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First drive: Mazda2 Hybrid. Image by Mazda.

First drive: Mazda2 Hybrid
Thereís something very familiar about the Mazda2 Hybrid, and as the saying goes, if it isnít broken, donít fix it.

   



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Mazda2 Hybrid

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With the current Mazda2 entering its autumn years, developing an electrified hybrid version at this stage would prove too costly, so Mazda has turned to Toyota. The result is the Yaris-based Mazda2 Hybrid, which receives updated exterior styling for the 2024 model year. How does what was already one of the best hybrids on the market fare? We've been driving it to find out.

Test Car Specifications

Model: 2024 Mazda2 Hybrid Homura Plus
Price: Mazda2 Hybrid range from £24,130, Mazda2 Hybrid Homura Plus from £29,230
Engine: 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol plus 59kW electric motor and 0.7kWh lithium-ion battery
Transmission: CVT automatic, front-wheel drive
Power: 116hp (combined)
Torque: 120Nm (engine), 141Nm (electric motor)
Emissions: 87-97g/km
Economy: 74.3-67.2mpg
0-62mph: 9.7 seconds
Top speed: 108mph
Boot space: 286-935 litres

Styling

Let's start by addressing the elephant in the room. Yes, the Mazda2 Hybrid was essentially a re-badged Toyota Yaris. However, for the 2024 model year, the Mazda2 Hybrid gets some additional exterior styling updates that help put a little distance between itself and the model from which it is derived. New for this year is a front bumper design that features a fresh take on Mazda's five-point wing grille. This change, combined with fog lights set in the lower corners of the bumper, helps to bring the car more into line with the rest of the brand's models from a visual standpoint.

Designers have also added a colour-coded garnish to the bootlid. Depending on which model grade you choose, there are 15-, 16-, or 17-inch alloy wheels. The gloss black items fitted to the range-topping Homura Plus model tested here tie in nicely with the contrasting black door mirrors that are standard on all versions. A panoramic glass sunroof also adds a black roof to the Mazda2 Hybrid. A new Glass Blue colour (a £585 option) joins the other six exterior colour options available.

Interior

We'd love to see more colour inside the Mazda2 Hybrid, as it would liven up a pretty decent cabin. It may be a small car, but there's no question about the interior's build quality, or its fit and finish. Quite how nice the interior will be depends on which specification grade you go for, and in this instance, the Homura Plus - the top-spec version - is packed with items typically seen in larger-sized cars.

The 12.3-inch digital instrument display adds a modern touch to the Mazda2 Hybrid's dash and offers a small degree of configuration. Switching between the selectable drive modes also alters the look of this display, which has crystal-clear graphics and a sensible layout that makes it easy to read at a glance. Also standard with the Homura Plus, a colour head-up display augments that and relays all the important driving information directly into your line of sight.

As standard, the infotainment system has a nine-inch touchscreen, with a larger 10.5-inch screen on Homura Plus. Either display also runs smartphone mirroring with wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Despite the amount of screen real estate inside the Mazda2 Hybrid, there is still a healthy ratio of physical buttons, so adjusting the volume or the cabin's temperature by feel rather than taking your eyes off the road is easier and safer.

Practicality

The Mazda2 Hybrid isn't a big car, but it remains reasonably practical. The boot measures 286 litres, which isn't especially large; you'll get more into the back of a BYD Dolphin, Renault Clio or Volkswagen Polo. The rear seats can tip forward, increasing the cargo capacity to 935 litres, but again, that is less than the competition. Rear passenger space is adequate for two adults, though getting three into the rear will make things seem very cosy. There aren't many amenities for those in the rear either, with a single USB charge port on the back of the centre console and no rear air vents. The doors do contain a cupholder in lieu of the lack of a pull-down centre armrest. Both of the outer rear seats contain Isofix child seat anchor points.

Performance

Mazda's decision to partner with Toyota is smart, as this car has one of the best hybrid powertrains on the market. More than two decades of experience and development have resulted in impressive fuel consumption figures in the real world, and a solid reputation for durability and reliability. While there may be a lot of focus on electric cars currently, small hybrids such as the Mazda2 can still play an important part in reducing local emissions.

