The all-new Mazda 2 launches into a segment that includes names like Jazz, Yaris, Fiesta and Polo. But just how much has changed since its predecessor, and is it enough to justify an upgrade?
Now in its third generation, the new Mazda 2 builds on the modern styling and engaging drive of the highly successful second-generation. And this car is particularly familiar to me because it belongs to my wife – it’s easy to tell because there’s scratches on all four wheels, including the non-curb-side ones.
So, with my wife keen for an upgrade, we’re here today to see whether then new Mazda 2 offers enough incentive to trade up.
When the second-generation Mazda 2 Maxx was launched, it was priced from just over $20,000 and came with 15-inch alloy wheels, body coloured wing mirrors and door handles and the option of stability control.
Inside the cabin there’s a fairly low-rent feel – some of the plastics are a bit hard and nasty. The car also didn’t come with cruise control but we did tick the option for the safety pack which added stability control and six airbags.
Incoroprating Mazda’s latest Kodo design language, the new car has been sharpened with creative angles and modern flair.
Starting from a cheaper $18,990, this Maxx model also features 15-inch alloy wheels but, like it’s older relative, it also misses out on front fog lights and rear disc brakes.
The cabin in this new car feels much more premium. Everything from the soft touch plastics on the dashboard to the little widgets around the cabin and the great steering wheel give this car a feeling of luxury and something you wouldn’t normally expect for a car in this segment.
Annoyingly though, for a car that’s going to spend most of its time around shopping centres and zipping through the city, the Maxx, and the base-model Neo, don’t come with a reversing camera or any parking sensors at all. This may have been acceptable in the old car back in 2008, but fast forward to 2015 and it really is beyond questionable.
The mid-spec Maxx also misses out on the seven-inch touchscreen and MZD Connect, which is standard on the top-spec Genki model. Instead you get this half-unit, which, in terms of functionality, is almost identical to the old car we just stepped out of.
The new Maxx comes standard with Bluetooth connectivity with audio streaming, cruise control, stability control and six airbags.
Under the bonnet of the new 2 is more powerful 1.5-litre Skyactiv-G engine that makes 81kW of power. It’s also mated to a six-speed automatic, which replaces the four-speed in the second-generation Mazda 2. But you can save two grand ($2000) by opting for the six-speed manual.
The ride and handling is pretty impressive for a little car like this, and even the old car erred on the side of sporty and firm, which the new car carries on with as well.
The biggest gripe that both my wife and I had with the second-generation Mazda 2 is the brakes. There’s just like this dead spot before you actually get anything. That’s totally improved on the new car, which is pretty impressive – you just touch the brakes and they’re on straight away, there’s none of that sort of foreplay before anything happens.
An upgrade will also mean less time spent at the fuel bowser with the new Mazda 2 being 30 per cent more efficient at 4.9 litres per 100km on the combined cycle. Pretty impressive and it’s also thanks to stop-start technology, which activates when the car comes to a complete stop and then it starts again when you lift your foot off the brake.
The all-new Mazda 2 is a huge step forward for the brand and takes the city car segment to new premium levels. But the lack of parking sensors and recent four-star EuroNCAP safety rating are pretty disappointing.
These things aside, the new Mazda 2 is likely to win over most buyers given its impressive package… which is bad news for me, because I have to go home and tell my wife.