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Car group tests

Mazda 2 vs VW Polo & Ford Fiesta

Can Mazda’s new 2 leave supermini rivals feeling blue? We see as it meets VW’s top-quality Polo and Ford’s fun Fiesta

The supermini sector is the most fiercely contested in the UK car market, so any new arrival will have to be on top of its game if it wants to succeed. 

Mazda has worked hard to give its latest 2 a fighting chance. Not only is the newcomer bigger, better equipped and more refined than its predecessor, it features an eye-catching price tag and promises to lead the way for driver fun.

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Just as importantly, it benefits from Mazda’s latest SkyActiv kit, which means lightweight construction and a number of fuel-saving additions. Here we test the car in mid-range 1.5 SE-L Nav guise.

Setting the benchmark for the Mazda is the VW Polo. With its classy image, upmarket interior, punchy turbocharged petrol engine and top-notch refinement, the VW is the most grown-up small car money can buy. The Ford Fiesta is the old-stager in this encounter, but it still sets the standard for driving engagement, plus it looks good and is surprisingly practical.

So, can the Mazda take the spoils, or will it be left feeling blue after tasting road test defeat?

Mazda 2 review

Volkswagen Polo review

Ford Fiesta review

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More reviews for 2

Read individual reviews by clicking the links above, and scroll down to see which supermini star comes out on top...

Head-to-head

Engines

Instead of downsizing, Mazda talks about ‘right-sizing’ with its engines, so the new 2 comes with a naturally aspirated 1.5-litre in three states of tune. The 89bhp version in our test model feels sluggish at low speed, although it delivers decent running costs. Ford and VW have fashionable small-capacity turbos, but with different layouts – the former has a 1.0-litre three-cylinder, while the latter gets a 1.2-litre four-cylinder.

Touchscreen tech

A touchscreen infotainment system (above) is standard on 89bhp Mazda 2 1.5 SE-L models and above. It features a seven-inch display and can also be accessed via a rotary controller. The Polo has a smaller screen, but a more intuitive interface, while the Ford does without this cutting-edge kit.

Weight saving

Saving weight is a big part of Mazda’s SkyActiv philosophy, so it’s no surprise that the new 2 tips the scales at just 975kg. That partly explains how it can be so agile and so efficient. The Polo and Fiesta appear heavy by comparison – they weigh 1,107kg and 1,101kg respectively.

Verdict

1st place: Volkswagen Polo

It’s another win for the Polo, but its margin of victory is smaller than ever. Keeping the VW on top are its impeccable build quality, classy cabin, top-drawer refinement and punchy powerplant. It’s also practical and cost effective to run. The Polo’s handling could do with a bit more sparkle and it doesn’t look as dramatic as its rivals, but it has plenty of upmarket kerb appeal.

2nd place: Mazda 2

The distinctive Mazda 2 just misses out on top spot on the podium. Like its predecessor, the newcomer is eye-catchingly styled and fun to drive, but there’s now a new-found maturity. The 2 is comfortable and refined, plus it boasts a roomy, generously equipped interior. Yet it’s let down by cheap-looking interior materials and the lacklustre response of its engine. 

3rd place: Ford Fiesta 

Our former class champ takes the wooden spoon in this encounter, but the Fiesta still has a lot going for it. Not only does it look sharp, the engaging handling and eager three-cylinder engine make it the number one choice for keen drivers. However, there are now too many chinks in the Ford’s armour. It’s expensive and isn’t as well equipped as rivals, plus its interior looks dated.

Key specs:

VW Polo 1.2 TSI SEMazda 2 1.5 SE-L NavFord Fiesta 1.0T 100PS Zetec
On-the-road price/total as tested£14,360/£15,300£14,395/£14,925£14,695/£15,190
Residual value (after 3yrs/30,000)£7,123/49.6%£6,751/46.9%£5,996/40.8%
Depreciation£7,237£7,644£8,699
Annual tax liability std/higher rate£401/£801£402/£803£351/£703
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)£1,474/£2,457£1,893/£3,155£1,609/£2,681
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost15/£328/B/£2015/£395/A/£2011/£310/A/£0
Servicing costs£288 (2yrs)£499 (3yrs/37,500)£550 (3yrs)
Length/wheelbase4,064/2,470mm4,060/2,570mm3,969/2,489mm
Height/width1,453/1,682mm1,495/1,695mm1,495/1,722mm
Engine4cyl in-line/1,197cc4cyl in-line/1,496cc3cyl in-line/999cc
Peak power89/4,800 bhp/rpm89/6,000 bhp/rpm99/6,000 bhp/rpm
Peak torque160/1,400 Nm/rpm148/4,000 Nm/rpm170/1,400 Nm/rpm
Transmission5-spd man/fwd5-spd man/fwd5-spd man/fwd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel45 litres/space saver44 litres/sealant42 litres/sealant
Boot capacity (seats up/down)280/952 litres280/950 litres290/974 litres
Kerbweight/payload/towing weight1,107/421/1,000kg975/455/900kg1,101/454/900kg
Turning circle/drag coefficient10.6 metres/0.32Cd9.4 metres/N/A10.1 metres/0.33Cd
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery3yrs (60,000)/3yrs3yrs (60,000)/3yrs3yrs (60,000)/1yrs
Service intervals/UK dealers10,000 (1yr)/22312,500 (1yr)/17012,500 (1yr)/781
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.19th/31st8th/14th25th/27th
Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./points90/86/41/5N/A91/86/65/5
0-60/30-70mph9.9/10.2 secs9.8/10.6 secs10.1/11.1 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th5.0/7.2 secs6.6/9.8 secs6.3/8.3 secs
50-70mph in 5th10.9 secs17.6 secs13.2 secs
Top speed/rpm at 70mph114mph/2,600rpm114mph/2,500rpm112mph/2,500rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph51.4/36.9/9.4m53.4/39.6/10.0m48.0/35.2/9.7m
Noise levels outside/idle/30/70mph62/50/58/64dB61/43/63/70dB66/45/64/70dB
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range40.7/9.0/403 miles31.7/7.0/307 miles37.3/8.3/345 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined47.1/70.6/60.1mpg47.9/76.3/62.8mpg53.3/76.4/65.7mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined10.4/15.5/13.2mpl10.5/16.8/13.8mpl11.7/16.8/14.5mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket160/107g/km/14%206/105g/km/14%175/99g/km/12%
Airbags/Isofix/park sensors/cameraFour/y/£400*/£240Six/yes/no/noSix/yes/£300^/no
Auto gearbox/stability/cruise control£1,375/yes/£400*£1,200/yes/yes£1,250/yes/no
Air-conditioning/leather/heated seatsYes/no/£360*Yes/no/noYes/no/£175
Met paint/xenon lights/keyless go£540/no/no£530/no/yes£495/no/no
Sat-nav/USB/DAB/Bluetooth£700/yes/yes/yesYes/yes/yes/yes£500/yes/£100/yes
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