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Mazda2 hatchback (2007-2015) - Engines, drive & performance

A low weight and eager 1.3-litre engine make the Mazda2 a sprightly performer, while agile handling adds to the fun

Carbuyer Rating

3.5 out of 5

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Engines, drive & performance Rating

3.6 out of 5

Mazda2 petrol engines

Engine choice is limited in the Mazda2 – you can have either a 1.3-litre petrol with a five-speed manual gearbox or a 1.5-litre petrol with a four-speed automatic. The latter is more powerful and has a faster 0-62mph time than the 1.3-litre, but the rather outdated automatic gearbox can't match rivals' newer twin-clutch transmissions for smoothness and response – plus it's less fuel-efficient than the manual.

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The 1.3-litre engine produces 74bhp in the entry-level SE Air Con car and 83bhp if you choose the higher-spec Tamura, Sport Venture or Colour versions, but this difference in bhp doesn't have a huge effect on real-world performance or top speed. You'll cover 0-62mph in 14.9 seconds in the less powerful SE, but all the other models take a more sprightly 13.6 seconds. Fastest of all is the 1.5-litre automatic, which needs just 11.9 seconds to complete the same sprint.

It's important to note, however, that the Mazda2's low weight (even the heaviest model tips the scales at only 1,065kg) means it feels faster and livelier from behind the wheel than those numbers would suggest on paper. And it's not just quick in a straight line – it remains controlled and composed in bends and the steering is light enough to take the stress out of town driving, too.

This eager, sporty character is also evident in the somewhat firm ride quality of the Mazda2 compared to rivals. When combined with the only average support offered by the driver and passenger seats, this can make the Mazda a bit uncomfortable on long journeys or on rough roads. The 2010 update softened the suspension a little, but there's still some room for improvement in this area. Overall, the Mazda is an engaging and enjoyable car to drive on country roads or on short trips around town. But if you do a lot of motorway miles, and value comfort over agility and responsiveness, this may not be the car for you.

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Richard is a former editor of Carbuyer, as well as sister site DrivingElectric.com, and he's now Deputy Editor at Auto Express. Having spent a decade working in the automotive industry, he understands exactly what makes new car buyers tick.

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