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Mazda2 battling in B-segment brawl

29.05.2015

IT HAS never been a better or a worse time to be a motorist shopping in the B-segment. On one hand you have a number of worthy competitors all vying for the crown, but at the same time what do you choose? After driving the new Mazda2 recently I can say that I have sampled the entire segment and can make informed comments.

Kodo exterior

On the face of it the new Mazda2 is certainly a very different product. Take the exterior design for example. It has adopted the brand’s new Kodo façade and is certainly one of the better-looking small hatchbacks around. At the front it looks more masculine with sharper lines while still retaining that cute, rounded rear section.

Interior hype

Inside is where the car impresses most though with a great build quality and a top-notch infotainment system with Bluetooth/USB and AUX compatibility. There is the occasional poor quality plastic but overall the interior is well executed.

At 280 litres its boot is marginally smaller than both the selected rivals namely, the Opel Corsa and the Kia Rio. In terms of interior space, the Mazda is longer and taller than key rivals but narrower, yet still has enough space for four adults to sit comfortably.

Powertrain

The powertrain front is where I feel the new car loses ground to a few rivals. You see, my test unit was the 1.5-litre petrol with 82kW/145Nm, which is mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox. Mazda claim a consumption figure of 5.7 litres/100km however, during my time with the car I averaged a shade over 7.0 litres/100km on a combined cycle.

When you consider that there are several rivals with double-clutch gearboxes and small turbo petrol motors, the Mazda does appear to be behind. Do remember though that this is a brand that consistently achieves top results in reliability and ownership satisfaction surveys, so simple is better in some instances.

What’s it like to drive?

I suspect the manual should prove better but the combination of a rev-happy motor and an automatic gearbox means, at times such as in overtaking situations or when that quick burst of acceleration is needed, the car does feel as if it’s straining. In the city under normal driving conditions and on the open road, all is well, though.

In the handling department the little 1 070kg (kerb weight) Mazda2 impresses with sure-footed and confidence-inspired handling, while it does lack somewhat in the steering feel department. The comfort is also up there with the segment leaders with low wind noise and a refined driving experience.

Verdict

The Mazda2 is a very impressive product; its exterior design is the kind of extrovert treatment a vehicle needs to succeed in this segment. It’s also very well made, has a modern interior and stacks up well in the spec sheets. The only problem is, it is let down by its powertrain, especially when compared with others in its segment.

Article written by Sean Nurse
29.05.2015
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