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Driven: 2023 Mazda2. Image by Mazda.

Driven: 2023 Mazda2
Can a light refresh inject new life into the often forgotten but always classy Mazda2 supermini?

   



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2023 Mazda2

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5

A bit like the BMW 2 Series, the Mazda2 is now one of those nameplates that covers a multitude of sins. With the arrival of the Mazda2 Hybrid Ė the Yaris-based new supermini Ė the standard carís mild-hybrid tech looks a bit uninteresting. But is there still life in the old dog yet? And can a recent range refresh keep some interest going in the smallest model in Mazdaís stable?

Test Car Specifications

Model: 2023 Mazda2 e-SkyactivG Homura Aka
Price: £24,395 as tested
Engine: 1.5-litre mild-hybrid four-cylinder petrol
Transmission: six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Power: 115hp
Torque: 151Nm
Emissions: 113g/km
Economy: 56.5mpg
0-62mph: 9.1 seconds
Top speed: 124mph
Boot space: 255 litres

Styling

Itís fair to say the Mazda2 is getting on a bit. Itís more than eight years old now, and the styling hasnít really changed very much in all that time. Yet it still looks pretty smart, if a little upright. Thatís testament to how good the design was in the first place, and Mazda has only had to make small tweaks to keep the car feeling fresh. It has an air of class about it, too, which is odd for a mainstream brand, but it makes the littlest Mazda feel a cut above some of the other, more conventional cars in this class.

Interior

Mazda has continued the premium feel inside, where the Mazda2 feels remarkably posh for something so cheap and so compact. Yes, thereís evidence of some cost saving in places, and itís hardly the most technologically advanced car on the market, but the materials are largely very good - particularly in places you often touch - and though the style isnít that fresh, it still feels modern enough.

Then thereís the touchscreen, which only operates as a touchscreen when the car is stationary. The rest of the time, itís operated via a BMW iDrive-style rotary controller in the centre console. While the screen itself isnít that sharp, it is at least easy to navigate, and the rotary control only makes it more user-friendly when youíre on the road. Invest some time getting used to it, and itíll prove more than up to the task.

Practicality

Practicality isnít really the Mazda2ís strong suit Ė the 255-litre boot looks pretty tiny compared with the Renault Clioís near-400-litre capacity Ė but itís still more than big enough to cope with shopping, school bags, or whatever else youíre likely to ferry around town. It just isnít brilliant for trips to the recycling centre. It isnít the best car to sit in the back of, either, with a slightly cramped rear thatís fine for kids, but a bit cramped for adults Ė especially if youíre sitting behind someone tall. On the plus side, though, thereís plenty of space in the front, and it feels surprisingly roomy from the driving seat.

Performance

The more conventional versions of the Mazda2, by which we mean the ones that arenít Toyota Yarises with a Mazda badge at the front, all come with a 1.5-litre petrol engine that goes without the assistance of a turbocharger but does get mild-hybrid technology. In truth, thatís little more than a glorified stop-start system that offers a minute improvement in torque at various points, but itís better than nothing.

Because of that slightly left-field choice of power unit, no Mazda2 is especially powerful, with the base model getting a mere 75hp. However, the range-topping engine tested here produces 115hp and thereís a mid-range 90hp version on offer, too.

In truth, you donít really want to go much lower than this 115hp engine, which offers a perfectly adequate 0-62mph time of just over nine seconds and a top speed of 124mph. It comes with a really slick six-speed manual gearbox, which also endears it to us, and itís very efficient, managing well over 50mpg on a long run. Less powerful versions of this engine might be more efficient on paper, but youíll likely work them harder on the road, reducing their advantage.

Ride & Handling

Mazda seems to have a knack of making everyday cars great to drive. The Mazda3 is one of the best-handling cars in its segment, and the same goes for the CX-30 and CX-5. The Mazda6 was also up there until its untimely demise earlier this year. And the Mazda2 follows the same rule.

Following the Fiestaís exit from the small hatchback market, the Mazda2 has become one of the leaders in terms of handling, thanks to its precise steering and ample grip, as well as its eagerness to turn into corners. Naturally, with such a tall body, thereís bound to be a bit of body roll, and indeed there is, but at least itís reasonably well controlled.

Given its handling credentials, though, the Mazda2 is still really easy to drive around town and itís surprisingly comfortable. Small cars arenít often brilliant over potholes, speed bumps and the like, but the little Mazda makes a reasonable go of dealing with most of the bumps British roads can throw at it. And with its innate stability, the car makes a very pleasant motorway companion, although it is a little on the noisy side.

Value

The cheapest Mazda2 starts at £18,615, which sounds like a lot of money for a small hatchback, but itís pretty standard these days. Itís £2,000 cheaper than a Volkswagen Polo, for example, and itís only a few hundred quid more expensive than the Renault Clio. Considering it comes with mild-hybrid tech, that isnít too shabby, and you get more than just that. Alloy wheels, climate control, satellite navigation and the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity systems are all part of the standard package.

If you want more than the standard Centre-Line model can offer, though, you can always splash out on a more upmarket version. The range-topping Homura Aka we tested came with larger alloys, part-leather upholstery and keyless entry, as well as a reversing camera. And prices for that model start from just £21,365 - less than £600 more than a basic VW Polo.

Verdict

It might not be the last word in practicality or speed, but the little Mazda2 has lots going for it. The cabin feels classy, the driving experience is now one of the best in the class, and itís quite a stylish thing, too. Itís probably a bit too niche to ever become truly popular, and the basic design is getting on a bit, but for those that want a little runabout thatís fun to drive, it ticks plenty of boxes.



James Fossdyke - 10 Nov 2023



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2023 Mazda2 1.5 e-Skyactiv G 115PS Homura Aka. Image by Mazda.2023 Mazda2 1.5 e-Skyactiv G 115PS Homura Aka. Image by Mazda.2023 Mazda2 1.5 e-Skyactiv G 115PS Homura Aka. Image by Mazda.2023 Mazda2 1.5 e-Skyactiv G 115PS Homura Aka. Image by Mazda.2023 Mazda2 1.5 e-Skyactiv G 115PS Homura Aka. Image by Mazda.

2023 Mazda2 1.5 e-Skyactiv G 115PS Homura Aka. Image by Mazda.2023 Mazda2 1.5 e-Skyactiv G 115PS Homura Aka. Image by Mazda.2023 Mazda2 1.5 e-Skyactiv G 115PS Homura Aka. Image by Mazda.2023 Mazda2 1.5 e-Skyactiv G 115PS Homura Aka. Image by Mazda.2023 Mazda2 1.5 e-Skyactiv G 115PS Homura Aka. Image by Mazda.








 

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