2017 Mazda2 Review

2015 Mazda2

Priced From $14,990Information

Overall Rating

0

4.5 out of 5 stars

Rating breakdown
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Safety, value & features

4 out of 5 stars

Comfort & space

4 out of 5 stars

Engine & gearbox

5 out of 5 stars

Ride & handling

5 out of 5 stars

Technology

5 out of 5 stars

Pros & Cons

  1. ProFun to drive; very easy on fuel; appealing design.

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

  3. The Pick: 2017 Mazda 2 Maxx 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. Strong retained values and a 12-month service interval help make it a smart choice.

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.

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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Cruise control, power windows, and an AM/FM radio with a single-disc CD player and USB input.

Audio controls on the steering wheel, and hands-free Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity.

Hill launch assist, which controls the brakes automatically when you need to start from rest on an uphill slope.

Air-conditioning, push-button keyless start, and a tilt and reach adjustable steering column.

Rear parking sensors.

Six airbags: two directly in front of the driver and front passenger; one alongside each front occupant to protect the upper body; and curtain airbags to protect the heads of front and rear occupants from side impacts.

Electronic stability control, which can help the driver to control a skidding car. All new cars must have this feature.

An option available on all Mazda2s for about $400 is Smart City Brake Support, a form of automatic emergency braking that operates at speeds below 30km/h. The brakes are applied if a sensor detects a looming obstacle – typically a car in front slowing sharply.

Every Mazda2 carries a three-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 variants, the Maxx and the Genki.

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 comparison test of nine light cars published in the March 2015 edition of Wheels magazine, the Mazda2 Neo recorded an average real-world fuel consumption of 7.1 litres/100km. That placed it among the most frugal of the group, bested only by the Volkswagen Polo and Honda Jazz – and then not by much.

The Mazda 2 is offered with either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission.

What key features do I get if I spend more?

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The Mazda 2 Maxx comes with a reversing camera, and a 7.0-inch touchscreen loaded with the Pandora, Stitcher and Aha internet radio apps. Its steering wheel and gear-lever handle are trimmed in leather. Wheels are made from aluminium alloy and look nicer than the plastic-trimmed steel wheels on the least costly model, the Mazda2 Neo.

The Maxx’s high-spec engine has a feature which shuts it down when the car stops, and starts it again when the driver presses the accelerator. That is one reason why it will use slightly less fuel than the standard-spec engine in the Neo.

The most expensive Mazda2, the Genki, also has satellite navigation, foglights, and extremely long-lived LED headlamps that switch on automatically when it gets dark. 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.

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

An S-Pack option for the Genki offers enhanced interior trim with seats covered partly in leather, and Smart City Brake Support. It costs about $1400.

Does any upgrade have a down side?

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The Genki’s wheels can’t turn as far left and right inside its wheel arches as the smaller wheels on the lower-spec models, which extends its minimum turning circle 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.

Cloth-trimmed 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 marks a big improvement, but it’s 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.

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 Mazda 2 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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Stability control, six airbags, rear parking sensors and seatbelt reminders for all seats contribute to a safety rating of Very Good for the Neo, while the addition of a reversing camera lifts the Maxx and Genki to Excellent. The Genki also has helpful features such as automatic windscreen wipers and headlamps.

Adding low-speed automatic emergency braking to any version from the options list (Smart City Brake Support) would improve security in traffic. Mazda has left that choice to the buyer.

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.

(To see a list of the safety features on any model, select the car and look under the features tab. Safety-related features are listed in red.)

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

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. Both the hatchback and the sedan drive like more grown-up cars with good reason: the 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.

Even the lower powered 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. 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 its capacious Japanese rival 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 offers this, for example (from March 2016).

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

The Renault 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 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 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 Mazda 2 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.

It is likely we’ll likely see a mid-life update about 2018.