Mazda 2

Mazda 2 lr

By Tim Saunders

The art of deception is a difficult thing to master.
The Victorians were particularly adept at this when building their terrace houses that appear small from the outside and are often far larger than expected on the inside. I know because I live in one. But the modern houses of today are very small in comparison.
Some car manufacturers are able to replicate this with their vehicles. I am particularly thinking of the Kia Venga, which is certainly spacious. I am not expecting anything great though from the Mazda 2 because after all it is a supermini and they are small aren’t they?
It’s not much bigger than my Ford Fiesta yet I am pleasantly surprised by the reasonable amount of space found inside in terms of front and rear legroom. This becomes even more appreciated after spending time testing the tiny Peugeot 108 and Citroen C1 city cars where if my daughters are to travel in the back the front seats have to be pushed uncomfortably far forward.
It is typically well styled in the usual Mazda fashion with not a straight line in sight, a quality that has appealed to me about this Japanese manufacturer since the early ‘90s.
First impressions, from the rear, are that it is a well designed and attractive five door hatchback but there is nothing super exciting about this package, a bit of a conservative plain Jane. But then I revisit it the following day and discover that there are some unique qualities to the design. There is an area in the top middle of the rear bumper to accommodate a hand for lifting the tailgate. This somehow adds a touch of Americanism to the design for me, the bumper seems a little bigger perhaps than others on similar vehicles, better for any pedestrian impact. There is a sweeping curve down the side of the vehicle adding some character to the overall side profile. And I do like the front, which juts out in a similar way to some Maseratis and American vehicles. It also carries a standardised Mazda grille, the same design of which can be found across the range; in a similar way to other manufacturers. The 2 is a very good lesson in appreciation; it is only when you care to open your eyes and look deeper that you find some very pleasing characteristics. The chrome Mazda logo is placed on the front and rear and can also be found on the steering wheel.
On first glance at the interior I am not blown away because apparently there is nothing that special about it. But revisit it and there you will find a minimalist and uncluttered dashboard where all controls have been helpfully placed for the driver. There is a marriage of analogue and digital where the speedometer sits in pride of place above the steering wheel and when the engine starts the digital rev counter and fuel gauge magically appear.
There is a push button start in the 2 and it takes some time to discover that it sits to the left of the steering wheel, obscured by the steering wheel stalk. To start, just push while your foot is on the clutch. The smooth sounding 1.5-litre petrol engine is coupled to a five-speed manual gearbox. That gearbox I find to be thoroughly decisive and one of the better ones on the market. There is a good driving position and the seats are supportive and comfortable. But the dashboard and finish itself does feel a little too black plasticky for my liking as you can see in the video at testdrives.biz. However, I do like the fact that the powered wing mirrors can be electronically folded. I also like the fact that the test model is fitted with satellite navigation.
Equipped with electronic stop/start Mazda claims that this vehicle will return 56.5mpg and I cannot disagree with this because the fuel gauge did not move all week.
So, not so plain Jane after all, and many hidden surprises if you care to delve deeper.

Facts at a glance
Mazda 2 1.5 75ps SE 5 door
New price: £11,995 to £15,995
Top speed: 104mph
0-60mph: 11.4secs
Power: 75bhp
Economy: 56mpg
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