Lexus NX Review

Find out more about the Mazda 2 in the latest Motors.co.uk Review

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  • Pros
  • Good to drive
  • Impressive cabin ambience
  • Very frugal diesel option
  • Cons
  • Rear space is not the best
  • Only one automatic option
  • Petrol engines are not as refined
  • MPG
    50 - 55
  • CO2
    111 - 127 g/km
Review

The Mazda 2 replaced the Mazda 121 as the brand's city car offering in 2002. It began life as a badge-engineered version of the Ford Fusion, sometimes called the Mazda Demio, before assuming a more traditional hatchback shape with the Ford Fiesta-based second-generation car.

It fits into one of the most populous classes, with just about every mainstream brand offering a city car, and rivals such as the Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa regularly occupy the top slots in the UK sales charts. There's plenty of other alternatives too, with vehicles like the Peugeot 208, Renault Clio, Nissan Micra, Toyota Yaris and a whole host of others.

Where previous small Mazda models shared technologies with Ford models, due to Ford's controlling stake in the brand, the most recent version of the 2 has a bespoke platform (shared with the Mazda CX-3) and a rather similar layout and shares technology with other Mazda cars - a far cry from the Mazda 121 which came before it and effectively resembled a fourth-generation Ford Fiesta with a Mazda badge on the nose.

Latest model

The current Mazda 2 shares a platform with the small crossover CX-3 model, using the brand's 'KODO' design philosophy as you'll find on all of its models since 2012, and SkyActiv engineering principles aimed at increasing efficiency.

Mazda's trim levels are the same on the 2 model as they are on almost every other vehicle in the range, starting with the entry-level SE, rising to the SE-L and SE-L Nav (the latter of which adds satellite navigation) and finishing with the Sport Nav model at the top of the range. Red Edition and Sport Black models add some minor aesthetic sparkle.

The Mazda 2 is powered by either a 1.5-litre petrol engine, which comes with three different power outputs (74bhp, 89bhp, 113bhp), or a 1.5-litre diesel engine at 103bhp. Only the middle 89bhp petrol engine can be specified with an automatic gearbox, of the regular single-clutch type rather than a more modern dual-clutch system. All other cars are equipped with a manual gearbox.

This means that, while rivals often offer a sporty version or even a true hot hatch, there isn't really a particularly quick Mazda 2 model - the 113bhp petrol version can only crack a 60mph sprint of around 8.5s and peaks at 124mph. Most models are really quite frugal though, with up to 83.1mpg (and as little as 89g/km CO2) from the diesel cars and 56.5-62.8mpg (105-117g/km CO2) out of the petrol variants.

On the inside there's more than a passing resemblance to Mazda's larger and more expensive models - you almost wouldn't know that you were in a £12,595 hatchback rather than the £30,000 CX-5 SUV - and the layout is almost identical to the Mazda CX-3 and MX-5.

 

Value for money

The entry level Mazda 2 is a £12,595 SE model, equipped with the 74bhp petrol engine. Equipment levels aren't quite comprehensive, with the little hatchback missing out on cruise control, the 7-inch touchscreen, DAB and Bluetooth and the lane departure warning system, but it's not entirely 'poverty-spec'. You'll get the i-Stop start/stop system, a push-button starter, multifunction steering wheel, and remote central locking, making it a decent budget pick.

Walk up to SE-L for £1,000 extra and you'll find cruise control, Bluetooth, leather gear shifter and steering wheel trim, and 15-inch alloy wheels are added. You can upgrade from the 74bhp petrol engine to the 89bhp version for another £500 and this brings in not only the hike in power but also the 7-inch colour display and the multimedia commander, internet radio and DAB, and the lane departure warning and smart city brake support systems.

If you want satellite navigation you need to spend another £500 on the SE-L Nav model. At £14,595, this car is very keenly priced for the amount of kit it has, and you can specify it with either an automatic gearbox for another £1,200, or with the 103bhp diesel engine for £1,900 over the 89bhp petrol.

Sport Nav - available with the manual or automatic 89bhp petrol engine, the 103bhp diesel engine or the 113bhp petrol engine - starts at £15,595 and really packs in the gadgets, bringing climate control, keyless entry, parking sensors, automatic headlights and wipers, privacy glass, and larger 16-inch alloys. There are also some impressive extras, such as a head-up display which comes in a £400 safety pack.

Aside from the special edition Sport Black and Red Edition cars, which bring colour-coded mirror caps, spoiler, wheel accents and decals, the Mazda 2 range tops out with the £17,495 Sport Nav diesel, before options.

 

Looks and image

Mazda in general has a reasonably sporting image, cultured by more than 25 years of producing the MX-5, alongside other sports cars like the RX-7, RX-8, MX-3 and MX-6, but the smallest Mazda does not have quite the stellar history to bring with it. Previous cars were based on Ford Fiesta and Ford Fusion models - one of the generations of the Mazda 121 was even based on the woeful Kia Pride - and it hasn't been able to really culture its own image.

The modern car is actually a pretty smart looker, inside and out, bringing the looks and style of the car's bigger siblings into this smaller package. It's good to drive and nice to sit in, so it should win over a few hearts and minds at both first and second looks.

Space and practicality

Whichever model of Mazda 2 you pick, each has a boot capable of holding 280 litres, and this will expand to 950 litres with the rear seats folded down - although beware that only models above the entry-level SE will have 60:40 split folding rear seats.

It's decent for the class and a reasonably uniform shape, but there's a mild lip and the frame is quite thick and unusually shaped, making access a little awkward. The seat backs also leave a step, which will affect how you stow longer items.

