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 and low running costs, you can now have one with big car bonuses as well, such as the latest safety and infotainment tech, a comfortable, quiet cabin, confident handling and reasonable performance.
But you have to spend a lot more than $14,990 drive-away, which currently puts you in the cheapest seat in the class, Hyundai’s Accent.
One of the best small cars, the Mazda2, has just been given a midlife overhaul, with low speed (from 4-30km/h) automatic emergency braking now standard across the range. Its only rival with standard 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 in this class.
It will cost you $23,680 plus on roads for the sedan, which we’re in today, or the five-door hatch, both with a 1.5-litre fourcylinder engine and six-speed automatic transmission. That’s big money for a small car. Is it worth that much?
Climb into the GT and it seems a fair price. The cabin features excellent fit and finish quality, clean, minimalist styling and a sophisticated, hi-tech feel.
The test sedan has leather seat bolsters and fake suede facings, soft touch interior trim in dark brown with grey stitching, gloss black plastic and fake alloy highlights. Attention to detail befits a more expensive car, from the precise, tactile controls to clear, concise instruments, a 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 and Korean brands use touchscreen-only infotainment. Mazda adds the much safer, more efficient rotary controller/cursor interface favoured by German makers.
Moving around menus is intuitive, complemented by calling/email/message Bluetooth functions, voice control that works with phone, audio and navigation, and a head-up display that shows speed, speed limits (with 100 per cent accuracy on test) and 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 the hatch’s 250L — can be extended with the 60-40 split-fold rear seat back. The remote boot release, as often seems to be the case, didn’t work on the test car.
In town, the 1.5-litre/six-speed combination delivers best-in-