SMALL CAR, BIG VALUE
A cut above regular shopping trolleys, Mazda’s sedan adds quality, fun and safety for its premium
If you’re interested in a small car because it’s easy and enjoyable to zip around town in, with great manoeuvrability, fuel efficiency low running costs, you can now have one
big car bonuses as well, such as the latest safety and infotainment tech, a comfortable, quiet cabin, confident handling reasonable performance.
But you have to spend lot more than $14,990 drive-away, which currently puts in the cheapest seat class, Hyundai’s Accent. One of the best small cars, Mazda2, has just been given a midlife overhaul, with low speed (from 4-30km/h) automatic emergency braking now standard across range. Its only rival AEB is the Skoda Fabia.
A new worksburger variant, Mazda2 GT, adds blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert, with AEB operating in reverse as well, giving it the best safety specification this class.
It will cost you $23,680 plus on roads for sedan, which we’re in today, or five-door hatch, both with a 1.5-litre fourcylinder engine and six-speed automatic transmission. That’s big money for small car. Is it worth that much?
Climb into the GT and it seems a fair price. The cabin features excellent fit finish quality, clean, minimalist styling a sophisticated, hi-tech feel.
test sedan has leather seat bolsters and fake suede facings, soft touch interior trim in dark brown with grey stitching, gloss black plastic MAZDA2 GT PRICE $23,680 WARRANTY 3 years/unlimited km CAPPED SERVICING $1486 over 50,000km SERVICE INTERVAL 12 months/10,000km SAFETY 5 stars, 6 airbags ENGINE 1.5-litre 4-cyl, 81kW/141Nm TRANSMISSION 6-speed auto; FWD THIRST 4.9L/100km DIMENSIONS 4320mm (L), 1695mm (W), 1470mm (H), 2570mm (WB) SPARE Space-saver
fake alloy highlights. Attention to detail befits a more expensive car, from the precise, tactile controls clear, concise instruments, sporty, leatherwrapped steering wheel and retro-look circular air vents.
You sit high on a comfortable, supportive cushion with effective backrest bolstering but only basic manual adjustments. That said, the driving position can be tailored to suit just about anyone and tall people won’t feel cramped in the 2.
Most Japanese Korean brands use touchscreen-only infotainment. Mazda adds much safer, more efficient rotary controller/cursor interface favoured by German makers. Moving around menus is intuitive, complemented calling/email/message Bluetooth functions, voice control that works with phone, audio and navigation, and a head-up display shows speed, speed limits (with 100 per cent accuracy on test) navigation prompts.
Rear seat space is predictably tight for tall passengers but four average sized adults will fit comfortably. A huge boot in the sedan — 440L, compared with hatch’s 250L can be extended with 60-40 split-fold rear seat back. The remote release, as often seems to case, didn’t work on the test car.
In town, the 1.5-litre/six-speed combination delivers best-inclass fuel efficiency. Our car averaged 6-7L/100km on regular unleaded, abetted by an unusual automatic stop/start set-up that requires additional firm press the brake, after you come to a stop, to kill the engine.
You then need give accelerator similarly decisive poke get plot rolling again, because — as in other naturally aspirated petrol fours
torque is short supply at low revs.
Responsive gear shifting then ensures that the 2 moves easily through h the traffic, where transmission’s s extra two ratios, compared with h the four-speedersders in Kia Rio and Toyota Yaris, give the Mazda a telling advantage in performance refinement.
Sport mode, activated via a centre console toggle switch, gives you immediate kickdown to the lower gears for zippy
when need it. Very firm suspension can make ride pretty rugged on bumpy city streets and the test car’s brakes were rather grabby and difficult to modulate at low speeds in heavy traffic.
ON THE ROAD
One of the quietest small cars I’ve driven, 2 cruises effortlessly on highway with
1.5 ticking over at 2250rpm in sixth gear, returning a super frugal 4-5L/100km.
It makes easy work of hills, again due to responsive, sophisticated software that picks the right gear at the right time and prevents hunting.
When you get a few tight corners, can have bit of fun in 2, too.
Sport mode downshifts like hot-hatch transmission, with blip under brakes and keenness for the lower gears, WHAT IT’S GOT Six airbags, stability control, 16-inch alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, rear camera, head-up display, automatic low speed emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, cross traffic alert, seven-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth, voice control, navigation, digital and internet radio, two USB ports, leather/ fake suede upholstery, automatic aircon, space-saver spare. WHAT IT HASN’T Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, rear air vents, radar cruise, lane departure warning, lane keeping. OWNERSHIP Base servicing costs $1486 over five years/50,000km. Service in intervals are 12 months/10,000km. WHAT WE LIKED SuperbSupe quality, elegant design and precision engineering.eng Frugal, refined engine transmissiontra with enough performance to do th the job. Runs on regular unleaded. Classle leading standard safety tech. Sophisticated, us user-friendly infotainment. Agile, enjoyable dy dynamics. Big boot. Strong resale values. WHATWH WE DIDN’T No b bottom end torque. Low speed ride lacks compli compliance. Brakes are a bit grabby in traffic. Vague on-centreonsteering at freeway speeds. Not much covered storages in the cabin. Space-saver spare. Short warranty and service intervals.
TOYOTA YARIS ZR $22,470 1.5-litre/four-speed auto is old, noisy and inefficient compared with the Mazda but it’s well made, cheap to run and includes AEB and lane departure alert. SKODA FABIA MONTE CARLO $23,490 VW Polo mutant with class leading performance from a punchy 1.2-litre turbo/seven-speed dual-clutch auto. AEB standard, radar cruise optional. Wagon adds $1150.
POLO 81TSI COMFORTLINE $21,190 Runs on premium unleaded. AEB, radar cruise and navigation are packaged as a $1900 option.
where the 1.5 (a detuned version of that in base MX-5) pulls willingly and quite strongly between 4000rpm-6500rpm.
Open road dynamics are sporty flavour, with accurate, reasonably communicative steering, disciplined body control, great front end grip and secure roadholding on rough surfaces, where the ride also becomes more compliant because suspension works through of its travel.
The brakes gain pedal feel at speed and have ample
power. The steering lacks oncentre feel, so in freeway cruising you’re constantly making fractional adjustments at the wheel.
Sure, the Mazda2 GT is pricey for a small car but it’s also good value because you get much more than just cheap shopping trolley.
It’s premium quality, wellequipped, precision-engineered little machine with best-in-class safety and a fun-to-drive factor that lifts it above the pack.