Mazda2 hatchback review
“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 used to be an overlooked but worthwhile alternative to the Ford Fiesta, Renault Clio and Toyota Yaris. Although it’s been 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 more similar to the previous version of the Mazda3 than the brand’s newer models, such as the CX-30 and the current Mazda3.
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.
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 promises fuel economy of up to 60mpg.
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 SE-L trim, which leads us to recommend the more powerful 89bhp version. Not only is it now more efficient but it’s also faster, doing 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 GT Sport Tech 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 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 2021 and now are as follows: SE-L, Sport, GT Sport and GT Sport Tech.
Even the standard SE-L model gets a comprehensive list of standard equipment: 15-inch alloy wheels, heated power-folding mirrors, electric windows all round 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 the touchscreen from the old SE-L Nav trim, 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.
Sport trim has bigger wheels, keyless entry, LED daytime running lights and wireless CarPlay. Choosing the GT Sport grade adds a reversing camera, leather seats (heated in the front), a heated steering wheel and a head-up display. Top-flight GT Sport Nav adds adaptive headlights, front and rear parking sensors, a 360-degree camera and more driver aids.
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 test has gotten stricter since 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.