“The Mazda2 is a supermini with neat styling, tidy handling and low running costs”
- Good-looking inside and out
- Sharp handling
- Engines can feel lethargic
- Not as practical as rivals
- Interior starting to show its age
The Mazda2 is a better car than its comparative rarity might leave you to believe, but it’s often been overlooked by buyers who bought the likes of the Toyota Yaris and Renault Clio instead. Its key rivals include the UK’s best-selling car, the Ford Fiesta, as well as the Vauxhall Corsa and Volkswagen Polo. While these cars sell in greater numbers and are better known among the general public, the Mazda2 still has plenty of fans thanks to its driving dynamics and reliability, as well as the value-for-money it offers. An update for 2020 has brought quite a few tweaks and changes, but the facelifted model is unlikely to change the supermini status quo.
The Mazda2 feels well built inside, even if it’s no longer the most modern-looking cockpit. The controls are logically laid out and feel solid, while the gearlever’s location relatively high up, nearer the steering wheel, gives driving the car a neat and compact feel. The most recent version of the car has an updated steering wheel and seat upholstery, plus a number of other styling updates to keep it looking fresh.
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 280 litres, which is almost the same size as the Fiesta’s boot, but other rivals like the Clio, 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’s available in two different power outputs. A 1.5-litre petrol engine is carried over from the pre-facelift model, and is available with either 74 or 89bhp. While not class-leading, both versions return decent fuel economy of 53.3mpg and a low Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) rating for company-car drivers.
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The 74bhp version of the 1.5-litre engine gets the car from 0-62mph in 11.7 seconds and is only offered on the entry-level SE-L trim, which leads us to recommend the more powerful 89bhp version. Not only is it just as efficient, but it’s also significantly faster, doing the 0-62mph sprint in 9.7 seconds. An automatic gearbox is available on this engine, but it’s significantly slower and noticeably less economical so very difficult to recommend.
The Mazda2 is one of the best superminis to drive thanks to accurate steering and a well judged suspension setup that means the car resists roll in corners. What’s particularly impressive is that the suspension is still sufficiently compliant to deal with poor road surfaces. The action of the manual gearbox is excellent too, feeling like it’s inspired by the one in the Mazda MX-5 sports car.
The Mazda2’s trim levels were updated for 2020 and now are as follows: SE-L, SE-L Nav, Sport Nav and GT Sport Nav.
Even the standard SE-L model gets a comprehensive list of standard equipment: 15-inch alloy wheels, heated power-folding mirrors, electric rear windows 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. Step up to SE-L Nav and the most obvious change is a seven-inch infotainment screen, which comes with DAB radio and sat nav, plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity if you want to use your phone’s software instead of Mazda’s built-in system. SE-L Nav also gets auto emergency braking and lane-departure warning.
Choosing the Sport Nav grade adds larger 16-inch wheels, privacy glass and an assortment of styling touches including a chrome exhaust tip and black rear spoiler. Keyless entry and two extra speakers are also added. Top-flight GT Sport Nav adds leather upholstery, heated front seats and steering wheel, a digital speedometer and a colour head-up display, and also boasts a reversing camera as standard.
Mazda has a great reputation for building reliable cars, with the pre-facelift Mazda2 finishing 39th out of 100 models in last year's survey, with the new model not receiving enough responses to feature in our 2020 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey. Mazda again finished fourth overall out of 30 manufacturers in our best manufacturers survey.
A Euro NCAP crash-test score of four out of five stars appears disappointing, however the Mazda2 was tested under stricter criteria than some rivals. Since the test changes, many of the Mazda2’s competitors have performed similarly.