The Mazda 2 is a good small car choice thanks to its good looks, ease of use and manageable size. It’s just that some alternatives are more practical and less noisy at speed
The Mazda 2 first went on sale in 2014. It was updated early in 2018 with extra standard kit and other smaller updates, but the exterior look has remained more or less unchanged. The Mazda 2 is around the same size as a Ford Fiesta and Hyundai i20, but is a tad cheaper.
Sit inside the Mazda 2 and what grabs you first is its sporty interior design and build quality that’s impressive at this price point. Getting comfortable is easy in the Mazda 2 and if you’re particularly short, you can jack up the seat a long way. High-spec Mazda 2 models get sport seats that feel great to sit in and are very supportive.
Overall ease of use of the interior is great and it’s mainly to do with the intuitive grouping of different buttons. For example, all the driving assists are to the right of the steering wheel and all the infotainment controls are grouped around a rotary dial in the centre console where your left hand naturally falls.
It’s the same story with the infotainment system – it’s not the most colorful or the fastest system among alternatives but it’s very close to being the best for ease of use. The 7.0-inch infotainment system is standard on all Mazda 2 models bar the entry-level one and comes with a touchscreen for better control over the sat-nav map. However, you can also use the small rotary dial in the centre console to control the system, which is ideal when driving because you spend less time trying to aim your finger at a constantly moving screen.
Passenger space in the Mazda 2 is good up front thanks to an impressive range of seat adjustment. It’s not so great for adults in the back, but kids should be fine – the rear windows are small so it can get pretty claustrophobic back there. Cars such as the Skoda Fabia are much better at taking rear passengers.
As for practicality, the Mazda 2 is a bit behind the best alternatives. The Mazda 2 has a 280-litre boot which is about the smallest in class, but the differences aren’t huge (a couple of backpacks) so it should still cope well with a week’s worth of shopping. You can fold the rear seats to expand the capacity to 950-litre and the seats split 60:40 allowing you some flexibility that you can’t get with some rivals and their bench rear seats.
The Mazda 2 is just as good as the Mazda 3, only smaller and more affordable
The Mazda 2 wins back many points with it’s engines. The entry-level 74hp engine is ok around town but struggles on the motorway so it’s best to got for the 89hp version which is the pick of the range thanks to a near perfect blend of low running costs and decent oomph. The 113hp version is a blast to drive thanks to its nippy performance and pleasing engine note, but it does push the price up.
The best bit about the Mazda 2 is the way it drives. You’ll like the eager steering that lets you dart in and out of traffic and you’ll also like how pleasing the manual gearbox feels to use. There are some drawbacks such as the slightly bumpy ride on poor roads and lots of road noise at speed, but they are forgivable if you are a keen driver.
What isn’t so great about the Mazda 2 is the all-round visibility – those stylish looks have a detrimental effect on how much you can see out of the car. The problem areas are around where the windshield meets the side windows and where the rear window meets the rear side windows.
The Mazda 2 got four stars for safety when tested by Euro NCAP in 2015 which means it’s not quite at the level of the Ford Fiesta which got the maximum five stars when tested in 2017. You can optionally spec up a lane assist system and automatic low-speed emergency braking to make the Mazda 2 safer.
Overall the Mazda 2 is a great small car. If you are a keen driver in the market for a small car, the Mazda 2 should be near the top of your list. It may not have the practicality of a Hyundai i20 but its combination of good looks, well-made interior and enjoyable driving experience makes worth investigating.