Western Suburbs Weekly - - Drive Way - Derek Og­den

IN a world where con­nec­tiv­ity is king and so­cial me­dia, like a hatchback, can lay bare through the 'rear win­dow' even the most per­sonal in­for­ma­tion, there are peo­ple who pre­fer to hang on to their pri­vacy.

In au­to­mo­tive terms, they are the sedan folk who like to lock away pos­ses­sions out of sight in a car boot, so Mazda has in­tro­duced a sedan ver­sion of its pop­u­lar Mazda2.

While the hatch and sedan share prices – start­ing at $14,990 for the Neo man­ual – the sedan misses out on the high-end Genki vari­ant that tops the hatch range.

The $19,690 Maxx sits in the mid­dle of the range and the hatch ver­sion of that was our test car.

There's no dis­guis­ing the Mazda-ness of the '2', with the front tak­ing on the brand DNA.

The cabin takes on high ideals with cues taken from small air­craft.

The in­stru­ment panel spreads like the wings of a plane; the round air­con­di­tion­ing lou­vres re­sem­ble jet en­gines; the ra­di­at­ing lines of the door trim con­vey the im­age of air flow­ing from a jet en­gine.

Next-gen­er­a­tion HMI (Hu­man Ma­chine In­ter­face) with Com­man­der con­trol knob on the cen­tre con­sole, al­lows easy ac­cess to nav­i­ga­tion, com­mu­ni­ca­tions and mul­ti­me­dia, in­clud­ing so­cial me­dia via MZD Con­nect.

Sev­eral func­tions can be con­trolled by voice ac­ti­va­tion, in­clud­ing switch­ing menus, au­dio play, stop and skip func­tions, sta­tion se­lec­tion, as well as zoom­ing in and out of the nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem maps.

With a mo­bile mu­sic player or smart­phone con­nected to the on­board head unit via USB, voice com­mands can also be used to search for songs by artist name, or to call phone num­bers stored in the phone's con­tact list.

Of two en­gines avail­able to the Mazda2, the Maxx takes the up­rated 1.5-litre Sky­ac­tiv-G four­cylin­der pro­duc­ing 81kW and 141Nm, and is cou­pled with a sixspeed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion.

The lat­ter al­lows driv­ers to press a switch on the shift gate to switch to the Sport drive mode.

Avail­able across the range is the Smart City Brake Sup­port op­tion, which, when driv­ing at low speeds (4km/h-30km/h) around town, au­to­mat­i­cally ap­plies the brakes to pre­vent col­lid­ing with the ve­hi­cle ahead, or re­duce the amount of dam­age in the event an ac­ci­dent can­not be avoided.

There's good space in the Mazda2 Maxx cabin, with am­ple head and shoul­der room for the av­er­age-size oc­cu­pants in front, while the rear leg room is ad­e­quate.

Rear seat­backs fold to in­crease cargo car­ry­ing ca­pac­ity from 250litres.

And with one side of the 60:40 di­vi­sion dropped, it will take a golf bag or sim­i­lar long load.

In­stru­ments are clear and easy to read, as is the 7.0-inch screen perched on top of the cen­tral dash­board, con­ve­niently at driver's eye level.

Mazda claims 4.9litres/100km fuel con­sump­tion on av­er­age.

The car han­dled con­fi­dently with­out sus­pen­sion trauma, and park­ing, with the aid of the re­vers­ing cam­era and its guide­lines, was a dod­dle.

Sport mode had the en­gine hold­ing the revs be­fore gear changes, mak­ing lots of noise but not much ac­tion in per­for­mance.

Stick to sav­ing fuel in Nor­mal mode is my ad­vice.

Led by the likes of the Mazda2, lit­tle cars have come a long way with qual­ity fin­ish and fit­tings and the lat­est in en­gine tech­nol­ogy, mul­ti­me­dia and con­nec­tiv­ity.

Mazda2's lat­est Maxx hatch. Ver­dict:

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