New Mazda2 gets a price
A sexy price and facelift mark a strategically important car, writes Paul Gover
THERE is very little change in the 2010 model of the Mazda2. Until you look at the bottom line. The smallest member of the Mazda mob picks up the smiley family grille, there are improvements to the rear shock absorbers and the brakes, with standard electronic stability control on all cars, and there is a booted sedan for the first time.
But the biggest change is a $16,999 drive-away price tag.
It’s the reward for sales success and — though Mazda denies it — switching production from high-cost Japan to low-cost Thailand.
Mazda describes the $16,999 sticker as a promotional deal but is not setting any time limit on it, which makes the Two a much tougher rival for a range of opponents from the Hyundai Getz to the Toyota Yaris.
Alastair Doak, marketing manager for Mazda Australia, says: ‘‘We mean business. Mazda2 is very important to us. It’s very important to get customers into the brand at that level.
‘‘It has consistently delivered us a younger audience and more first-time car buyers. It’s playing its role as the stepping stone into the line-up.’’
The new four-door model— which comes at the expense of the threedoor Two — is the first sedan since Mazda’s long-loved 121 ‘‘bubble’’ back in 1990. It opens up a 450-litre boot, compared with the 250-litre capacity of the hatch.
But the sedan is only available with the mid-level Maxx package — including alloy wheels and six-disc CD sound— but it costs no more than the hatch at $19,090.
‘‘If you look at other sedans, they are much more conservative than the hatches. Ours keeps the sporty look, but it’s perhaps a little more grown-up and refined,’’ Doak says.
The 2010 model Two is a facelift of a car which hit in late 2007 and has tripled showroom sales of the car, as well as slashing the average age of owners, from 52 to 43.
The mechanical package of the Mazda2 is unchanged, which means a 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine with 76kW/ 135Nm, either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic gearbox turning the front wheels, four-wheel disc brakes and front MacPherson struts with a torsion beam for the rear suspension.
Mazda says the weight of the body is down 22kg with more strength in the shell, giving it five-star protection.
The equipment levels are unchanged at Neo, Maxx and Genki, which means every car gets aircon- ditioning, four airbags, electronic stability control, anti-skid brakes and remote central locking.
So, are passion and spirit missing?
I WOULD love to report a major change in the way the Mazda2 drives. Or feels.
But, to me, it feels the same as the previous model. Perhaps, just perhaps, there is a little more compliance in the suspension. And a bit more feel to the brake pedal. But that’s it. There is nothing to report from the engine room and the dashboard is just as I remembered.
Mazda says the new Two is a better drive than the Ford Fiesta. But I disagree. It’s not as sharp, simple as that. Even so, the Two is a tidy package and a car which works very well for the people who buy them — and choose it ahead of the Fiesta or the