2019 Mazda 2 Range Review

2017 Mazda2 GT

Priced From $15,570Information

Overall Rating


4.5 out of 5 stars

Rating breakdown
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Safety, value & features

5 out of 5 stars

Comfort & space

4 out of 5 stars

Engine & gearbox

4 out of 5 stars

Ride & handling

5 out of 5 stars


4 out of 5 stars

Pros & Cons

  1. ProFun to drive; easy on fuel; auto braking standard.

  2. ConTiny tachometer - but at least it has one.

  3. The Pick: 2019 Mazda 2 Maxx (5YR) 5D Hatchback

What stands out?

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The Mazda2 looks good, feels nice inside, and is more fun to drive than most city cars. Its 1.5-litre engine is very easy on fuel, and delivers plenty of power. Auto braking is standard, on both the hatch and the sedan.

What might bug me?

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Not much – and particularly since August 2015, when Mazda added cruise control to the least costly models.

Perhaps squinting at the tiny tachometer if you want to know what the engine is doing.

Possibly that you can’t play CDs, if that is how you like to store your music. Mazda2s on sale since the update of April 2017 don’t have a player.

The spare tyre is a space saver, and its 80km/h recommended top speed could bother you if you get a flat far from home. But for a car intended mainly for city use, it’s a defensible choice because it frees up some boot space.

What body styles are there?

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Five-door hatchback and four-door sedan.

The Mazda2 drives its front wheels, and it is classed as a light car, lower priced.

What features do all Mazda2s have?

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A sound system with an AM/FM radio, Aux and USB inputs, Bluetooth connectivity for phone calls and audio streaming, and at least four speakers.

Cruise control, power windows, air-conditioning, and push-button start.

Buttons on the steering wheel for operating the cruise control, the sound system, and your phone.

Hill launch assist, which helps you start on an uphill slope by controlling the brakes automatically.

Rear parking sensors.

G-Vectoring Control, a Mazda technology that makes the car respond more consistently to the steering wheel.

City-speed autonomous emergency braking (Mazda calls this Smart City Brake Support – Forward).

Six airbags. Electronic stability control, which can help you control a skidding car and is mandatory on new cars. (For the placement of airbags, and for more on Mazda2 safety systems, please open the Safety section below.)

Every Mazda2 carries a five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty.

Which engine uses least fuel, and why wouldn't I choose it?

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The engine that Mazda calls the ‘high-spec’ 1.5-litre petrol four-cylinder, which consumes as little as 4.9 litres/100km with an automatic transmission, based on official test figures. The Mazda2 is one of the most fuel-efficient city cars.

This engine is also more powerful than the ‘standard spec’ version of the same engine, which is the only other engine supplied with a Mazda2.

The main reason you would not choose the high-spec engine is that it powers only the more costly models - the Maxx, Genki and GT - and you want to pay less for your Mazda2.

The other reason is that in daily use, it differs very little from the standard-spec engine supplied with the Neo, whether you are talking fuel economy or power delivery.

In a real-world comparison conducted for the March 2015 edition of Wheels magazine, a Mazda2 Neo with this engine consumed 7.1 litres/100km on average. That placed it among the most frugal of nine light cars reviewed, bested only by the Volkswagen Polo and Honda Jazz – and then not by much.

The high-spec engine has a feature that allows it to shut down automatically when the car stops, and start again when you take your foot off the brake to drive away. That is one reason why it will use slightly less fuel than the standard-spec engine in the Neo.

At every trim level, the Mazda2 is offered with either a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic.

What key features do I get if I spend more?

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The least costly Mazda2 is the Neo, which comes with the standard-spec engine, cloth seats, 15-inch steel wheels with plastic trim, and the features in all Mazda2s.

