Long-term tests

Mazda 2

A move to the countryside has brought out the best in our supermini star

  • There's not only a lack of gas in my new neighbourhood, there are barely any street lights, either. So I’m even more grateful for the 2’s powerful halogen headlamps, as I pull into the pitch-black driveway of my country cottage. It also gives the locals and wildlife plenty of notice the Mazda is moving in on their territory, as it navigates the area’s narrow lanes.
  • The car’s ultra-sensitive seatbelt warning mechanism has started to grate of late. Okay, so I’ve got a massive handbag, but my Mazda is unusually irritated by this. It keeps sounding alarm bells whenever I lob it on to the passenger seat, warning me to belt the thing up. Now I’m a girl who loves her handbags, but that seems a little excessive, even for me...

My Mazda has barely been able to clear its throat since it joined the fleet last year. With the exception of a summer jaunt down to the south of France, it’s spent most of its time grinding its gears through the traffic-choked streets of London. That is, until I moved to the country…

Yes, it was time to turn my back on life in the capital, don a pair of wellies and get the 2’s tyres dirty. And as I pulled up outside my new village green, I could already tell my car would finally have the chance to show its true colours. And thanks to its distinctive Spirited Green finish, the Japanese machine was going to blend in very nicely.

Gone are the speed bumps of London’s East End. Gone are the bus lanes, the wardens and the double parking neighbours. Gone also are the CCTV cameras and reckless uninsured drivers. I’ve traded them all in for the rolling Chiltern countryside – and in one slick manoeuvre, have turned my chic city car into a right rural runaround.

It even helped me make the move. With the seats folded flat, my Mazda’s 787-litre boot made a perfect companion to the Ford Transit van that shifted the bulk of my gear. It took the entire contents of my kitchen, in fact.

Despite the ample room inside, the 2 is surprisingly compact, too – a fact that’s now proving to be increasingly useful as I weave my way through this rolling Hertfordshire countryside, and navigate the narrow lanes that litter my new stomping ground. Unlike my wide-eyed neighbours negotiating huge off-roaders and even tractors, I’m always confident the 2 won’t need to breathe in to squeeze through the gaps on these single-track roads as it meets oncoming traffic.

These last-minute manoeuvres remind me how light and responsive the Mazda is, too. No wonder it’s loving its new-found opportunity to show off its fancy footwork around the area’s many challenging corners. Already used to performing in the low gears, it’s dodged deer, dawdling pedestrians and ditches by the dozen since we arrived. And when the road opens out, I can fully exploit the punchy 1.6-litre diesel engine.

The agricultural traffic and the hedgerows aren’t the only obstacles it has had to avoid, either. I may have left the back-breaking speed bumps of Hackney behind – but not, sadly, the potholes. In fact, the frequent frosts from the recent cold snap have left the local lanes looking more pitted than the Welsh valleys – something that highlights the sporty Mazda’s stiff ride. Best of all, though, is that my hour-long commute to the office has really given the 2 a chance to get into its stride.

A reduction in stop-start motoring means I’ve discovered just how frugal my commuting companion really is, regularly achieving more than 50mpg.

Okay, so I’m putting more miles on the Mazda’s clock than ever before. But frankly, it’s never been so much fun!

Extra Info

“I love the looks. The sharp creases, taut lines and neat detailing give the 2 plenty of appeal.”Ross Pinnock- Road test editor

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