New Mazda 2 2015 review

Stylish new Mazda 2 will present a serious challenge to supermini rivals in 2015

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

There’s a charm to the new Mazda 2 that few rivals can offer. It offers a brilliant blend of performance and efficiency, is more stylish than most and comes loaded with technology. Quality inside is a bit disappointing, the ride is on the sporty side of firm and that engine might be too noisy for some, but this is one seriously tempting small car that is sure to be a hit.

Mazda is set for a busy 12 months with three all-new models and a couple of facelifts coming in 2015. Most important is the new Mazda 2, launching into the competitive supermini sector dominated by the Ford Fiesta, VW Polo and new challengers like the Hyundai i20.

So the 2 has a tough road ahead, but it’s always offered a sense of style and driving dynamics that have set it apart from all but the Fiesta (with which Mazda superminis were once closely related).

This car continues that theme – it still has the sharp looks it’s famous for, but with more class and dynamism. It uses the latest interpretation of Kodo design with a bold, chrome-ringed grille, swept back lights, bold creases down the side and a coupe-like roofline. The 2 is bigger than before, too – 14cm longer and 2cm taller, meaning more interior space and a 280-litre boot just shy of a Ford Fiesta’s.

It’s not the most spacious in the class – the new Hyundai i20 impresses more on that score. Nor is it the most usable – there’s an awkward step at the back of the rear seats when you fold them down. For most, though, there’ll be enough space in the back and the boot.

And it’s what else the 2 offers that makes it so appealing. Its spirited drive borders on hot hatch levels of appeal – even in the most popular 1.5-litre 89bhp mid-spec SE-L version we drove. Actually, to be honest, our early car wasn’t true to this spec – it’s got bigger 16-inch alloys and LED lights normally reserved for Sport models. That probably explained the over-firm ride and tyre noise – let’s just call that sporty for now.

The rev-hungry 1.5-litre engine is a gem – it’s a little rorty, with plenty of punch that gets it from 0-62mph in just 9.4 seconds. Yet with Mazda throwing its full gamut of SkyActiv technologies at the new 2, that performance doesn’t come at the expense of efficiency – there’s a claimed average of 62.8mpg with a tax-friendly 105g/km of CO2.

The company says there’s a little bit of MX-5 in all its cars and that feels the case in the 2. As well as the performance on offer, a short-throw, stubby gearlever that clicks beautifully between the ratios and responsive steering add to the excitement. The cockpit is similar to that found in the new MX-5, too, with a speedo dominating the centre of the instrument panel, flagged by a digital rev counter on one side and an information display on the other. There’s also a seven-inch touchscreen on SE-L and Sport models that connects well with smartphones.

For an extra £400 you can add sat-nav, via touch or a controller between the front seats, while air-con is standard. There’s also decent safety kit that includes autonomous emergency braking.

That’s impressive in a car with a list price of £13,995. What’s less impressive is the quality inside. The cabin design is as cool as the outside, but there’s barely a soft-touch plastic to be felt. However, the Mazda 2 offers a sense of fun that even the Ford Fiesta misses out on, making it easy to overlook minor shortcomings. It’s guaranteed to put a smile on the face of supermini buyers.

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