Spend more for a Mazda 2 Maxx and you get the high-spec engine, a reversing camera, a DAB+ digital radio receiver, and a 7.0-inch touchscreen loaded with the Pandora, Stitcher and Aha internet radio apps. The steering wheel and gear-lever handle are trimmed in leather, and your music comes from six speakers rather than four. Wheels are made from aluminium alloy, and therefore look nice enough not to need pesky plastic trim. And your auto braking also works in reverse.

Spend more again on a Mazda2 Genki and you get in addition satellite navigation, extremely long-lived LED headlamps that switch on automatically when it gets dark, and windscreen wipers that operate automatically when it rains. Climate-control air conditioning maintains a set temperature. Wheel rims are an inch bigger at 16 inches, fitted with tyres of a slightly lower profile, which bring a racier look and marginally sharper steering response. LED daytime running lights help other drivers see you. The exterior mirrors fold automatically against the body when you lock the car (to keep them out of harm’s way). And you gain two rear-facing sensory driver aids: Blind-spot monitoring, and a Rear cross-traffic alert.

The Genki is available only as a hatchback. Satellite navigation can be ordered as an extra-cost option on the Maxx hatch and sedan.

The most expensive Mazda2 is the GT, which comes as a hatch and a sedan and arrived with the update of April 2017. In the hatch, the essential change from the Genki is white leather on the seats and white (mainly) soft-touch materials elsewhere in the cabin. In the sedan, the seat leather is black and the soft-touch trim brown. Both body styles also get the features of the Genki hatch.

Does any upgrade have a down side?

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Wheels on the Genki and GT can’t turn as far left and right inside the wheel arches as the smaller wheels on the lower-spec models, which extends their minimum turning circles by about half a metre.

Seven metallic and pearl/mica colours are available standard. An eighth, Soul Red Metallic, costs about $200 extra.

How comfortable is the Mazda2?

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Elegant design, high-quality plastics and pleasantly tactile controls bring a sense of maturity to the Mazda2 that is found in few other cars of this size or price.

Front seats provide good support for drives of up to two hours, and the driving position is comfortable – thanks in part to the tilt and reach adjustable steering column.

Tyre noise is a long-time Mazda bugbear. The 2 marked a big improvement when launched, but was not as quiet as the refinement benchmark for the class, the Volkswagen Polo. The tyre roar is most noticeable on coarse-surface country roads – in the city, it’s not such a problem. Mazda added insulation for the update of April 2017, which has helped.

In contrast, the Mazda’s ability to isolate its occupants from a bumpy road surface places it among the most comfortable light cars at open-road speeds.

The Mazda2 is measured in its steering response. The initial turn of the wheel brings a smooth change of direction – a pleasant change from the previous-generation car’s over-eagerness. Similarly, the car responds progressively to the accelerator and brake pedals.

What about safety in a Mazda2?

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Every Mazda2 has the mandatory stability control, rear parking sensors, seatbelt reminders for all seats, six airbags, and city-speed auto emergency braking – a broadly based safety package that stands out among cars of this size and price.

Thin, well located A-pillars (those either side of the windscreen) afford good vision for tight corners and roundabouts, increasing primary safety – with help from exterior mirrors that are mounted on the doors rather than in the corners of the windows.

The airbags are in the usual places, offering more side protection in the front than in the rear. There are two airbags directly in front of the driver and front passenger; one outside each front seat to protect front occupants from side impacts at chest level; and curtain airbags extending down each side that protect front and rear occupants from side impacts at head level.

The standard auto-braking system is Mazda’s Smart City Brake Support – Forward. It relies on a laser sensor and is effective at speeds below 30km/h. If the sensor detects a looming obstacle – typically another car that has slowed suddenly – the car will warn you of the risk, and if necessary apply the brakes automatically. The idea is to save you the indignity, expense, and injury risk, of low-speed rear-end collisions arising from your inattention – or others’ sudden braking or swerving – in heavy traffic.

The Mazda2 Maxx gains a reversing camera, and its auto-braking also works in reverse – making it less likely you will back into another object or person.

