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In-depth reviews

Mazda2 hatchback review

“The Mazda2 is a supermini with neat styling, tidy handling and low running costs”

Carbuyer Rating

3.4 out of 5

Owners Rating

4.7 out of 5

Read owner reviews

Pros

  • Good-looking inside and out
  • Well-equipped
  • Sharp handling

Cons

  • Engines can feel lethargic
  • Not as practical as rivals
  • Interior starting to show its age

Verdict - Is the Mazda2 a good car?

The Mazda2 used to be an overlooked but worthwhile alternative to the Ford Fiesta, Renault Clio and Toyota Yaris. Although it was updated for 2021 with mild-hybrid assistance, in other respects it now feels dated compared to its main rivals. The Mazda2 has been on sale for quite a long time now and feels closer in character to the previous version of the Mazda3 than the brand’s newer models, such as the CX-30 and the current Mazda3.

Mazda2 models, specs and alternatives

Speaking of the Yaris, you can now buy a Mazda2 Hybrid, which is a rebadged Toyota and is Mazda’s first ‘full’ hybrid. It’s on sale alongside the Mazda2 you see here, so for the time being Mazda offers two different models with the same name. Make sure the salespeople you’re dealing with know which one you want; the Hybrid has a more expensive starting price.

The best small cars and superminis 2023Top 10 best small cars and superminis 2024

Despite starting to feel like a last-generation car, the Mazda2 still has its plus points. It’s still one of the best superminis to drive, with an excellent manual gearbox, and there’s a fairly generous array of standard equipment. Build quality is good and the updated 2 even promises fuel economy of up to 60mpg, making it one of the most economical petrol cars on sale.

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The interior does look a little more budget when you inspect the plastics that have been used for areas that aren’t in immediate view but this is true of most of the competition. With five doors, access to the rear seats is easy and there’s enough space for adults to sit fairly comfortably in the back. Boot space stands at 255 litres, which is pretty small for a modern supermini; rivals like the Skoda Fabia, Volkswagen Polo and Honda Jazz show how practical a supermini can be – these cars all offer at least 350 litres of space.

The Mazda2 is only available with one engine but it comes with three different power outputs. A 1.5-litre petrol engine is the only option, and it’s available with either 74bhp, 89bhp or 113bhp. The two more powerful versions have fuel-saving mild-hybrid technology if you choose a manual gearbox. While not class-leading, the Mazda2 returns decent fuel economy of between 52.3mpg and 60.1mpg, depending on spec, and a low Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) rating for company-car drivers.

The 74bhp version of the 1.5-litre engine gets the car from 0-62mph in 11.3 seconds and is only offered on the entry-level Centre-Line trim, which leads us to recommend the more powerful 89bhp version. Not only is it now more efficient but it’s also faster, dispatching the 0-62mph sprint in 9.8 seconds. An automatic gearbox is available on this engine, but it’s significantly slower and noticeably less economical so very difficult to recommend. A new 113bhp version of the engine joined the range in 2021 but is only available in the expensive top-spec Homura Aka model; the 89bhp engine will definitely be the sweet spot for most buyers.

The Mazda2 is one of the best superminis to drive thanks to accurate steering and well-judged suspension, that resists roll in corners. What’s particularly impressive is that the chassis is still sufficiently compliant to deal with poor road surfaces. The action of the manual gearbox is excellent too, taking inspiration from the shifter in the Mazda MX-5 sports car.

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The Mazda2’s trim levels were updated for 2021 to SE-L, Sport, GT Sport and GT Sport Tech, but these were changed once again in 2023 as part of a minor overhaul. They’re now called: Centre-Line, Exclusive-Line, Homura and Homura Aka.

Even the standard Centre-Line model gets a comprehensive list of standard equipment: 15-inch alloy wheels, heated power-folding mirrors, electric windows all around and 60:40 split-fold rear seats are all included. It also offers Bluetooth, cruise control, a speed limiter, parking sensors, rain-sensing wipers and LED headlights. It used to feature a basic radio unit but now gets an eight-inch touchscreen, with DAB radio and sat nav, plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

It’s worth noting that choosing the 89bhp engine rather than the 74bhp one also gets you autonomous emergency braking and lane-keeping assist.

Exclusive-Line trim has bigger wheels, keyless entry, LED daytime running lights and a reversing camera. Choosing the Homura grade gives the car a different look, with black alloy wheels and exterior trim contrasting with red accents. Top-flight Homura Aka brings a black roof, half-leather upholstery and a heated steering wheel and front seats.

Mazda has a great reputation for building reliable cars, with the pre-facelift Mazda2 finishing 39th out of 100 models in our 2019 Driver Power survey, although it hasn’t appeared in our list since. Mazda scored another top-10 finish in our 2022 list of the best brands, finishing seventh overall out of 29 manufacturers in our manufacturers survey.

A Euro NCAP crash-test score of four out of five stars appears reasonable, however, it’s worth noting that the testing procedures are stricter now than they were in 2015, when the Mazda2 was tested. If safety in a small car is a priority, the Yaris-based Mazda2 Hybrid scored the maximum five stars in 2020.

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