an instrument set up similar to what we have seen in the larger Mazda3.
Genki variants have a more sporting set-up, with a large tacho and digital speedo combination, along with the slick head-up display, whereas the lower spec offerings have an analogue speedometer.
Behind the wheel and design changes mean the A-pillar shifts backward about 80mm, creating an improved view of the road. Finding a good driving position is made easier by telescopic steering wheel adjustment, along with a seat which can be raised and lowered.
Genki models have a 17cm colour screen which sits proudly on the dash. It can't be folded away, not that you'd ever want it to disappear as it carries a host of useful information, like sat nav and stereo controls.
The smaller screen in the Maxx and Neo variants looks a little downtrodden, although at this price you can't expect the works.
On the road
Attacking a roundabout or challenging corner and the Mazda2 has impressive confidence.
Small, two-wheel drive cars of the past would have you ploughing toward the roadside with understeer when carrying too much speed, but not this all-new offering.
Sampling both the manual and automatic transmissions, the Mazda2 actually felt more sprightly with the self-shifter.
Maxx and Genki get slightly more power and torque as well as improved fuel economy from the 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine, and it's a donk which does a solid job of propelling the hatchback in varying conditions.
It will happily work up into the rev range, coping with highway travels as well as its bread and butter of around town activities.
Coarse chip surfaces create some road noise (not that the high-end Europeans can
do any better), but the Mazda2 is a remarkably quiet for a car of this size and price-point.
What do you get?
Neos get 15-inch steel wheels, four-speaker CD stereo with USB input, push button start, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, air con and power windows.
Maxx picks up cruise control, a leather- wrapped gear shift knob, handbrake handle and steering wheel, along with alloy wheels and access to the cool $250 interior colour pack which includes red features such as seats, air vent surrounds and door inserts (only with black, white and silver external colours).
Genki ticks all boxes, with 17cm colour screen and Mazda's slick MZD system controlled via the console dial for access to apps and various other operations, dual zone climate controlled air con, automatic lights and wipers and 16-inch alloys.
There hasn't been a crash test undertaken here, but Mazda is confident it will achieve five stars. An automatic braking function called Smart City Brake Support (which works between 4-30kmh) is available across the range for $400.
Among the options are parking sensors front ($599) and back ($399), rear view camera ($778 on Neo and Maxx, $420 on Genki) and a central armrest ($480).
Official figures have the Mazda2 achieving about five litres for every 100km. Our test saw just above six in both the manual and automatic, which is justifiably thrifty from a car of this size.
It also runs on standard unleaded which makes it the cheapest to run in class - with the slightly more economical VW Polo running on premium.
Capped priced servicing is available for the lifetime of the car.
Extra space is between the front seats which means a more user-friendly console. There you find two cup holders, a nice storage spot in front of the shifter (and vitally near the USB/12-volt plugs) for smartphones and music players.
The rear seats have a 60/40 folding capability, although they don't fold completely into the floor. Boot space is good enough for a small grocery shop or a pair of small suitcases and underneath the floor there is a space-saver spare.
Two large drink holders are in the centre console, while the front doors have a pocket for gear and can also carry a bottle.
Styling may not appear dynamically different for many at first glance, but compare the two and the changes are stark. The all-new Mazda2 wears a proud grille, with changes to the A-pillar positioning for a distinct front end. Eight colours are available, with a new blue and light purple called "Smoky Rose", "Soul Red", silver, black, white, grey and another blue hue.
With key players in the biggest segments, the all-new Mazda2 is a timely inclusion to the marque's line-up. The old model has been solid but was seven years old, and these updated bring it up to speed. With a CX-3 now planned (a sub-compact SUV based on the same platform), Mazda will have 80% of the passenger car market covered.
With a quiet ride, composed on the road and with good looks, Mazda is justifiably confident with this pint-sizer.
What matters most
What we liked: Much improved driving dynamics, awesome interior colour pack for $250, quiet ride.
What we'd like to see: Rear cup holders, additional head room in the rear.
Warranty and servicing: Three-year unlimited kilometre warranty. Capped priced servicing is available for the lifetime of the vehicle. Servicing intervals are every 10,000km or annually. Services vary between $258-$361 in the first four.
Details: Five-door front-wheel drive micro size hatchback
Engine: 1.5-litre in-line four-cylinder petrol generating maximum power of 81kW @ 6000rpm (79kw in standard spec) and peak torque of 141Nm @ 4000rpm (139Nm in standard spec)
Transmission: Six-speed manual or six-speed automatic
Consumption: 5.2 litres/100km (combined average, manual), 5.4 (standard spec); 4.9L/100km (a), 5.5 (standard spec)
Bottom line plus on-roads: Neo (m) $14,990, Neo (a) $16,990, Maxx (m) $16,990, Maxx (a) $18,990, Genki (m) $19,990, Genki (a) $21,990