A sharp lit­tle num­ber

It’s good-look­ing, in­side and out with fuel econ­omy to die for, PETER BARN­WELL writes

Geelong Advertiser - Motoring - - CARSGUIDE -

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.

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