The 1.5-litre three-cylinder atmospheric engine produces 92hp and 120Nm, running the Atkinson cycle to boost efficiency. Mated with that is a 59kW electric motor that contributes to the combined power output of 116hp. The power for the electric motor comes from a small 0.7kWh lithium-ion battery that quickly discharges and recharges its energy on the move. Only the front wheels are driven, and the Mazda2 Hybrid uses a belt-driven continuous variable transmission. This CVT improves older systems that often suffer lag when accelerating. It's not as responsive as modern dual-clutch automatic transmissions, but it works well in a car of this size.

One of the big draws to the Mazda2 Hybrid is its minimal running costs, in particular its fuel-sipping ability. On its smallest wheels, the Mazda is capable of 74.3mpg and 67.2mpg on the 17-inch wheels tested here. We're used to some disparity between the manufacturer's claimed fuel consumption figures, but over two days of mixed driving that included some lengthy motorway stints, the Mazda returned a very respectable 64.2mpg.

Numbers aside, it is a smooth and polished powertrain, easily and frequently switching between the combustion engine and the electric motor. In city environs, it is especially proficient at using its electric motor as much as possible, and how it switches between that and the three-cylinder engine almost goes unnoticed. The engine does have a coarse note when under heavily loaded conditions, a common trait with three-pot motors, so if you're chasing refinement then you'll need to drive it more judiciously.

Ride & Handling

You won't find any fancy or elaborate suspension setups in the Mazda2 Hybrid, but that doesn't mean it has all the handling of a shopping trolley. It has decent all-round performance, helped in part by a stiff chassis. Many will end up spending a lot of their time at a slower speed tackling urban obstacle courses, so it's a good thing it rides over speed bumps and broken tarmac with ease.

The bonus is that the Mazda2 Hybrid proves its worth beyond city limits. Even at higher speeds, it maintains stability and composure for a vehicle of its size. Road and wind noise are well-muted, and a gentle lift of the accelerator triggers the appearance of a green EV light on the dashboard as the engine discreetly shuts off to save fuel. How it handles the switch between motors, even at these higher speeds, is impressive.

Value

Four specification grades are available with the Mazda2 Hybrid, starting with the £24,130 Centre-Line. This version is the entry point, and it is the least visually impressive model as it rides on 15-inch wheels and doesn't have the additional front fog lights. Inside, it makes do with analogue dials and a small display. You get the 9-inch touchscreen, which is nice, and plenty of driver assistance features on hand as standard. These include hill-start assist, road sign assist and auto hold for the electronic parking brake.

Going up one grade to the Exclusive-Line bumps the alloy wheels up an inch to 16-inch items and adds keyless entry with a start button. Additional features include blind spot monitoring, automatic wipers, a reversing camera and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. If you want something more upmarket, the £27,280 Homura version might pique your interest. This version rides on black 17-inch alloy wheels, and gains more modern-looking LED headlights and matching LED fog lights, as well as a larger digital instrument display, dual-zone climate control and wireless phone charger list among the techy amenities.

The range-topper is the Homura Plus, which costs a further £1,950. For that, you get a panoramic glass sunroof, a 12.3-inch digital instrument display, a colour head-up display, and a larger 10.5-inch touchscreen.

Verdict

There is plenty to like about the Mazda2 Hybrid, though the proven electrified powertrain is the highlight. It works so well and returns very respectable consumption figures that are pleasingly close to what the brochure states - a rare thing these days. Solid build quality and a decent ride make commuting in it a pleasant experience, even if it does lack some excitement.



Dave Humphreys - 2 Apr 2024



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2024 Mazda2 Hybrid Homura Plus. Image by Mazda.2024 Mazda2 Hybrid Homura Plus. Image by Mazda.2024 Mazda2 Hybrid Homura Plus. Image by Mazda.2024 Mazda2 Hybrid Homura Plus. Image by Mazda.2024 Mazda2 Hybrid Homura Plus. Image by Mazda.

2024 Mazda2 Hybrid Homura Plus. Image by Mazda.2024 Mazda2 Hybrid Homura Plus. Image by Mazda.2024 Mazda2 Hybrid Homura Plus. Image by Mazda.2024 Mazda2 Hybrid Homura Plus. Image by Mazda.2024 Mazda2 Hybrid Homura Plus. Image by Mazda.








 

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