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Road tests

New Mazda 2 Hybrid 2024 review: efficient supermini has a new face

The Mazda 2 Hybrid’s new look helps to further separate it from its Toyota Yaris twin, but so does the price

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.5 out of 5

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Verdict

The Mazda 2 Hybrid is an excellent offering in the supermini segment thanks to its obvious Yaris-based roots. The new styling is subjective, but creating a more familiar ‘Mazda’ face on what is otherwise a rather shameless badge-engineering job, is commendable. It’s a shame the pricing doesn’t quite stack up against its Toyota sibling, however.

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Badge engineering or ‘rebadging’ is when two or more manufacturers use the same base car with minimal changes – often tweaking little more than the logo on the bonnet and bootlid. It helps with economies of scale, and should (in theory) allow the savings to be shared three ways.

The Mazda 2 Hybrid is an obvious example of this, being based on the well loved Toyota Yaris – a car we drove in facelifted form only last week. The Mazda arrived in 2021 and, initially at least, made little attempt to look different from the model on which it was based. 

This new one has undergone some cosmetic surgery, however. According to Mazda designer Jo Stenuit the “2 Hybrid was the only one that didn’t fit in”. Now, there’s a five-point grille (a staple of Mazda’s current models), a new front bumper, new alloy wheel designs, and new rear hatch that helps differentiate it visually from the Yaris. 

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Inside and underneath it’s very much the same as the old car. The driver’s display and central touchscreens have received the same upgrade as the Yaris, so instead of seven or eight-inch touchscreens, even base Centre-Line and Exclusive-Line cars get a nine-inch display, with Homura and range-topping Homura Plus gaining a 12.3-inch screen. 

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As you’d expect, they use the same infotainment system as the Yaris, but it’s a good one – easy to understand, responsive and smart looking. If it’s not to your taste, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard across the range. 

There are some harsh plastics dotted around, but overall it feels built to last, and one of the plusher superminis on sale – at least in higher-spec Homura Plus guise. It’s airy too, with a low dash line and plenty of light, especially with the huge panoramic roof of our car. This model also gets a 12.3-inch driver’s display, whereas the Homura makes do with a seven-inch unit; the Centre-Line and Exclusive-Line have analogue dials. Our car also had the head-up display which incorporates a rev counter – a strange addition given the focus is on ‘charge’, ‘eco’ and ‘power’ within the driver’s display. 

Mazda couldn’t do much about the space on offer in the Yaris, but that’s not too much of a problem because the long wheelbase (50mm longer than the previous-generation Yaris) means there’s room for adults in the back. But the 286-litre boot isn’t great – that’s 18 litres less than the Honda Jazz, 23 litres down on the Vauxhall Corsa, and a whopping 94 litres shy of a Skoda Fabia

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Deciding to use the Yaris Hybrid – our our Affordable Hybrid of the Year in 2022 – as a base was a wise choice from Mazda. The focus is very much on efficiency, with a 1.5-litre, three-cylinder petrol unit mated to a 0.7kWh battery offering up to 74.3mpg on the smaller 15-inch wheels – better than you get from the Yaris’s claimed 70.6mpg. 

There’s no indication at this time that the more powerful 129bhp powertrain will appear in the future, but the 114bhp unit feels sufficient for a car of this size. Even with the vague e-CVT gearbox, the Mazda 2 feels strong enough in its acceleration, even if it lacks a little in the torque department. Steering, body control and the general feedback is pretty good – as it is in the Yaris – and you can chuck the Mazda around with the confidence it’ll provide a decent amount of grip. 

Refinement is a strong suit of the Yaris-based Mazda. According to Mazda, the 2 can manoeuvre using only its battery when you stick it in ‘EV Mode’ – even if it won’t do this for long. Push the throttle too firmly and you’ll hear the petrol engine burst into life. It’s not the quietest integration, but once it’s up and running the hybrid system works smoothly.

We alluded to the improved economies of scale earlier, but unfortunately it doesn’t look like Mazda has been willing or able to pass these savings to the customer. The base-spec Yaris Icon has pretty much the same equipment list as the entry-level Centre-Line Mazda 2, but costs £1,500 less. In other markets there’s an even cheaper ‘Prime-Line’ version of the 2, but we’re denied that here in the UK.

Model:Mazda 2 Hybrid Homura Plus
Price from:£24,130
Price as tested:£29,230
Powertrain:1.5-litre, 3cyl petrol + 0.7kWh battery
Transmission:CVT auto, front-wheel drive
Power:114bhp
0-62mph:9.7 seconds
Top speed:108mph
Economy/CO2:74.6mpg/87g/km
Dimensions (L/W/H):3,940/1,745/1,500mm
On sale:Now
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Senior news reporter

A keen petrol-head, Alastair Crooks has a degree in journalism and worked as a car salesman for a variety of manufacturers before joining Auto Express in Spring 2019 as a Content Editor. Now, as our senior news reporter, his daily duties involve tracking down the latest news and writing reviews.

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