Mazda 2 1.5 Sport

Sharp handling and stylish looks make 2 a hit

  • Surprisingly versatile boot, fussfree cabin layout, well spaced gearbox ratios.
  • Some cabin plastics seem a little shiny and there’s no reach adjustment on the wheel. Engine noisy at speed.

With its boxy shape and awkward design, the old Mazda 2 was a million miles away from the dynamic edge the Japanese firm promotes. But the company has come back into the supermini market with a real bang, thanks to its replacement. The 2 couldn’t be further removed from its predecessor – its athletic look rivals the Grande Punto in the styling stakes.

It’s the shortest of our trio and has the smallest wheelbase, but there’s no compromise in terms of passenger space, although it doesn’t feel quite as airy as the Clio. There are no complaints with the faultless cabin design. It’s simple and attractive, and takes sporty cues form the MX-5 roadster, including a similar gearlever and steering wheel.

Despite having the largest capacity engine here, the Mazda can’t match its two turbocharged rivals for torque. A low kerbweight helps make up for this, however, and the engine is energetic, especially in the mid range. A 0-60mph time of 10.0 seconds couldn’t compete with the Fiat’s, and the Mazda was only quicker than the Clio in fifth gear, but in real-world conditions it feels much faster than the figures suggest.

The peppy engine gives the Mazda a go-kart like nature, and this is backed up by the handling. The Grande Punto is more grown up, but the 2 is more likely to put a smile on your face. The payoff is a slightly firm ride – the Clio is more comfortable.

At £11,799, the 2 is slightly more expensive than the Renault, but the Mazda is closer to the Punto when it comes to standard kit. Cruise control and an MP3 player connection are included for a price that’s £200 less than the Fiat’s.

Details

Price: £11,799Model tested: Mazda 2 1.5 SportChart position: 1WHY: It’s normally aspirated, but free-revving 2 is a sprightly motor.

Economy

We were impressed by the Mazda’s fuel sipping ability. During its time with us, it averaged 37.0mpg. This was helped by its low kerbweight, but it proves that normally aspirated engines can be as economical as turbocharged units.

Residuals

With fresh new styling and plenty of driver appeal, the 2 is set to be a strong contender on the used market. After three years, this range-topping 1.5 Sport will be worth 43.4 per cent of its list price, which is £5,121.

Servicing

The new Mazda proved the cheapest when it came to servicing. Three dealership visits come to a reasonable £470, while the dealers finished a strong 14th in our annual survey, ahead of marques such as VW and Mercedes.

Tax

The normally aspirated Mazda emits 3g/km more CO2 than the Renault, but this makes no difference in company car tax. And with a similar list price to the Clio, the 2 is only a few pounds more expensive, at £389 a year.

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