The Mazda 2 is now into its third generation here in the UK and marks a step forward for Mazda, as it is the first small car in over 20 years that Mazda has designed and built without using Ford Fiesta underpinnings. The current model, released in 2015 has also moved away from the curvy lines and bubble shape of the previous model and has adopted a sharper front end partly in thanks to a raked bonnet angle.
There is a great range of specifications for buyers to choose from and one to suit all budgets which are listed below and are correct as of 2018:
SE+ which is only available with the 75ps 1.5 litre engine and 5 speed manual gearbox. RRP: £13,295 and is fitted with 15” alloy wheels, electric folding mirrors, dual airbags, curtain airbags and hill hold assist.
SE-L+ is available with the same mechanical configuration with RRP: £14,095 and is fitted with SE+ features as well as automatic headlights, LED front foglights, electric windows front and rear, climate air conditioning, Bluetooth and cruise control.
SE-L Nav + has the option of a 90ps 1.5 litre engine with either a 5 speed manual or 6 speed automatic gearbox. £14,895 RRP manual or £16,195RRP automatic and has all the SE-L plus features as well as a 7” touch screen with sat nav and a DAB digital radio.
Sport Nav+ has the same engine and gearbox options as the SE-L Nav + with the manual set at £15,695 RRP and £16,995 RRP for the automatic. The Sport Nav has all the features of the SE-L Nav+ but with added sporting flair. As such this spec comes with 16” wheels, rear spoiler, chrome exhaust trim, tinted windows but also comes with the convenience of parking sensors, keyless entry and rain sensing wipers.
Sport black+ is available with the 90ps 1.5 litre engine and 5 speed manual gearbox and is priced at £15,995 RRP. This spec is fitted with all the features of the Sport Nav+ but with an added bodykit and certain body parts painted in black.
GT Sport Nav+ is available with the 90ps 1.5 litre engine or the 115ps 1.5 litre engine. The latter is the most powerful engine on offer. This spec is available with either the 5 speed manual or a 6 speed manual. £16,495 RRP for the 5 speed manual or £17,095 RRP for the 6 speed. This is the top spec Mazda 2 and is fitted with all the Sport Nav + features as well as having leather/suede seats where the front seats are heated, leather steering wheel, reverses camera, and lane departure warning.
Driving the Mazda 2
The model I have on test is a 2016 Se-L Nav model, fitted with the mid-range 1.5 petrol engine producing 89BHP and mated to a 5 speed manual gearbox. Mazda describes the Mazda 2 as a sporty supermini which can be felt through firm but compliant suspension and the snappy gear changes. However, I found I needed some time to adjust to the Mazda 2 steering characteristics, as the steering was far too light and found it does not help build confidence to push the car hard into the bends. The 1.5 petrol engine is both economical and quiet in town and on the motorway, but found a vibration through the pedals when the engine was pushed into the higher rev range.
Moving into the cabin it is clear that the interior is well put together but seems slightly bland in my opinion and a little tight on the right hand side for the driver. The dashboard is nicely curved and all the controls are where you expect them to be, the exception is the dial to controlling the infotainment system which is set too far back and thus making it harder to reach. Furthermore, certain design features appeared borrowed from other manufacturers, a good example are the air vents which appear to be borrowed from the current Audi A3 as well as the hazard switch which seemed to remind me of one found in the Vauxhall Nova.
The cabin isn’t all bad though, there’s plenty of space for rear passengers and more than you get in the Ford Fiesta. The boot is a good size too, with 280 litres of space but there is a lip which will make lifting heavy or big items slightly cumbersome. The Mazda 2 also has plenty of storage space in other areas, including front door pockets that can hold water bottles and space for mobile phones. This particular Mazda 2 is well spec’d, being equipped with Bluetooth, Satnav, cruise control and a novelty nowadays – a CD player. This last feature is great for those like me who haven’t embraced the 21st Century yet. I found the Sat Nav easy to use and I liked that you could search over the map and look at the surrounding areas, perfect if you get lost as I did when taking a detour. My only complaint with the Sat Nav was that at one point it froze and the only way to resolve the issue was to turn off the ignition and restart the engine but I admit this may be a fault with this particular Mazda 2.
The radio is of good quality too and as you would expect it’s a DAB digital radio which like the Sat Nav was easy to use. I did find that whilst driving at higher speeds there was a lot of road and wind noise which meant the radio had to be turned up but even at high volumes the radio performed well. On the other hand, when the radio was turned off and had the wipers on I could hear the rear wiper motor whirring which did get irritating after a while but I guess that’s what the radio is for!
The Motorist Guide Opinion:
In my opinion the Mazda 2 is a midrange supermini, it’s not the worst in class but it’s not the best either. A definitive plus point is the 1.5 litre engine as it is more economical than the 1.5 litre engine you’ll find in the MG3 and as previously mentioned the rear legroom is better than what you’ll find on a Ford Fiesta. But I felt the steering let the car down due to it being too light for my taste as well as the interior being slightly bland, although well-built and well spec’d. However, I do think the current Mazda 2 will be a good seller, partly due to being keenly priced in line with the competition but also its an improvement on the previous model.