Now Mazda has given it a low key set of design upgrades, to help it compete against the likes of the Toyota Yaris, Nissan Micra and Vauxhall Corsa.
Blink and you’ll miss it
Telling the new Mazda2 from its predecessor requires an eagle eye. The car looked right to start with, and mercifully Mazda hasn’t fiddled about with the car’s styling to telegraph that it’s new.
So externally the 2 has been given slightly re-profiled bumpers and air intakes, and a few detail trim changes.
The Mazda2 started the trend to reduce rather than add weight to new cars, but a few critics reckoned its light weight led to an occasionally fidgety ride, so the new version has changes to its suspension for a smoother ride.
Inside the car is now trimmed with the sort of soft, classy materials and surfaces that make many Volkswagens feel a cut above their rivals.
Journalists were invited to drive the revised cars from Nice to Monaco at dusk, in a rainstorm on often rutted and pitted roads. Despite tough conditions they proved very pleasant places to be and made their drivers feel instantly at home.
The driving position is comfortable, the no nonsense instruments and controls totally idiot proof, and the Mazda(http://www.autotrader.co.uk/
This extends to the rear, where there was a decent amount of space for a pair of adults. Headroom was excellent too. In fact the Mazda2 does not feel like a small car once you’re inside it.
The only gripe we had with the interior layout was that when the rear seat backrests were folded, they stood proud of the rest of the boot. You can’t tip up the rear seat base cushions and fold the backrests flat into the floor.
The Mazda2 is an engaging car to drive, which pulls off the trick of feeling grown up without being stodgy.
The steering is light and direct, and has a well honed costiveness to it, and the car responds briskly and accurately to the wheel.
Pushed through bends it doesn’t roll excessively, isn’t thrown by poor surfaces and is communicative to the driver without being twitchy. There’s plenty of warning when the tyres begin running out of grip, and the car remains controllable and confidence inspiring.
There wasn’t much wrong with the way the old Mazda2(http://www.autotrader.co.uk/
Some car critics reckoned it could get a little jittery and bouncy on poor surfaces. Mazda has taken another look at the suspension, and given it a series of subtle tweaks to make the system more pliant without sacrificing the car’s handling.
The end result remains a firmly sprung car, but it’s never harsh or uncomfortable, and feels planted on the road.
A variety of petrol 1.3- and 1.5-litre petrol engines with stepped power outputs are offered, together with a 1.6-litre turbo-diesel.
We drove both petrols, mated to five-speed gearboxes, worked by short throw gear levers, which were occasionally slightly fiddly when engaging, top gear.
Both motors sounded busy when extended, but don’t give the impression of strain, and remained smooth under hard acceleration.
They also kept on providing power from low speeds all the way to the red line on the rev counter, and endowed the cars with lively performance.
For the small-engined car, with the higher of two power outputs, Mazda claims 0-62mph acceleration of 13.6sec, a top speed of 106mph, with a combined mpg of 55.4mpg and119g/km of CO2.
As yet, there isn’t a stop and start option, Mazda claiming the car is clean enough without one, but not denying the suggestion that the technology to make this happen had yet to be developed. You don’t have to be a crystal ball gazer to suggest that this will change before this Mazda 2 is replaced.
Inside, Mazda has stuck with changes to make the car better rather than get it noticed. The interiors of all the test cars featured a lot of dark fabrics and plastics, but there was nothing cheap about any of these things.
The end result is unpretentious but has a quality feel to it lacking in some bigger, costlier cars.
Even before the changes, the Mazda 2 was formidably good, something bourne out by how little Mazda has felt the need to change it. Where they have done it’s been usefully improved.
Anybody who liked the old one will probably like its replacement even more. This might also apply to somebody driving one of its rivals.
Model tested: Mazda 2 1.3 TS Air-Con
On the road price: £10,345
Date tested: November 2010
Road tester: Martin Gurdon
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