Perhaps one reason the previous two incarnations of the Mazda2 were so good was because they were closely related to the Ford Fiesta. But Mazda’s platform-sharing days with Ford cars are behind us, and the new Mazda2 is constructed using the same lighter, efficient Skyactiv techniques as the CX-5, Mazda3 and Mazda6.
So, despite being a longer car than its predecessor, the new model tips the scales at a little under a tonne for petrol models, compared with a little over for the current Mazda2.
And, whereas some manufacturers have given up on diesel for some small cars, Mazda has added a new 1.5 D engine to the Skyactiv family that produces 105hp in the Mazda2, with CO2 emissions from 89g/km.
However, petrol small cars have a strong presence in the fleet sector. We tried the 90hp version with the standard five-speed manual, as well as the optional six-speed automatic. It is the middle engine choice in the line-up with 75hp and 115hp variants also available.
The engine is punchy and refined. Maximum torque in the 90hp engine equals that of the more powerful 115hp motor, although the more powerful car gets a six-speed manual transmission as standard. Mazda seems to have worked hard on quality and refinement in the Mazda2: the cabin is well finished and, while the dashboard top is still hard plastic, it doesn’t look cheap.
The car is available with 15- or 16-inch wheels and, rather than let ride quality suffer with low-profile tyres, the 65- and 60-section rubber seems to cushion a low-speed ride. But the Mazda2 also grips well when cornering vigorously. The steering, although fully electric and power-assisted, lacks a little in feel – but is nevertheless responsive and precise.
The entry level SE has steel wheels, electrically-adjustable door mirrors, height-adjustable driver’s seat, reach and height-adjustable steering, a CD radio, steering wheel mounted audio controls, remote central-locking, electric front windows, stop/start and air conditioning. SE-L adds alloy wheels, power-folding mirrors, front fog lamps, leather covered steering wheel and gearknob, split rear seats, Bluetooth, cruise control and rear electric windows.
Choosing SE-L with a 90hp engine includes a seven-inch colour touch screen, Mazda’s multimedia commander and DAB. All models have six airbags, electronic stability control, hill-hold assist and emergency braking assistance. Choosing SE-L or higher adds lane-departure warning and autonomous emergency braking at low speed.
There might not be attention grabbing low-priced versions, such as with the Vauxhall Corsa, but the Mazda2 is exceptionally well-equipped for the money.