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Driven: Mazda2 M Hybrid. Image by Mazda.

Driven: Mazda2 M Hybrid
Mazdaís supermini gains a mild facelift and mild hybrid tech, but is that enough to propel it towards the top of its class?

   



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Mazda2 90 Skyactiv-G M Hybrid

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Good points: strong equipment levels, good value, attractive looks, fluid chassis

Not so good: lack of turbocharger makes it hard work to drive, M Hybrid system is mild to the point of anonymity, interior finishing and displays showing their age, cramped in the back and small boot

Key Facts

Model tested: Mazda2 1.5 90 Skyactiv-G M Hybrid GT Sport Nav
Price: Mazda2 range from £15,795; 90 Skyactiv-G GT Sport Nav from £18,295, car as tested £18,835
Engine: 1.5-litre four-cylinder Skyactiv-G petrol with M Hybrid mild hybrid technology
Transmission: six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Body style: five-door supermini hatchback
CO2 emissions: 94g/km (VED Band 91-100: £130 in year one, then £145 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 53.3mpg
Top speed: 114mph
0-62mph: 9.7 seconds
Power: 90hp at 6,000rpm
Torque: 148Nm at 4,000rpm
Boot space: 280-950 litres

Our view:

We're going to keep this one very brief. Since we last drove the Mazda2 at the tail end of 2018, the Japanese company has treated its amenable little supermini to a mild facelift and the same 'M Hybrid' fuel-saving tech as seen on the striking new Mazda3. It has also blessed the 2 with G-Vectoring Control Plus (GVC Plus), a feature which debuted on the Mazda6, has improved the sound-deadening around the passenger compartment and the general refinement of its B-segment car's manners, and decided the only engine it now needs for this class is the 1.5-litre Skyactiv-G normally aspirated petrol, which comes with either 75hp on the base SE-L or 90hp on all the trim grades above there.

This one, GT Sport Nav, is the flagship, and so you get the sort of standard equipment on the Mazda2 M Hybrid that you'd expect on an executive saloon; things like leather upholstery with heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, a reversing camera and a colour head-up display (HUD) augment an already-generous specification on every other variant of the 2. And that also means, for less than £19,000, buyers will enjoy a suitably proficient supermini. The refreshed Mazda2 still looks smart on the outside. It still has one of the best infotainment systems in the industry. Still has a beautifully engineered drivetrain that's very smooth in operation and which is mated to a gloriously snickety six-speed manual gearbox. If you decide to plump for the Japanese hatch, you'll still get a car with decent refinement and acceptable running costs (we saw an overall 42.3mpg test economy across 111 miles of mixed-roads driving, with no big motorway runs included). You get a machine which is, in short, perfectly acceptable.

And should you decide to buy the 2, you end up with a vehicle for which you still have to swallow a lot of compromises, as well as having to accept that a car given a teensy visual primping, a direct hit with the standard-toy-count blunderbuss and a hybrid system so tepid in action that you could bag it up in wax paper and call it an 'extremely mild cheddar', is never going to disguise the fact that it's now significantly off the pace in an already-challenging supermini sector - one which has become even more competitive with the recent arrivals of the excellent Peugeot 208 and Renault Clio (see below) rivals.

In truth, the Mazda2 - as fine a car as it is - has not been improved by anything like enough by the 2019 updates to challenge for class honours, given it is now a five-year-old design. You still have to work that nat-asp 1.5-litre Skyactiv-G ridiculously hard to keep up with traffic flow, you will still notice that much of the cabin finishing (the fold-up glass screen for the HUD in particular) looks sub-par in this day and age of digital instrument clusters and soft-touch dash-tops, you'll still be painfully aware that the tiny boot and cramped rear-seat space are no longer acceptable in the B-segment. You'll basically just wish you bought a Ford Fiesta instead.

Time is up for this generation of Mazda2. The game has moved on considerably and simply offering great value-for-money plus the moderate tax breaks of having a mild hybrid electrified drivetrain in a thoroughly reliable vehicle are no longer reasons enough to make customers flock to your showrooms/your online configurator; people now demand sharper aesthetics, improved interior design quality, and an array of turbocharged petrol and hybrid/electric drivetrains from their runarounds. So while we still like the Mazda2 and we know this great marque will no doubt stun us with this car's direct replacement (if the current Mazda3 is anything to go by), we feel that - GVC and M Hybrid system or not - the 2 GT Sport Nav is not a car to place near the top of your shopping list if you're after a top-notch supermini right now.

Alternatives:

Peugeot 208: it's cars like the 208 PureTech 100 which show up the Mazda2's old-school approach. Peugeot looks sharper, has a far superior cabin and easier-going engines. Oh, and there's a full electric model, should you need it.

Renault Clio: strong opening gambit from the Clio V, which - although it looks a lot like a Clio IV on the outside - is nevertheless suitably improved in terms of interior finishing and refinement. Also has a 391-/1,069-litre boot, easily trumping the Mazda2.

SEAT Ibiza: one of our class favourites. Apart from a slightly drab interior (which is still far better finished than the Mazda's cabin), the SEAT is strong in all areas and it drives sweetly. This, the Ford Fiesta and the 208 are way ahead of the Mazda2.


Matt Robinson - 14 Feb 2020



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2020 Mazda2 1.5 90hp Skyactiv-G M-Hybrid GT Sport Nav. Image by Mazda.2020 Mazda2 1.5 90hp Skyactiv-G M-Hybrid GT Sport Nav. Image by Mazda.2020 Mazda2 1.5 90hp Skyactiv-G M-Hybrid GT Sport Nav. Image by Mazda.2020 Mazda2 1.5 90hp Skyactiv-G M-Hybrid GT Sport Nav. Image by Mazda.2020 Mazda2 1.5 90hp Skyactiv-G M-Hybrid GT Sport Nav. Image by Mazda.

2020 Mazda2 1.5 90hp Skyactiv-G M-Hybrid GT Sport Nav. Image by Mazda.2020 Mazda2 1.5 90hp Skyactiv-G M-Hybrid GT Sport Nav. Image by Mazda.2020 Mazda2 1.5 90hp Skyactiv-G M-Hybrid GT Sport Nav. Image by Mazda.2020 Mazda2 1.5 90hp Skyactiv-G M-Hybrid GT Sport Nav. Image by Mazda.2020 Mazda2 1.5 90hp Skyactiv-G M-Hybrid GT Sport Nav. Image by Mazda.








 

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