THE SUR­PRISES ABOUND

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - Drive Way -

1.5litre en­gine, though there's a mi­nor dif­fer­ence in out­put. The Neo has a 79kW and 139Nm pow­er­train and the Maxx gets just a couple of kilo­Watts and New­ton me­tres more.

The car is a bit light on stan- dard equip­ment, with no re­vers­ing cam­era, sat­nav or ra­dio in­ter­net con­nec­tion and there's a ba­sic four-speaker au­dio with a sin­gle CD player.

But it does come with Blue­tooth con­nec­tiv­ity, a clear cen­tral speedome­ter flanked by a tiny rev counter and trip com­puter data, a USB port, and the cen­tre of the dash houses a lit­tle mul­ti­me­dia screen.

The in­te­rior is comfy, quite roomy, and for­ward vis­i­bil­ity and gen­eral fin­ish is fine.

It's qui­eter in­side than ex­pected, nor did we ex­pect a prox­im­ity key and push-but­ton start, but those were wel­come sur­prises. As was the drive.

The mo­tor is smooth and will­ing and the short-throw man­ual gear­box was su­perb. Like­wise the newly-tuned steer­ing, which is now quicker and adds to the plea­sure of driv­ing, es­pe­cially through the bends.

The car runs on 15-inch steel wheels shod with 185/65 tyres.

The smart sedan has a mass of just over 1000kg, so the mo­tor doesn't have to work hard too quickly get into the brisk area, and it's more ef­fi­cient than ever.

Of­fi­cial av­er­age fuel consumption for the man­ual is 5.4litres/100km. We got 6.2 in our real world con­di­tions: very im­pres­sive.

Big on safety too, with front, side and cur­tain airbags and loads of elec­tronic driver aids.

Here's an­other pleas­antry: there's a con­tented growl from the en­gine when it runs at around 3000rpm.

Ver­dict: One of the most stylish and ef­fi­cient small sedans on the mar­ket.

STYLE is the most im­por­tant sin­gle fac­tor in car sales and Mazda has used it to great ef­fect in its new Mazda2 sedan.

Un­like some makers who just tack a boot on to a hatch, of­ten with unattrac­tive re­sults, Mazda has left the nose of the car alone but come up with a sleek tail for an at­trac­tive and func­tional over­all ef­fect.

Apart from look­ing good, the sedan, 260mm longer than the hatch, has a gi­ant boot that can be greatly ex­tended by a sim­ple lever in the cargo area.

No need to open the back doors and lift catches, fold seats down, and so on.

The sedan comes in Neo and Maxx spec lev­els, with prices start­ing from $14,990 for the Neo with six-speed man­ual.

That's the one we're look­ing at here. You can also get it with a six-speed au­to­matic but that's $2000 ex­tra.

Neo and Maxx both get a Mazda's small sedan is a model of good de­sign.

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