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
Currently, the Mazda 2 comes with one petrol or one diesel engine, both of which being 1.5-litres in size and the former available in three power outputs.
Where the diversity comes from, though, is in the power outputs: buyers can specify their 1.5-litre petrol to come with either 74hp, 89hp or 113hp. We reckon it’s best to avoid the least powerful version, given the 89hp model is much quicker whilst also being more fuel efficient (60mpg vs 62mpg). However, it is worth considering that you’ll have to pay a £1,000 premium for the privilege of owning it over the basic version.
Unless Mazda ends up building a dedicated performance version of the Mazda2, then the 113hp engine option will be better suited if you’re looking at entry-level performance hatchbacks like the Suzuki Swift Sport and the Ford Fiesta in Zetec S spec. Though its rivals are more powerful, the Mazda2’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 driving position is spot-on, giving you confidence, but the gutless petrol takes some of that confidence away when overtaking
Only one diesel engine is available for the Mazda 2. However, where things differ is in the power and gearbox options: plump for diesel power, and you’ll have to make do with 104hp and a five-speed manual gearbox.
Surprisingly for a diesel, it’s actually quite a refined engine, which makes it pretty well suited for journeys on A-roads and motorways. The punchy torque output at lower revs also makes overtaking at higher speeds quite straight forward for something so city-centric as a supermini, along with giving the Mazda 2 some decent acceleration credentials at urban speed limits.
Running costs are also very good: with the claimed fuel economy figure of over 80mpg, the Mazda 2 is amongst one of the most efficient (on paper) cars in this class.
If there’s one major downside to the diesel, it’s that it’s very expensive to buy in comparison with the other petrol engines in the range – so much so, that the extra efficiency of the diesel will only start to pay off the premium if you regularly drive on longer journeys.
Whilst the Ford Fiesta still stands strong in the handling department, the Mazda 2 is still a very nice car overall: the steering is light and precise, the body roll is well controlled and there’s plenty of overall grip.
The trade-off for not being the sharpest car in the world to drive, though, is that the Mazda 2 is quite comfortable and civilised for a supermini, with decent levels of noise insulation and a ride that only starts to get jittery on models fitted with the 16-inch wheels. Good all-round visibility also makes the Mazda 2 pretty easy to place into tighter spots.
One recurring complaint of the road tests, however, is that there isn’t a huge amount of feel through the steering, even by the standards of modern road cars. However, since this appears to be the biggest issue with the Mazda 2, it’s safe to say that most buyers will be pretty satisfied overall with the way the car drives.