Several car manufacturers have been living by the maxim “bigger is better” when replacing their European B-segment superminis. But instead of following the trend and making the new Mazda 2 larger than the outgoing model, the Japanese company has gone the other way. Not only is it 1.6 inches shorter, it’s also 221 pounds lighter, and that’s contributed to better fuel economy of up to 15 percent over its predecessor.
The 2 is a massively important vehicle and not just for Mazda. It’s the first new model to be built on Ford’s global small-car platform. This will also form the basis of all the blue oval’s next generation of B-cars, including the popular Ford Fiesta in
The Mazda 2 is currently only available in five-door guise, though a three-door will be launched next year. There’s a choice of three four-cylinder gasoline engines; a 1.3-liter with either 75 or 86 hp, and a 1.5 with 103 hp. A 1.4-liter diesel will arrive before the end of the year, but this will only account for about ten percent of sales, Mazda expects.
We drove the more powerful 1.3 and the 1.5. Both have plenty of character, though the latter is the pick of the pair. While the 1.3 is fine for urban driving, when you get it out on the open road it lacks the performance of its big brother. You need to work it hard to get any sort of speed, and even then it runs out of steam and gets noisy as you head up the rev range.
By contrast, the 1.5 emits a sportier engine note and is much better at tackling faster roads. The ride is a little on the firm side, but it’s not unpleasant or unduly stiff. Body roll is well controlled through the corners and the steering is accurate and predictable. Fuel economy on the 1.5 is 47.9 mpg in the Euro cycle.
Another strong element of the Mazda is its interior. The smart black cabin features a simple, modern dashboard with some nice touches like the round audio display. Mazda designers say they have tried to meet customer demands for practical storage areas, and to a degree that’s true. One clever element is the glovebox, which folds into the dash in the traditional way, but also has an additional open section. Mazda is describing it as an open magazine rack, which could be used to store something like a small road atlas. However, more could have been done with the area between the seats, and in the space created by mounting the gearshift off the car’s floor and midway up the dash.
This being a supermini, room in the rear isn’t massive. It’s great for kids, but adults will not want to spend too much time in there. Storage space in the hatch isn’t a strong point either. There’s 8.8 cubic feet of space, which is comparable with class rivals, and it increases to 27.8 cubes with the 60/40-split rear bench seat folded flat.
Standard equipment on the 2 will vary across the markets, but all cars come with anti-lock brakes, twin front airbags, remote central locking, power front windows, driver’s seat height adjustment, and an auxiliary port for the audio system. Other available features include cruise control, manual or automatic air conditioning, front fog lights, heated front seats, and a keyless entry/go system.
Mazda has resisted the temptation to supersize the 2 and it’s all the better for it. It’s a proper supermini, a car for singles or couples or a second vehicle for a family with children, and there’s a simplicity and honesty to it which will appeal to buyers.
Base price (
Engine: 1.3-liter four, 75 or 86 hp; 1.5-liter four, 103 hp
Drivetrain: Five-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Length x width x height: 157.0 x 66.5 x 57.8 in
Wheelbase: 98.0 in
Curb weight: 2116 lb
Fuel economy: 47.9 mpg (1.5-liter, Euro cycle)
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