Cabin room is also reasonable for a car of this size, with the front-seat occupants enjoying a fair amount of room and good seats, but slightly limited head and legroom in the rear. Although there are nominally three seats in the rear, it's not something to use regularly or for long distances.

 

Engines

There are four options of engine in the Mazda 2, consisting of two different units - a 1.5-litre diesel and a 1.5-litre petrol - with a range of power outputs.

The 74bhp version of the petrol engine is the entry-level engine, offering up to 60.1mpg or 110g/km CO2 whether you opt for the SE or SE-L model. 0-60mph is around 12 seconds in either guise too, with a 106mph top speed.

 

The bulk of the 2 range is powered by the 89bhp version of the same engine and brings with it performance and economy advantages, at least in manual form. With 0-60mph coming up in 9.2 seconds, it's more than 2.5 seconds quicker and tops out at 114mph. 62.8mpg and 105g/km CO2 makes it more frugal too, so it should be a popular choice. Fit the automatic - and this is the only engine available with an auto option - and the figures deteriorate. 60mph is seen off in 11.8 seconds, while the top speed falls 4mph to 110mph. 58.9mpg and a CO2 rating of 112g/km is a milder penalty.

A 113bhp version is also on offer and while it has the highest fuel consumption at 56.5mpg (117g/km CO2) it's also the quickest Mazda 2 with a 0-60mph time of 8.5 seconds on its way to a 124mph top speed.

Economy enthusiasts need look no further than the 103bhp diesel. This unit still manages a 9.9 second 0-60mph time and a 111mph top speed, but pairs it to a combined fuel economy of 83.1mpg, equivalent to 89g/km CO2.

 

Running costs

As with most superminis, it's incredibly unlikely that the Mazda 2 is going to cost too much to run.

For most of the models, the low CO2 emissions qualify it for a minor discount on first year VED under the new rules from 1st April 2017, and the decent fuel economy won't cost you a packet either. If you do need an automatic car though, be aware that the one automatic available - the 89bhp petrol - is the most expensive when it comes to VED and the least economical.

The super-frugal diesel has a range - at least on paper - of more than 800 miles! It doesn't offset this with the need to fill it up with expensive additives either, as Mazda does not use Selective Catalytic Reduction.

All versions of the Mazda 2 sit between insurance groups 13 and 19, so are reasonable to insure for younger drivers and inexpensive for others.

Things to look out for

None of the generations of Mazda 2 have been particularly problematic, with only a couple of recalls affecting a handful of models each time and a number of awards for reliability.

The earlier Ford-based cars can be prone to the same sorts of issues that affect their siblings (Fusion in the first generation, Fiesta in the second generation), but even then the cars do not seem to encounter issues as frequently.

 

Rivals

With so many other manufacturers offering superminis, the Mazda 2's rivals are plentiful! The Ford Fiesta, with which previous generations shared a platform, is the most obvious, alongside the Vauxhall Corsa - both amongst the UK's best selling cars.

Other notable rivals include the Volkswagen Polo and its sister cars the Seat Ibiza and Skoda Fabia, the Peugeot 208, Renault Clio, Nissan Micra and Toyota Yaris.

 

Depreciation warning

MX-5 aside, Mazda has always offered vehicles that are more of an alternative to the mainstream and marginally more susceptible to depreciation as a result. However, the Mazda 2 has been remarkably resistant to these effects and tends to hold onto its value at a similar sort of rate to more premium alternatives. The fact that this version of the car is packed with important and useful gadgets should see it continue to perform well.

Which 2 to Pick

Trims Explained

The Mazda 2 comes in four trim levels, with two additional special edition trims.

SE

The SE model is a little on the basic side, but does still come with a push-button start, remote central locking and a multifunction steering wheel.

It's only available with the base 74bhp engine.

SE-L

SE-L adds in cruise control, leather trim on the gear shifter and steering wheel, 15-inch alloys and Bluetooth on the base engine, but if you upgrade to the 89bhp engine you also get 7-inch touchscreen and multimedia commander, internet radio and DAB.

Prices start from £13,595.

SE-L Nav

As the name suggests, SE-L Nav adds the satellite navigation option to the car, but it isn't available with the 74bhp engine, just the 89bhp petrol (in manual or automatic) and 103bhp diesel.

Prices start from £14,595.

Red

Red Edition is broadly the same specification as SE-L Nav and just adds on a few exterior trim pieces finished in 'Soul Red' colour and a red-themed interior trim pack.

This is only available with the manual 89bhp petrol.

Sport Black

Sport Black, also only available with the manual 89bhp petrol, also packs in the exterior trinkets, with 'Brilliant Black' spoiler and aero kit, sporty decals and wheel accents.

There's also additional technology like parking sensors and automatic headlights and wipers, while it also receives an upgrade to 16-inch alloy wheels.

Sport Nav

Sport Nav is the top specification car, adding climate control and keyless entry, along with the ability to select options like full leather trim and a neat head-up display which is fitted as part of a safety pack that also includes a high beam control system.

Prices start from £15,595.

Summary

  1. Entry level models are cheapest but a bit too basic
  2. Only one automatic option
  3. Diesel engine is rather frugal and cheapest to tax
  4. Top grade car has a head-up display available
  5. Boot is reasonable but not ideal shape
  6. No really sporty options
  7. Excellent reliability record
  8. Good fun to drive
  9. Available with DAB and internet radio channels
  10. Prices start at £12,595