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Our 2017 Mazda 2 Neo long-termer certainly has a lot of strengths, including its cute looks, zippy drivetrain, and its comfortable driving experience. However, one major drawback of the entry-level model is its infotainment system – or lack of.
Unlike higher-spec versions of the little hatch and sedan, the Neo grade misses out on Mazda's MZD Connect infotainment system, which incorporates a 7.0-inch touchscreen display, internet-based radio app connectivity, and somewhere to show the vision provided by the rear-view camera.
The Neo, however, does without both the screen and the rear-view camera system. While this may seem like an insignificant issue for a vehicle so cheap and small, it's quite an annoying omission given that most rivals offer either one, the other or both as standard equipment.
What our long-termer does have, instead, is a monochrome radio system that sits atop the dashboard in similar fashion to the familiar floating tablet-style touchscreen of higher-spec models. There's no rear-view camera at all – despite the company harping on about its focus on safety – and the half-baked system that is fitted to the Neo is frustratingly basic for a vehicle that is pitched as a somewhat-premium offering in its class.
You get standard AM/FM radio features, though there's no DAB+ digital radio like there is on MZD-equipped variants. There's also USB and AUX inputs to physically connect your phone or portable music player, but not much else.
To connect your phone you have to complete a series of button presses and dial spins, unless you can figure out how to use the step-by-step voice control method, and you can only use voice control to make phone calls from your mobile phone as there is no screen to toggle through recent call lists.
Other niggles included phones pairing as a music device only and not a phone, causing the sound of a call being sent through the phone's speakers instead of the car's sound system on several occasions. Thich was not only really annoying but also required the phone to be disconnected and reconnected to the system again. It doesn't happen every time, however.
There's also been a few instances where the system just randomly shuts down and restarts when changing through songs, and takes what seems like an eternity to set itself up and connect to your device again.
Considering the Mazda 2's youth focus, I'm not sure impatient millennials, like myself, would be happy to put up with these little episodes on a regular basis.
Once everything is connected, however, the entry-level Mazda delivers good-quality sound for both music and phone calls.
Unfortunately we can't go into much more detail, because there isn't much more to talk about.
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2017 Mazda 2 Neo hatch
- Odometer reading: 3499km
- Travel since previous update: 1625km
- Fuel consumption since previous update (indicated): 6.5L/100km
- Fuel cost since previous update: $100.77