Car reviews - Mazda - Mazda2 - Sedan range
Price, improved looks, huge boot, affordable options
Room for improvement
No Genki for now, no sportier engine option
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19 Aug 2015
MAZDA'S Kodo design language has been slowly infiltrating each of the manufacturer's models, with favourable reactions from consumers and media alike.
The latest car to receive the new look is this, the Mazda2 Sedan, and from the front, you would have to be hawk-eyed to spot a difference between the big boot version and its hatchback sibling.
Until you get to the C-pillar, only a 25mm lower height differentiates the pair, and both are mechanically identical, which is no bad thing because the new sedan is a big step up in aesthetic terms.
We like the cheeky Mazda2 nose with an obvious visual relationship to the rest of the Mazda family, while offering an identity of its own.
Speaking at the launch of the new model, the Mazda2's designer Shigeki Nakamura pointed out a clever design trick in the little car. For many small hatchbacks, a line drawn from the bottom of the A-pillar bisects the front wheel arch, but the Mazda2 pillar is further back, lending a more rear-drive coupe look.
At the other end, the boot design is another example of good design evolution with the more low-profile and subtle boot looking far less added-on as an afterthought when compared with the previous sedan.
Pop the lid and the little car reveals a surprisingly large luggage area, which defies its exterior dimensions. If 440 litres isn't enough space then the 60/40 split rear seat folds to free up additional load space – an overlooked feature in the Mitsubishi Mirage sedan.
Inside, the Mazda has a spacious cabin with adequate room for four adults in its simple and logically laid out interior. In base Neo versions the equipment levels are basic but reflective of its asking price of $14,990 before on-road costs.
The base version has freestanding control panel on top of the dashboard, which keeps the area tidy and uncomplicated, as does the fourth airvent that has been designed into a stripe that crosses the panel.
Even when stepping up to the Maxx, its 7.0-inch information and entertainment screen doesn't overwhelm the interior and the various systems are easy to navigate with Mazda's Commander control.
Kicking off from $17,690, the Maxx has a good amount of gear, but we would like to see a more luxurious Genki version that is available for the hatchback for $20,690.
For now though a few very sharply priced options are on offer such as the company's trademark Soul Red for $200 (all other colours are no-cost), a $250 colour interior customisation pack for the Maxx and Smart City Brake Support for a bargain $400.
The Mazda2 offers a driving position more comfortable than many compact cars with decent amounts of legroom for our 188cm driver, while the two-way adjustable steering column allows the wheel to extend forward a good distance.
Piloting the little sedan through Adelaide's evening traffic gave us an opportunity to appreciate the comfortable cabin and automatic transmission.
The SkyActiv-Drive six-speed auto is a welcome solution to automatics and far nicer to live with than the CVT (continuously variable transmission) offerings of some rivals. The unit operates smoothly and innocuously, and is well matched to the 1.5-litre SkyActiv four-cylinder petrol engine.
Power from either of the two hardly-worth-separating 79kW and 81kW 1.5-litre engines is best described as adequate, and while the Mazda's performance is not at any time tiresome, it won’t win any races either.
To that end, Mazda has got the power vs economy equation just right with the model. A majority of the Mazda2's owners are likely to be either inexperienced or not driving enthusiasts who won’t see sense in insuring a car that can crack 100km/h in under 7.0-seconds.
That said, we would love to play with a version that borrows the MX-5 sportscar's 1.5-litre engine that manages to pump out a handy 96kW and 150Nm of torque.
As it stands, the little 2 does the dash in about 9.5-seconds, which is fine for a trip to the beach, picking up the kids or taking a few boxes to work.
Fuel economy ranges from 4.9 litres per 100km to 5.5L/100km depending on the variant.
We couldn't tell the difference of 2kW and 2Nm between the “high-spec” (Maxx) and “standard-spec” (Neo) engines and found the transmission choice to have more of a bearing on performance.
When fitted with the excellent six-speed manual gearbox, the Mazda2 had a bit more go and the clicky self-serve box added to the sense of fun that Mazda is trying to portray in its new model.
Some bantamweight cars can have a tinny feel thanks to a lack of sound insulation in the name of weight and cost saving, but other than some road noise, the Mazda is relatively composed.
Whether cruising or revved out to the redline, the engine made the right noises and at the right volume.
Pushing the baby of the Mazda sedan range out of the city and into the hills gave us a chance to stretch its legs and discover that with a kerb weight of just over a tonne, the 2 can be a lot of fun with a bit of momentum.
While the chassis engineers have managed to build in a comfortable ride when cruising, the Mazda is still capable of putting a smile on your face in the twisty bits.
Handling is fairly neutral with enough feel through the electric power steering to know what is going on, and has a character that encouraged a little more pace without pushing to and beyond the limit.
When facing forward you would be hard-pressed to tell the difference between the new Sedan and its closely related hatchback cousin. Both offer a good balance of practicality and fun in a likable package.
In the compact sedan segment, Mazda's rivals all offer similarly compelling packages of power outputs, equipment levels and price points.
However, unlike Mitsubishi, Holden and Toyota, Mazda has cleverly not added a premium for its bigger booted compact car, allowing customers to make a decision based purely on which is the right version for their purposes.
Add to that an altogether more attractive look, and Mazda could be about to get the boot into yet another local segment.
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