MAZDA2 NEO SEDAN
VERDICT A tight one. The Honda is bigger and has more equipment but the Mazda is cheaper and more fun to drive.
The cheapest model in the range doesn’t get a centre screen, which means it also doesn’t get a reversing camera, only rear parking sensors. Servicing, at 12 months/10,000km intervals, costs a reasonable $873 over three years. Gets standard power mirrors and windows, as well as Bluetooth, USB port and auxiliary jack. Cruise control and push button start are standard.
The Mazda is probably the best-looking of the small sedans. It looks like an integrated design, where others look like a hatch with a boot stuck on. Inside it’s not as roomy as the Honda and the lack of a centre screen makes the cabin look and feel like the cheapest model in the range. The interior is well-finished, however, and looks more attractive inside than the Honda. Rear legroom is not nearly as generous but the 440Lboot is large for a small car.
The little 1.5-litre is surprisingly perky, despite its modest 79kW/139Nm outputs. That might have something to do with the fact that the Mazda weighs barely more than a tonne. The sixspeed transmission is smooth shifting and the fuel consumption is impressive, at just 5.5L/ 100km.
The Mazda2 gets a five-star crash rating, with an impressive 36.35 points out of a possible 37. No reversing camera but there are six airbags and seat belt reminders for all five passengers. The Mazda also activates the hazard lights if it senses an emergency stop.
The Mazda feels nimble on the road, with light steering for around town and a composed demeanour on the open road. It feels secure through corners and rides comfortably, although there is some road and tyre noise over rougher surfaces.