SMILE FOR THE CAMERA
SOMETHING is still missing from the Mazda2.
Despite an update for 2017 with promise of more safety and refinement, which Mazda Australia claims makes its contender “undisputed champion the light car segment”, starting-price Mazda2 Neo does not come with a reversing camera.
That’s becoming bigger and bigger deal for lot of people. And the day is far away when camera will become legal safety requirement in Australia, same as anti-lock brakes and stability control.
Mazda says (honestly) that it can’t add a camera without exceeding its $14,990 value price point because it includes a bigger and costlier infotainment display. There is one available as dealer-fitted option for less than $800.
But is that good enough for Australia’s second favourite in the light-car class so far this year, after Hyundai Accent? Smaller tiddlers — including even new Kia Picanto, a $13,990 drive-away deal have reversing protection.
When you’re pushing the safety message, you need to tick all the boxes.
As it is, 2017 Mazda2 is trumpeted with auto city braking across range. There are blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, which claimed as a first for the class, although those are standard only on high-specification Genki and GT.
The update to Mazda2 since it arrived in 2014 as the starter model the impressive Mazda range also brings G-Vectoring Control, which electronically shifts load between front and rear wheels to improve cornering feel. There are suspension improvements more sound insulation in the boot.
In cabin, there a classier steering wheel and clearer instruments. Mazda says interior trim of every model (there are nine individual choices in the hatch and sedan) has been upgraded.
It’s a similar deal to other recent updates Mazda family, most notably Mazda3 Mazda6, and comes without any price increase.
So it’s all about evolution, after the revolutionary changes across Mazda family that enabled Japanese brand to rebound impressively from the austerity of global financial crisis and become a genuine quality rival to European pacesetters including Volkswagen.
ON THE ROAD
The new 2 drives with impressive quietness and refinement at all speeds. It feels a little smoother in the ride
touch sharper handling, though it doesn’t feel as sporty as the Volkswagen Polo. It’s also quieter than I remember thanks to unseen changes that include an “acoustic” windscreen, extra sound insulation and retuning of the “noise paths” that brought road noise into the cabin. I never had same complaints about Mazda2 as bigger Mazda3, which
a real problem before its midlife update.
Does that matter for people shopping the basic Mazda2? Or are they just buying on price, looking at $14,990 as their newcar starting point?
Yes, it matters because the opposition continues to get better — especially Kia and Hyundai with their tuned-forAustralia suspension Mazda says most of the Mazda2 buyers skip straight past base car to something closer $20,000 on the road.
That’s why I’m driving Maxx auto hatch, which starts from $17,690 and brings a lot more standard equipment, including reversing camera. It’s a tidy, effective enjoyable little car, quiet calm.
I admit I can’t feel any benefit from the G-Vectoring Control, even if in Mazda3 it helps with sharper, more responsive cornering, but this is hardly a hot hatch. The Maxx gets the (very slightly) sharper engine tune in Mazda2 range, but it’s still only 81kW and Mazda has not installed the paddle-shifters that signify cars for drivers.
Owners are more likely to be smiling about 4.2L/100km claimed economy than marginally higher outputs in the 1.5-litre engine.
I like bigger infotainment display in Maxx and the head-up instrument display that makes it much easier to keep an eye on my speed. The feel of wheel is good instruments seem clearer.
The update to the Mazda2 brings more comfort and refinement, plus slightly more pleasant relaxed driving.
Mazda knows that is exactly what its buyers want what has made it such a standout in Australian showrooms, as well as leading light on sales for the whole world. It’s lovely little car.