The Mazda 2 sedan is roomier inside than it appears and the manual version is surprisingly enjoyable to drive. Unlike some small sedans which look like a hatchback with an emergency boot transplant, a lot of thought seems to have gone into the design.
- I think it looks better than the hatchback from most angles with a nice curvy profile that, despite its short length, shows a strong family resemblance to the bigger Mazda sedans.
- It feels pretty roomy for a compact car. The front seats are comfortable and whole legroom is at a premium in the back there’s plenty of arm and headroom for two adults.
- The interior is well put together and has a nice general appeal to it, unlike other small cars that tend to go overboard in trying to appeal with younger drivers. Extras in the Mazda 2 Maxx include a seven-inch touch screen that sits on the dash that is easily controlled with a dial on the centre console, though inputting satnav directions is a chore.
- Compact cars aren’t usually the most exciting rides but the short-shifting manual gearbox make for enjoyable driving. It goes well, has nimble steering but doesn’t feel as floaty as some small cars. It even has a throaty, sports-car-like exhaust note. The 1.5-litre, four-cylinder, SKYACTIV-Drive petrol engine is more than enough and it’s quite economical despite revving well beyond 2000rpm at 100km/h in sixth gear.
- The small boot lid opens to reveal a 440-litre cargo area that’s considerably bigger than the 250-litres at the back of the hatch. It’s not the biggest in its class though it does hold more than the larger Mazda 3 sedan.
- The easy shifting manual gearbox has one flaw. When moving the stick forward into first gear it was too easy to inadvertently push it down and into reverse gear, which isn’t much fun at traffic lights.
- LCD displays on either side of the speedometer that show the tacho, fuel contents and trip computer info can be difficult to see on a bright day.
ANY RIVALS I SHOULD CONSIDER?
For the size and price the main rivals would be the four-door versions of the Holden Barina, Honda City, Hyundai Accent, Mitsubishi Mirage and the Toyota Yaris. Having driven all but the Mirage I reckon the Mazda 2 is right up there in terms of quality and driver enjoyment.