Mazda 2 115ps Sport Nav

We like Mazdas. For a number of actually quite simple reasons. They look good. When Mazda do a concept car that embodies their next generation design themes, you can be confident those themes will find their way into the entire range and that these themes are invariably edgy and sporting. They’re well built and reliable, afterall they are Japanese. They handle and perform well. Mazda has long had a reputation for cars that deliver an entertaining drive without sacrificing comfort. And they push technical boundaries. Which means ultraefficient engines and lightweight construction.

 

With all this in mind we have high expectations of Mazda in 2015. Shortly, the new compact crossover SUV, CX3 will be arriving while later in the year comes the all new MX5 – the daddy of the modern sports car – exciting stuff. But here we’ll be assessing whether the new Mazda 2 super-mini cuts the mustard and whether it can make serious inroads against some stiff competition for your hard-earned.

Mazda have identified a younger audience as their target for the new 2 so it’s important that it looks the part. With its chiselled, stylised, sporty profile it trumps rivals. Based on Mazda’s Kodo design language it’s both attractive and purposeful and will tick this box for sure. Another box it ticks is interior quality and space. It has a very large cabin for a super-mini and will accommodate three young adults in the back while a decent sized boot’s sufficient to hold a week’s kit comfortably. Fixtures and fittings are well put together, pleasant to the touch (especially the machined rotary controls) and look very classy - swish but stopping well short of gauche as can be the tendency of some mass-appeal brands in this bracket. We rather liked the centre-stage rev counter in our Sport Nav spec – a statement of intent if ever there was one. What’s particularly impressive is the driving position, thanks to a vast range of adjustment to the seat and steering wheel and well placed pedals, gear stick and control, and the level of kit including a heads-up display, a seven-inch central touchscreen with excellent Smartphone connectivity, USB/bluetooth and safety kit including an auto brake function and lane departure warning.

 

So far so good. But what’s it like on the move? Well, we’re off to a great start with a chassis that’s 20% stiffer than its predecessor. Less flex means better grip as tyres are able to maintain optimum contact with the tarmac. Allied to this is one of the two major benefits of Mazda’s SkyActiv technology – reduced weight. Every single component, no matter how small, is as light as possible. It’s simple physics – less weight makes a car nimbler and more responsive. Throw in a very well sorted, technically advanced suspension and responsive steering and you’ve got a car that’s great fun to drive and handles with aplomb – it corners flat, grips terrifically and responds instantly to driver inputs.

 

The second benefit of SkyActiv is engine performance. Mazda has focussed on how technological advances translate into real world improvements. For them an improvement in fuel economy in the lab at the expense of power on the road isn’t going to light most people’s fire so they’ve shunned the small turbo-charged engine route in favour of larger, naturally aspirated engines with higher compression ratios. Ok, so enough of the techno-babble. What you get is lively performance at much reduced real-world mpg and CO2, 56mpg and 117 g/kg respectively. Our petrol 1.5 puts out a very lively 115bhp, which in a small, light car like the 2 makes for brisk progress – 0-62 in only 8.7secs and a top speed of 124mph. But the omission of a turbo means it has a different, more fun character. It’s punchy and enjoys being revved – it’ll happily spin past 6000 revs (which is where its peak power is).

 

In fact, that’s what the 2 is. It’s a happy, fun car. And one that’s chilled and great to drive, a pleasure to be in and look at but plenty fast enough and very economical too. Another triumph for Mazda that bodes well for what’s to come in 2015.

 

0-62: 8.7secs

Top Speed: 124mph

Mpg: 56.5

CO2: 117

Price: £15,995