Mazda2 Genkis and GTs use rear-facing radars also, to provide Blind-spot monitoring and a Rear cross-traffic alert. The former warns you of other vehicles lurking near your rear corners, which might not appear in your mirrors. The latter checks behind you when you are reversing – say from a driveway or shopping-centre parking space – and lets you know if another vehicle is about to cross behind you.

The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) awarded the Mazda2 hatch and sedan five stars for safety, its maximum, in September 2015.

I like driving - will I enjoy this car?

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Yes. The Mazda2 is among the best light car choices for buyers who enjoy their driving. Hatchback and sedan drive like more grown-up cars with good reason: their chassis is a revised version of that found beneath the larger Mazda3.

The Mazda2 inspires confidence and is fun to thread along a favourite country road. Responsiveness and feedback from the steering increase as you turn the wheel further into a corner.

Mazda2s on sale since an update of April 2017 benefit from mildly modified suspension aimed at helping the car ride and corner more steadily. In addition they gained Mazda’s G-Vectoring Control, which manipulates the engine imperceptibly when you turn the steering wheel - transferring weight to the front tyres in a way that is said to improve feel and response from the steering.

Even the lower powered, ‘standard-spec’ engine is energetic. It sounds good too, and is fun to rev on the open road.

The Mazda2’s automatic gearbox chooses the right gear decisively. And the manual gearbox is one of the best at this price level: it is smooth and satisfying to operate.

How is life in the rear seats?

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The bench rear seat offers good shoulder and leg room for two, and a comfortable cushion. On the negative side, a rising window line and large front headrests limit vision, which might be a factor for children.

The seat can carry three passengers, with lap and sash belts for all. Squeezing three adults across the back of a Mazda 2 – or any light car – is a recipe for discomfort over the long haul. However, it’s handy to be able to do so for short trips.

How is it for carrying stuff?

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The Mazda2 hatchback, although small, is quite good at swallowing cargo. The boot aperture is smaller than those of some alternatives, however. Mazda quotes cargo capacity at 250 litres with the 60/40 folding seatbacks upright.

Unlike those in Honda’s Jazz, the seatbacks don’t quite fold flat, and the Mazda can’t match the capacious Jazz for luggage space.

The Mazda2 Sedan has significantly more boot space at 440 litres.

Where is the Mazda2 made?

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The Japanese-designed Mazda2 is manufactured in the brand’s Rayong, Thailand, plant.

What might I miss that similar cars have?

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The ability to use and display your smartphone and its apps on the touchscreen, via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto: the smaller Holden Spark and the Suzuki Ignis micro-SUV offer this, for example.

Turbocharged light cars such as the Renault Clio and Volkswagen Polo respond more eagerly to the accelerator pedal – particularly from low speeds.

The Clio has a five-year warranty, and the Kia Rio is warrantied for seven years.

Other light cars worth considering include the Honda Jazz, Suzuki Swift, Ford Fiesta, Peugeot 208, and Hyundai Accent.

I like this car, but I can't choose which version. Can you help?

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Sure. The Mazda 2 Maxx, in either hatch or sedan, is our pick of the line-up. Both bring desirable features such as alloy wheels, a reversing camera and better infotainment, without the expense of the Genki flagship.

However, the Neo, with auto-braking now standard, is an appealing base model that represents very good value.

Are there plans to update the Mazda2 soon?

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This third-generation Mazda2 arrived in late 2014 as a hatchback, and a sedan was added in late August 2015. With the arrival of the sedan, cruise control was added to Neo versions of both body styles, and Maxx and Genki models gained reversing cameras.

A more comprehensive update arrived in April 2017, dropping the CD player but bringing Mazda’s G-Vectoring Control to enhance cornering, and making auto-braking standard (it had been optional). Blind-spot monitoring and Rear cross-traffic alert were added at the Genki and new GT trim level.

An all-new Mazda2 is not expected before 2019.