A sharp little number
It’s good-looking, inside and out with fuel economy to die for, PETER BARNWELL writes
THE new Mazda2 arrives here in November amid a flush of activity in the light passenger car segment — much of it in response to the Mazda’s arrival.
It’s the fourth new Mazda in rapid succession with Skyactiv economy and emissions optimisation technology and so-called Kodo-style design.
Other technology from the three larger cars, Mazda 6 and 3 and the CX5, filters down into the 2.
Stuff like MCD digital connectivity and some driver assist features such as lane keeping assist, reverse camera, auto brake and possibly radar cruise control.
Though pricing was not released at the preview drive, it is likely to be around the same mark as the current model and certainly competitive with VW’s new Polo, which starts at $16,290.
The new Mazda2 line-up is likely to retain three grades (Neo, Maxx, Genki), conventional auto and manual six-speed transmissions and, for some reason, two versions of the 1.5-litre petrol four-cylinder called the V-P5 and the F-P5.
A 1.3-litre petrol engine is available but not in Australia.
Same for the 1.5-litre diesel, which was deemed unnecessary.
The rationale behind two 1.5 petrols is driven by economy, with the engines capable of up to 25 per cent better fuel economy than the current car.
If that’s no exaggeration, it means the most economical Mazda2 will sip regular unleaded 91 RON at 4.8 litres/100km, a figure any hybrid car would struggle to achieve in the real world.
The higher spec 1.5 F-P5 scores direct fuel injection, internal friction reduction, high 13:1 compression, piston crowns with a combustion cavity and variable SVT cam timing both sides, with the intake driven electrically and the exhaust by engine oil pressure.
Interestingly, the higher spec engine is the only one to get iStop engine stop/start for fuel savings in traffic.
It’s good for 81kW/141Nm output — significantly more than the previous Mazda2 rated at 76/135.
The “cheaper’’ V-P5 engine misses out on the electric intake cam SVT system and runs a lower 12:1 compression ration to achieve 79kW/139Nm.
We fail to understand the reasons for two such similar engines that would cost pretty much the same to manufacture. Offering just the higher output F-PS would have done the trick.
Apart from the sensational styling that’s sure to win many hearts, other things that will make Mazda2 buyers happy will be the new six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shift and sequential mode on the selector stick. It also has two drive modes, normal and sport that alter engine rev shift.
It’s about the same size externally as the current Mazda2 with slightly less room inside gauged by critical dimensions. And the boot seems smaller. Interior space is adequate for four adults.
As a completely new car, the new Mazda2 boasts improvements across the board to ride and handling, noise and vibration reduction, drive feel, safety and standard equipment.
The interior in particular is a big step-up over the current car and features a tablet-style centre pod and neat, compact instrument cluster. Several fascia materials are used inside.
The exterior styling is a particularly attractive rendition of the Kodo style featured across all new Mazdas. The new Mazda2 is possibly the best looking tiddler in a highly populated segment.
The short test drive revealed a well planted car with plenty of pep from a willing engine that will happily spin out to 6500rpm. The auto is impressive, adding to the car’s semi-sporty allure. We didn’t drive the manual.
As good as the new 2 is, it still has drum rear brakes and a simple torsion beam rear suspension — definitely from the cheap and cheerful shelf.
This is an impressive little car that is likely to cannibalise Mazda3 sales as well as dominate the light segment. It has plenty of sass, goes great, uses minimal fuel and has a quality feel at a (potentially) bargain price — 3 ½ out of 5.