Mazda 2: 1,588 miles
First REPORT: Baby turns heads with garish paintjob. But is its beauty more than skin deep?
A clash with my new long-term Mazda 2 before I’d even had a chance to climb behind the wheel? That was the last thing I wanted. But with its gleaming pea green paintwork, I could see I was going to have to reconsider my wardrobe if the two of us were going to get along. You know what they say about red and green...
For someone so concerned about colour co-ordination and accessorising, this smart little runaround actually feels like a perfect companion for the girl about town. Sharp, sporty styling means it’s smart enough to impress the parents, but it’s also packed with enough gadgets to keep me happy.
The first thing I clocked as I climbed aboard was the word ‘MP3’ stamped by the stereo. This is music to my ears. And it means the 2 is already scoring points over my old MINI One D – that was equipped with a warbling tape player, and restricted my music library to Eighties pop hits.
Not that I object to a bit of a Bonnie Tyler. But a tiny cubbyhole between the 2’s seats reveals an aux-in socket for connecting my iPod and gives me access to my entire digital music collection – a surefire way to keep me happy at the wheel.
I’m also optimistic that the 2’s compact boot will easily swallow my fold-up bike without me having to flip down the back seats – a major plus point when I’m ferrying it across town.
Heavily tinted rear windows make stowing the bike or shopping less stressful, too. This little extra means I don’t have to find someone to stand guard as I unload the car and lug stuff up two flights of stairs to my flat.
The only blot on the landscape was the shock at spotting someone had ticked the option box marked ‘smokers’ pack’ when deciding on the car’s specification. Why? It’s so ugly. And as a recovering smoker, the last thing I want to see when I’m struggling to suppress road rage is an ashtray.
Nevertheless, the 2 has already cheered me up. It feels much more lively than my heavy-footed MINI. Its 1.6-litre diesel engine is nippy, the steering is light to the touch, the gears shift easily from the lever’s elevated position on the centre console and it also shrugs off the speed bumps littering my neighbourhood. So, manoeuvring around the capital should be a doddle.
The paintjob isn’t the 2’s only green touch, either. Impressive economy of 49.5mpg means I’m not expecting my regular weekend jaunts up north, or to the West Country, to break the bank. As I’ve been driving fuel- sipping diesels for years, I’ve been a stranger to forecourts – a habit I don’t want to break.
As someone with limited fashion sense, I’m not concerned by the Mazda’s bright green finish. Of much more appeal to me is what’s under the eye-catching bodywork – because the Japanese model shares its underpinnings with the brilliant Ford Fiesta. As with the blue oval model, the 2 has an alert and agile chassis that serves up real thrills on twisty roads. The only disappointment is the 1.6-litre diesel – it has lots of punch, but isn’t quite as refined as the class leaders.