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Mazda2 Series II arrives

Mazda's touche: refinements inside and out put the Mazda2 back into serious contention.

The Mazda2 makeover aims to improve an already bright and bubbly baby

Mazda logo28 Jun 2005

BUYERS in the light car segment have never really had it so good.

The choices _ from Korea, Japan and Europe _ are expansive and comprehensive with price points spanning from as low as $13,000 up to $22,000 and beyond.

These days too equipment levels rival some larger premium offerings.

In the case of the Mazda2, when it was launched back in 2002, it garnered rave reviews for its quality, interior appointments, spirited engine and cut-above dynamics. That remains so even today.

Even with the arrival of the Ford Fiesta, Smart ForFour, Suzuki Swift, updated Jazz and Citroen C3 our enthusiasm for the diminutive hatch hasn’t dampened.

It may share its basic architecture with the Fiesta but Mazda has infused its own DNA into the hatch.

So, as expected, any changes to be made to the 2 have concentrated on refining what is already a very refined little package.

Equipment-wise there are a sprinkling of updates - from the Audi-like retractable key to new exterior colours and extremely legible gauges.

Equipment in the entry Neo remains right on the money with standard air, dual front airbags, CD player, seatbelt pretensioners, anti-whiplash front seats, central locking and power steering.

The Maxx and Genki add alloys, six-stacker CD player, steering wheel mounted audio controls and driver’s seat height adjustment while the Genki also gets a body kit and foglights.

Visually, the upright wagon-style cabin could best be described as inoffensive rather than overtly handsome. Some of the opposition rate better on the funky scale.

The design however does translate into excellent front and rear headroom and in the rear, good legroom with the added versatility of split-folding rear seats for more load-lugging room.

So too the 82kW 1.5-litre four cylinder impresses with its low-down flexibility, quietness at highway speeds and fuel economy.

Mazda says torque delivery is better and the electronic throttle delivers more linear acceleration but without back-to-back testing with the old car it’s hard to tell.

Certainly everything worked smoothly and the engine impressed with its crispness and willingness to rev to the 6500rpm redline.

The electric power steering is poised if a little lacking in feedback but there’s no noticeable torque steer.

The car also turns-in cleanly while the suspension offers an impressive degree of suppleness belying the car’s size, soaking up all manner of bumps without unsettling occupants.

The five-speed manual was light, accurate and easy to use but the Activematic auto really took our fancy.

Slide the lever to the left allowed manual-mode shifting in a predictive push-forward to downshift or pull back to upshift pattern.

City dwellers will love the flexibility of a full, smooth-shifting auto while manual mode appeals to budding Mark Webbers.

It may also just be the thing to lure across a few more male buyers. Until now, 68 per cent of Mazda2 buyers have been women.

The latest upgrades to Mazda’s pint-size entrant may be incremental, but the smallest of changes ensures the 2 remains one of the best around.


PRICING:
Neo $15,990
Neo (a) $17,840
Maxx $19,025
Maxx (a) $20,875
Genki $20,985
Genki (a) $22,835

DRIVE IMPRESSIONS:

BUYERS in the light car segment have never really had it so good.

The choices from Korea, Japan and Europe are expansive and comprehensive with price points spanning from as low as $13,000 up to $22,000 and beyond.

These days too equipment levels rival some larger premium offerings.

In the case of the Mazda2, when it was launched back in 2002, it garnered rave reviews for its quality, interior appointments, spirited engine and cut-above dynamics.That remains so even today.

Even with the arrival of the Ford Fiesta, Smart ForFour, Suzuki Swift, updated Jazz and Citroen C3 our enthusiasm for the diminutive hatch hasn’t dampened. It may share its basic architecture with the Fiesta but Mazda has infused its own DNA into the hatch.

So, as expected, any changes to be made to the 2 have concentrated on refining what is already a very refined little package.

Equipment-wise there are a sprinkling of updates from the Audi-like retractable key to new exterior colours and extremely legible gauges.

Equipment in the entry Neo remains right on the money with standard air, dual front airbags, CD player, seatbelt pretensioners, anti-whiplash front seats, central locking and power steering.

The Maxx and Genki add alloys, six-stacker CD player, steering wheel mounted audio controls and driver’s seat height adjustment while the Genki also gets a body kit and foglights.

Visually, the upright wagon-style cabin could best be described as inoffensive rather than overtly handsome. Some of the opposition rate better on the funky scale.

The design however does translate into excellent front and rear headroom and in the rear, good legroom with the added versatility of split-folding rear seats for more load-lugging room.

So too the 82kW 1.5-litre four cylinder impresses with its low-down flexibility, quietness at highway speeds and fuel economy.

Mazda says torque delivery is better and the electronic throttle delivers more linear acceleration but without back-to-back testing with the old car it’s hard to tell. Certainly everything worked smoothly and the engine impressed with its crispness and willingness to rev to the 6500rpm redline.

The electric power steering is poised if a little lacking in feedback but there’s no noticeable torque steer.

The car also turns-in cleanly while the suspension offers an impressive degree of suppleness belying the car’s size, soaking up all manner of bumps without unsettling occupants.

The five-speed manual was light, accurate and easy to use but the Activematic auto really took our fancy.

Slide the lever to the left allowed manual-mode shifting in a predictive push-forward to downshift or pull back to upshift pattern.

City dwellers will love the flexibility of a full, smooth-shifting auto while manual mode appeals to budding Mark Webbers. It may also just be the thing to lure across a few more male buyers. Until now, 68 per cent of Mazda2 buyers have been women.

The latest upgrades to Mazda’s pint-size entrant may be incremental, but the smallest of changes ensures the 2 remains one of the best around.

GoAuto can help you buy a new Mazda2

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