Diesel Mazda 2 will shake up the supermini class this November
There’s a bewildering amount of choice in this sector, but the Mazda 2 diesel holds some key advantages over its rivals. It looks smart inside and out, is solidly built and keenly priced – especially in entry-level guise – while CO2 emissions and fuel economy are excellent. But the oil-burning engine is adequate rather than excellent, with its lacklustre refinement and pace taking the shine off an otherwise impressive package
This is the diesel car bosses hope will finally put Mazda on the supermini map when it hits the UK this winter – and Auto Express has driven it first.
The oil-burning version of the 2 arrives in dealers in November, and will build on the appeal of the sharp-looking petrol variant, because it promises to be one of the most efficient models in this class.
Curvy, compact lines give the baby Mazda a sporting look. And it’s smaller and lighter than its ungainly predecessor. Under the bonnet is the same 1.4-litre diesel as seen in the previous 2. This four-cylinder turbodiesel is also available in the Ford Fiesta, Peugeot 207 and Citroen C3. But, thanks to Mazda’s engineering team shaving 100kg off the kerbweight, the 2 is the leanest and greenest of all.
The 207 1.4 HDi emits 120g/km of CO2 and returns 62.7mpg, the Fiesta 1.4 Duratorq puts out 119g/km and delivers 62.8mpg, while the C3 has figures of 118g/km and 64.2mpg. Yet the Mazda manages to beat its rivals with 114g/km and 65.7mpg.
Only Volkswagen’s Polo Bluemotion is better in this sector. Its 99g/km CO2 and 74.3mpg economy help to make it exempt from road tax – but buyers pay the price; the Polo costs £12,595. Mazda estimates its base 2 TS diesel will be around £9,500, so it appears fantastic value for money.
At least, it does until you look at the standard equipment tally. If you want alloy wheels, air-con and side and curtain airbags, you will have to opt for the £10,500 TS2. The range-topping Sport version (pictured), which is set to cost around £11,000, adds a styling kit, automatic lights and wipers, plus climate, stability, traction and cruise control. Yet it’s by no means a class-leading specification.
Choosing the Sport won’t bring you any more power or performance, either, because the 1.4-litre diesel is in the same state of tune in every version. It delivers 67bhp and 160Nm of torque, and is an adequate performer. The sprint from 0-62mph takes 15.5 seconds, and on the road the car feels a bit sluggish. As with most diesels in this class, it’s noisy on start-up, and doesn’t become much more quiet in low gears around town. Rev hard in first and it’s more a case of Boom Boom than Zoom Zoom.
Refinement improves once you’re up to cruising speeds, and although there is still a slight vibration through the steering wheel and pedals, wind and engine noise is minimal.
The five-speed manual transmission provides slick changes and we like the high positioning of the gearlever. What’s more, the brake pedal is well weighted and stopping power good. On winding roads, the new 2 is fun to drive. The steering is direct and accurate, and the car turns into corners precisely. Body roll is virtually eliminated, yet at the same time the ride feels good over rough surfaces.
While the Mazda is shorter than its predecessor, its wheelbase remains the same length, so there’s still just enough space for four adults inside. And even though some of the plastics look as if they have been built to a budget, the interior has a smart design, is very easy to use and feels solidly put together.
The boot is slightly smaller than before, but it’s still a reasonable size. However, you will have to specify the secondary load floor from the options list to get a flat luggage area when the back seats are folded.
Does the new Mazda 2 make the grade then? Well, there’s no doubt it’s light years ahead of the previous gen-eration in terms of design and desirability – so we can’t help thinking that the firm has a hit on its hands.
RIVAL: FORD FIESTA 1.4 5DR
As with the Mazda, the Fiesta puts the emphasis on driving fun, and it’s one of the best handling cars in the class. The Ford is a stronger performer, too. But it can’t match the 2 for economy, and with a new Fiesta on the horizon, the current car is now looking a bit dated.