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Driven: Next-gen Mazda2 lands for $14,990

Battle royale: Mazda hopes its Mazda2 will be the best seller in the sub-$25,000 light car segment next year.

Fourth-generation Mazda2 has landed in Australia ready for light car title fight

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Mazda logo28 Oct 2014

MAZDA has its sights set on reclaiming the light-car crown in Australia with its fourth-generation Mazda2 that features new levels of refinement, the latest in car-tech and more powerful and fuel efficient engines at a lower entry price than the outgoing model.

Kicking off the three-grade line-up is the Neo manual from $14,990, plus on-road costs, which is $800 less than the previous model, while the automatic is $450 less than the outgoing car at $16,990.

The prices undercut key rivals in a fiercely competitive segment that has seen the Mazda2 go from the top-seller in 2013 to chasing new leader Hyundai i20, which is ahead by 1142 units so far this year.

The Mazda2 is more affordable than base four-door competitors such as the $15,390 Holden Barina CD, $16,290 Kia Rio S, $16,790 Renault Clio Authentique, $15,825 Ford Fiesta Ambiente and $16,290 Volkswagen Polo Trendline.

Of its direct rivals, only the Honda Jazz VTi matches the entry price of the Mazda2.

Mazda Australia senior manager of public relations Steve Maciver said he is confident the new Mazda2 will strike back in 2015 to top the segment again.

“This car is definitely a step up from the outgoing model and we think it’s a very good value proposition as well – with that in mind we have very high hopes,” he said.

“We think there’s absolutely every chance it can snare the title back of being the best-selling light car in the country. The previous car has been a really big success for us and we see no reason why the new car shouldn’t be the same.” In the seven years since its launch, the third-generation Mazda2 has sold 100,000 units – about 1200 sales each month.

With the new model going on-sale on November 1, Mr Maciver said he expects the volume to rise from current levels but with an expectation of 1100 sales monthly in 2015.

“There will be an upside in terms of volume for this car. The current car has done really well, but it’s getting on – and only in the past six to 12 months has the volume slowly started to peg back, but we’re delighted with how that car has done for us.

“When the new car comes the volume again will rise from what we’re doing right now.

“We hope it gets a positive reaction. The car is completely new from the ground up and in terms of value we think it’s a very good proposition as well.” Mazda simplified its Mazda2 range in September last year down to just Neo Sport and Maxx Sport variants, but the previous nomenclature has been restored to Neo, Maxx and Genki.

Stepping up from the Neo into the manual Mazda2 Maxx costs $60 less than the outgoing model at $16,990 while the automatic is $410 dearer than the previous car at $18,990.

The top-of-the-range Genki is $19,990 in manual form and $21,990 for the auto.

Replacing the previous 76kW/135Nm powerplant is a new 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine in two states of tune – a 79kW/139Nm unit for the Neo and 81kW/141Nm version for the two higher grades. There is no diesel variant available.

All grades come with a choice of a six-speed manual gearbox or six-speed automatic transmission.

Fuel economy has improved 28 per cent with the high-spec 1.5-litre auto returning a claimed 4.9 litres per 100km, while efficiency has been increased 15 per cent in the manual version with 5.4L/100km.

While the previous Mazda2 shared its underpinnings with the Ford Fiesta, the fourth-generation car has a new platform and chassis with MacPherson struts upfront and a torsion beam rear.

Mazda says the SkyActiv body is 22 per cent more rigid than the outgoing model, while kerb weight for the heaviest automatic Genki is down 4kg to 1058kg.

At 4060mm long and 1495mm high, the new Mazda2 is 160mm longer and 20mm taller than the outgoing car, but retains the same 1695mm width.

This is the fourth vehicle from the Japanese car-maker to adopt the 'Kodo - Soul of Motion' design language incorporating the new low-set grille and headlights.

High-quality components from the Mazda3 have made their way into the refined cabin with new materials, chrome-effect trim, high-gloss panels, carbon-fibre look finishes and stitched leather.

Standard features on the Neo include 15-inch steel wheels, halogen headlights, cloth trim seats, air-conditioning, audio system with CD player, Bluetooth connectivity, USB port and push-button ignition.

The Maxx adds 15-inch alloy wheels, unique black/blue seat colour, high-gloss centre console and front door armrest panels, cruise control and leather-clad steering wheel and gearshift knob.

The range-topping Genki brings 16-inch alloy wheels, chrome exhaust tips, front fog-lights, auto headlights, rain-sensing wipers, seven-inch colour touchscreen with Active Driving Display and new MZD connectivity system, app-enabled internet radio with six-speaker audio, satellite navigation, Commander Control unit, plus soft-touch centre console and front door armrest panels. The previous Mazda2 was awarded a five-star ANCAP crash test rating and the new generation car has a host of safety features including ABS, stability and traction control, electronic brake-force distribution, emergency brake assist, hill hold and Isofix child seat anchor points.

Optional across the range is Smart City Brake Support which brakes to avoid a collision at speeds between 4km/h-30km/h.

Mazda2 pricing*
Neo $14,990
Neo (a) $16,990
Maxx $16,990
Maxx (a) $18,990
Genki $19,990
Genki (a) $21,990
*Excludes on-road costs.

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