THE SURPRISES ABOUND
A SLEEK, ATTRACTIVE AND FUNCTIONAL NEW SEDAN
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 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 standard 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.
Mazda's small sedan is a model of good design.