Mazda: 2015 Mazda2 Limited review

Mazda: 2015 Mazda2 Limited review

This is the car that caught Suzuki resting on its rather comfortable laurels. The Swift has been the top dog of the small car world for years, but not any more: Mazda took what wasn’t really broken, but fixed it in a way unimaginable to Suzuki, and the majority of us, and the result could shake things up.

Mazda2 Limited 2015 frontThe same thing happened to Toyota with its Hilux (a model I complained was long in the tooth back in 2012 review here), and it’s now been smashed by the Ford Ranger. Well, Suzuki, this is the sound of a pummelling coming your way.

If you are reading this and thinking you’ll get a second hand Mazda2 of the previous model, don’t. This new Mazda2 is so far ahead of its predecessor it’s like the difference between Arnold Schwarznegger and Danny DeVito in the movie Twins.

Mazda2 Limited 2015 bootBefore we get into the remainder of the review, which will mostly glow like a bride walking down the aisle, let me tell you about the only annoying part of the Mazda2: scant storage options. They could have done so much by replacing the conventional handbrake with a hydraulic one and making a nice central binnacle area, but they didn’t. Part of the problem is that the controls for the media centre are located there, too, and that takes up valuable space in which you might want to put your phone or other small items.

Mazda2 Limited 2015 rear quarterThe boot space (249 litres) makes up for it a bit – it’s more than the Swift’s 211 litres, and is usable enough for shopping and smaller items. It’s a 5-door so you can always put larger packages on the back seats.

Now that’s over with, here’s the list of items that the Mazda2 has in abundance:


Mazda2 Limited 2015 front interiorThis is a car that looks good from all angles. The Limited has the sweet alloy wheels and fog lights. There are no conflicting lines. It’s a design that suits all people. The interior is consistent with the exterior; everything falls to hand easily and is ergonomic.

Maybe the air conditioning cluster could have been modernised a bit, but the old-style dials are simple to adjust without taking your eyes off the wheel, unlike the touch panel in the Citroen C4 (review here) which we recently reviewed.

Red stitching and red accents on the seats add a welcome splash of colour. Faux carbon fibre inserts break up the black leather Mazda2 Limited 2015 sideand plastic.

The instrument cluster prioritises the rev counter. Flanking that are the trip computers displays which look a little dated their simple LCD style in comparison to the rest of the interior.


Mazda2 Limited 2015 wheelThe brakes were more than capable of hauling the Mazda2 down from motorway speeds rapidly. Turn-in is sharp. It has a little tendency to intervene with the ABS and dynamic stability control if you’re pushing it on bumpy roads, but you do have to be pushing it hard – something the vast majority of Mazda2 owners are unlikely to do.

I’m not a big fan of accelerator pedals hinged at the bottom rather than at the top – just personal preference.

Mazda2 Limited 2015 screenTechnology

I looked back over some of the reviews that I’ve written since I started doing this in 2007. If you go back just 4-5 years you won’t find the amount of technology the Mazda2 has in any car under $100,000. Today, though, you get Bluetooth streaming from your phone, lane departure warning, head-up display, stop/start technology (stops the engine when stationary at traffic lights, for Mazda2 Limited 2015 rearexample), keyless entry and start, blind spot monitoring, and emergency braking if the Mazda2 detects you’re about to run into something.

The satellite navigation has 3D buildings in some places (e.g. central Auckland) and the screen doubles as a display for the reversing camera and media functions.

There’s automatic high beam control which I always disable because I find it never quite works well enough.


There are 6 airbags and a 5-star ANCAP safety rating. If you brake hard it flashes the hazard warning lights to warn drivers behind. It comes with hill start assistance and an engine immobiliser.


A fairly nimble engine and intelligent gearbox coupled with fairly light overall weight mean that if you want to hustle, you can. The 1.5-litre, 4-cylinder engine only produces 81kW with 141Nm of torque, but it makes efficient use of it. The fuel economy is quoted at 4.9l/100km, which was predictably unattainable without annoying other drivers. Mid-to-high sixes seems more realistic in every day driving.

The Skyactive-Drive 6-speed automatic gearbox likes to change cogs rapidly and has a manual mode, too (with proper sequential: push forward to change down). It will also hold it in a lower gear if you are coasting downhill so that you don’t pick up speed.

Let’s return to where we started around 850 words ago: Mazda has created the new top dog. It’ll probably take a while to dent the Swift’s dominance as it has existing momentum but, like the Ranger beating the Hilux, the superior car should eventually succeed. However, if Suzuki lifts its game within the next few months, I can’t imagine how another such dramatic leap could be made within the price range.

Price: $28595 (Limited, as tested); base model from $21745


  • It’s the small car to beat


  • Limited storage options

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