Mazda’s new supermini takes a big step towards class honours
Mazda2 1.5 GT
It’s Saturday evening and you’ve had a few creamies after watching the footy, the hunger sets in and you want something quick, and what you think is tasty. What are the options? Usually it’s one of McDonald’s, KFC, Burger King or Supermac’s.
Likewise, when you reach inside your pocket and take out your phone, you’ll probably find it’s either an iPhone, Samsung or Nokia. It’s a familiarity thing, and we always seem to be loyal to the leaders in their fields.
The same goes for the motor industry for the most part. Year on year the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus top the charts as Ireland’s best-selling cars, even though here is plenty of choice in the family hatch category.
In the supermini segment, big hitters like the Ford Fiesta, Peugeot 208 and Opel Corsa are proving popular, but there is one car that has been on the outside looking in for a while, but in its latest guise could be the pick of the bunch.
The new Mazda2 will certainly put the cat amongst the pigeons as it is more pleasing on the eye than many of its sporty three-door rivals.
Kudos has to go to the Mazda designers as the cars they are producing are top notch, in both exterior design and interior quality. The Mazda6 was the car that showed how Mazda had upped its game to compete with segment leaders.
The Mazda2 was always a good supermini, but it just fell short in a few areas compared to class leaders. Now though, the roles have been reversed as the Mazda2 is good enough to compete at the top and steal a bit of the Ford Fiesta’s thunder.
When we first saw the new Mazda2 at the Geneva Motor Show last year, we were seriously impressed. And that feeling continued during our week’s test. We had the 1.5-litre petrol in GT guise, which comes with upgraded alloys and a nice bit of kit. Even the entry-level model looks good, unlike a lot of rivals.
Colour can make a car and my test car was finished in grey, which seems to be popular at the minute, and it did look good, but we would recommend going for the launch colour, soul red metallic, which really makes the Mazda2 stand out.
The good news continues on the inside as the cabin has a premium finish and it feels very well made. It has been de-cluttered and a smart touchscreen sits nicely in the central console. The one minus is the positioning of the control panel which operates the infotainment, it sits beside the handbrake, which means you tend to ignore it and use he touchscreen only.
The Mazda2 is comfortable and provides adequate room for four adults, or three smaller ones in the back. It lacks a little room in the boot but you’ll fit the weekly shop in without many problems.
An area in which the Mazda2 gained our attention was the way it drove. We put the Fiesta as class leader, but the Mazda is closer than ever now.
Mazdas have always been known for their sporty nature, and in the MX-5 they have the best little roadster around. The Mazda2 looks and feels sporty, and our 1.5-litre petrol with 90bhp had plenty of pace.
A short throw gearbox and nimble handling make this little supermini an enjoyable experience when taking on the back roads. You get good feedback through the steering and the suspension, while sporty isn’t at all uncomfortable.
You can opt for the lower-powered petrol with 75bhp, or a more frugal 1.5 diesel with 105bhp — and this is the pick of the bunch for us.
We never thought we’d look beyond the trio that dominate in the supermini market, but this new Mazda has certainly peaked our interest. It is a little more expensive than most, but it is the best looking and can match any for driving experience.
The Ford Fiesta may enjoy the spoils of being the class leader, but we feel the Mazda2 will prove a worthy adversary in the battle of the superminis.
Model: Mazda2 1.5 GT.
Price: From €15,995 (test car €20,595).
Road tax: Band A3 €190.
Max speed: 183kph.
Fuel economy: 4.5 litres per 100km (claimed).
Luggage space: 280 litres.
Paul Keown & Robbie Farrell