Mazda expects bigger numbers of its all-new sub-compact for 2015 to be parked in man-caves.
WHAT IS IT?
The Mazda 2 is the company’s smallest passenger car in Australia, which this year is the second-best seller in the light-car market, behind the Hyundai i20. This all-new model comes seven years after the last and is the fourth Mazda Australia model to feature its SkyActiv chassis and engine technology
WHY WE’RE TESTING IT
To find out if SkyActiv tech makes the new version even better than its highly regarded predecessor.
Hyundai i20 Elite, Toyota Yaris YRX, VW Polo 81TSI, Ford Fiesta Sport, Holden Barina CDX, Suzuki Swift GLX
The latest Mazda 2 looks destined to regain its place as the light hatch of choice.
PLUS: Much improved ride, road-holding and noise suppression; less gender-specific looks; appealing interior; excellent fuel economy
MINUS: No great enthusiasm for hills; cramped rear seat; no rear camera
THE WHEELS REVIEW
MAZDA insists its totally new 2 will pull an increased number of male buyers, compared to the take-up of the old model that skewed around 70 percent female.
The superseded car looked girlish and appealed mainly to young females between 22 and 35, and older empty nesters. But the new five-door hatch, with its cab-rearward look, is styled to not send the fellas screaming for the (showroom) exit, and Mazda has pointedly introduced a welcome dynamic edge to the new chassis.
The females won’t mind, while the blokes will relish a little hatch that, though more tepid than hot, hits twisty roads with something approaching pleasure.
It responds crisply when turning into corners, changes direction pleasantly without betraying unseemly road manners, and is rarely unsettled when it bounces off a scarred or bumpy stretch of bitumen.
Importantly, Mazda has worked diligently at reducing what we’ve come to recognise as something of a pox on its products – NVH. Tyre hum and road noise is subdued and the ride quality rivals that of its Euro competitor, the VW Polo.
Front seat accommodation is improved, too, with the front wheels moved forwards to give better leg room and a nicer seating position for bigger people.
Rear-seat space continues to be cramped, but Mazda says most owners don’t use the back seats.
Fuel efficiency is a standout, the best ever in a Mazda, and helped by idle-stop, tall cruising transmission ratios and smart engine technology.
The three equipment levels of the previous 2 return with the new car.
The base Neo gets a 79kW/139Nm version of the 1.5-litre four with a softer compression ratio and a slight drop in power and torque, available in manual and auto, and with keen pricing starting at $14,990.
The higher-spec engine of the more expensive, better-featured Maxx and Genki variants produces 81kW and 141Nm while managing a sensational official 4.9L/100km (we recorded 5.8 on a mix of urban running and winding, climbing rural roads). Of all the light cars on the market, only VW’s Polo 66TSI is more fuel-thrifty, but the Polo drinks more costly premium unleaded.
The new Mazda 2 engine is no powerhouse, but is adequate for city and highway driving, though a little lethargic on climbs.
It’s certainly better value for money, with all grades cheaper than their outgoing equivalents.
Mazda has launched the new 2 with driveaway pricing starting from $16,990 for the Neo. The highly specced auto Genki featured here, with lots of good gear and a classier cabin, is offered at $21,990. Optional rear parking camera is a $420 extra across all grades.
Key equipment from the bigger Mazda 3 has been handed on to its smaller sibling. This includes the Kodo design language, auto and manual gearboxes, much of the SkyActiv engine technology, MZD connectivity system with seven-inch centre display and apps, HMI (Human Interface Machine) with Commander control, and multi-function steering wheel.
Model: 2015 Mazda2 Genki
Engine: 1496cc in-line 4cyl, dohc, 16v
Max power: 81kW @ 6000rpm
Max torque: 141Nm @ 4000rpm
Transmission: 6-speed auto
Fuel economy: 4.9/100km