The Mazda2 is a supermodel, so the advertising says. But can we actually see where Mazda is heading with its catwalk queen analogy? This is no plus-sized model. It’s 100kg lighter than its predecessor — shedding weight is important in the modelling world.
Most car manufacturers fatten their cars out with more and more fripperies, whereas Mazda has a ‘gram strategy’ where it analyses the whole car and finds out where it can save micro-portions of weight. 690g came off the bonnet by making the latch smaller and the hinges thinner; and Mazda has managed to make a car that is more structurally rigid, but shaves 22kg off the body shell alone, partially by making it shorter by 40mm and lower by 55mm while keeping the same wheelbase.
This stiffer body enhances the ‘zoom-zoom’ effect with improved handling and noise/vibration/harshness, and a stronger passenger safety cell. This ‘absence of weight’ was very evident on my test circuit that contains several very tight sections marked at 25kph (they are curvy ‘traffic calming measures’). I could easily maintain almost 60kph through these, performance matched recently only by the Fiat Bravo and its enormously wide tyres. Many of the cars I’ve had start struggling at 55kph, especially the ones that are double the Mazda’s featherweight 1021kg.
So we’ve established that as a nippy city runaround the Mazda2 excels. It’s not the sprightliest off the line with its 76kW — expect around 10 seconds to 100kph, which is adequate — but it sheds speed under heavy braking like you’ve driven into Shelob’s web. Mazda’s ABS tends to lock the 185/55/R15 wheels slightly more than other cars, but it doesn’t hamper the deceleration. Purchase the next model up (the Sport) and you get Dynamic Stability Control and traction control.
All Mazda2 models come with EBD and EBA for more effective braking, and six airbags for when the braking wasn’t quite effective enough.
Another result of the lack of weight is a fuel consumption of around 6.8l/100km. Around 20kg of this Mazda’s weight saving comes from changes to the interior. The ‘2 is not over-appointed with unnecessary items. You get a reasonable stereo/CD player with an input for auxiliary music devices. This can be controlled from buttons on the steering wheel. And that’s about it — no trip computer, cruise control or anything electric (other than the mirrors and windows). But it’s all you need.
There is a good choice of colours available, and I don’t think our test car’s ‘Icy blue’ is the best one. It looks better in ‘Spirited green’ or ‘Metropolitan grey’. The lines of the Mazda2 sweep up from the bulging wheel arches to the shoulder, like a crouched athlete. Headlights are thin and fared backwards, wrapping around the corner of the car. The grille is small in the shape of outstretched wings spread across the front, and the steeply raked windscreen is matched by the window line on the sides that rises towards the rear of the car. The tailgate is slightly compromised by the boot line cutting in around the lights meaning that the surprisingly large boot has not quite such a functional opening as you’d expect.
From the side the front wheels look slightly too far back, but from other angles the car is quite a stunner. Mazda expects to sell a lot of Mazda2s, and we can see why. It’s a fun and stylish city car with a practical boot, good safety credentials, a relatively frugal engine and a sensible price.
Price: as tested $22,300 (Classic Auto). Classic Manual from $20,900. Sport models start at $23,100 for the manual and $24,500 for the auto.
What we like
- Value for money
- Boot size
What we don’t like
- Cabin storage is miserly and glovebox is horrible
Words and photos Darren Cottingham