Mazda 2 Review
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
This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car
- Good-looking cabin
- Sporty feel
- Efficient engines
What's not so good
- Bumpy on big wheels
- Lots of road noise
- Not as practical as some alternatives
Mazda 2: what would you like to read next?
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.
Though the main surfaces are all made of tactile materials, and top-spec Mazda 2 cars come with leather trim on the dashboard, there are some cheaper plastics elsewhere in the cabin
The Mazda 2’s front seats come with enough adjustment for tall passengers to get comfy but alternatives have bigger boots and more space in the back seats
You might love the Mazda 2’s swoopy roof but your passengers won’t appreciate how dark and dingy it makes the back seats feel…
For the driver and whoever’s riding shotgun in the front passenger seat, the Mazda 2 should prove to be a pretty comfortable car. Not only is there plenty of space all round up front, but the seats are soft yet quite supportive. Black cloth upholstery is standard and top-spec Mazda 2 models come with body-hugging leather-upholstered heated seats.
Things don’t fare quite so well in the back, though. While it by no means has the most cramped rear seating arrangement in this class, adults will be left wanting some extra head and leg room. The centre rear seat is on the narrow side, too.
Shoulder room is good, however, and there’s enough space in the back for children to sit comfortably.
Plenty of usefully-sized storage cubbies are also dotted about the cabin, with the door bins, in particular, being quite large. You get a space for your phone below the centre console and two cup holders between the front seats that are a good size.
The overall shape of the Mazda 2 boot is quite boxy, though, and the boot opening itself is quite wide, so larger items should slot into the back with relative ease. However, issues do arise once you stow away the rear seat backs to increase the loading space – for instance, the seats don’t fold completely flat, and the 950 litres is below the most capacious in class.
Despite all the know-how gained from making the critically acclaimed MX-5 sports car, Mazda hasn’t been able to make the Mazda 2 the best-driving supermini
The driving position is spot-on, giving you confidence, but the entry-level petrol takes some of that confidence away when overtaking
Currently, the Mazda 2 comes with one petrol engine.
Where the diversity comes from, though, is in the power outputs: you can get your 1.5-litre petrol to come with either 74hp, 89hp or 113hp. It’s best to avoid the least powerful version, given the 89hp model is noticeably quicker whilst also being more fuel efficient (60mpg vs 63mpg).
Unless Mazda ends up building a dedicated performance version of the Mazda 2, then the 113hp engine option is the one to go for if you’re a keen driver. The Mazda 2’s low weight gives it plenty of speed (0-62mph, for instance, only takes 8.7 seconds), whilst also allowing this engine to return a fairly impressive 57mpg.
The Mazda 2 is a very enjoyable car to drive. It has light and precise steering, body roll is well controlled and there’s good grip. It’s just short of the Ford Fiesta in terms of how fun it is to drive, but trails it very closely. The Mazda 2, provided you keep the wheel size small, rides over bumps ok, but can get a bit bouncy over poor roads – a Citroen C3 is more comfortable but far less enjoyable to drive.
Around town, you’ll like how easy it is to dart in and out of traffic while the manual gearbox is pleasing and easy to shift. Take it to some twisty roads and the Mazda 2 shines, giving you confidence and making you grin.
On the motorway, things aren’t so great. There, there’s too much wind noise so you have to overpower it with the stereo and the direct steering makes the Mazda feel a teensy bit nervous at high speeds. Alternatives are not hugely better in this regard so it’s not so bad and the Mazda 2 drives better than just about all of them.