Our Mazda 2 Neo has settled in quite nicely at the CarAdvice Melbourne office, proving to be an ideal vehicle to commute to and from the inner city.
However, there have been numerous occasions where the Red Rocket has been called on to do more load-lugging duties, and for many buyers of this car you will likely have the odd occasion where a few passengers or luggage will be stuffed in the back of the little hatch.
Let’s face it, the Mazda 2 was never meant to be the vehicle of choice for people moving houses or doing a roadtrip across Australia. Despite this, though, young owners like myself will regularly drive to sports games with team mates, do the weekly shop at Woolies, or lug everyone’s luggage on a weekend away.
Both the 2 and its slightly larger CX-3 sibling are well-known for being the least practical vehicles in their respective segments, and once you hop into the rear, it’s clear to see why.
While front occupants have plenty of head- and legroom, rear passengers are quite tight for space, particularly behind taller drivers.
I’m around six-foot-one and my knees dig into the driver’s seat behind my own driving setup. Additionally, my head touches the roof if I sit upright, so it’s not exactly commodious in the rear.
For short trips, two adults could squeeze in the back and be okay, but three abreast would be borderline cruel. Kids should be fine, though, and there are ISOFIX seat mounts on the two outmost rear pews.
Another gripe is the boot, which is smaller than just about every other rival in the light car segment. Measuring 250 litres, the Mazda 2 is nowhere near as accommodating for luggage as the Honda Jazz (354L), Suzuki Baleno (355L), while also lagging behind the Toyota Yaris (286L).
Folding the second row of seating boosts that volume to a healthier 852L, though the seats don’t fold completely flat and there’s a significant ‘step’ between the boot floor and seat back height when folded.
It does the job if you pack lightly, but when taking a team of four tennis players and their gear, for example, it gets a little squishy to say the least.
However, if you do the majority of your commuting solo, or with one passenger, the little Mazda is a great urban companion.
The front seats are plenty comfortable, even on longer journeys, and the general instrumentation and amenities up the front are mostly easy to use – if a little basic.
Despite the majority of the interior finished with hard plastics, the overall fit and finish of the Mazda 2’s interior is pretty good, with everything feeling solid and well-screwed together. There’s a bit of movement at knee level where the centre stack meets the centre console, though.
Overall the Red Rocket’s interior is mostly comfortable, but not overly practical. If you need a light car that can carry a lot of stuff and people, you probably need to shop elsewhere.
With that in mind, the boot situation can be addressed by opting for the Mazda 2 sedan, which is identically priced, and ups the luggage capacity from 250L to a far more usable 440L – which trumps all the other hatchbacks in the segment.
Click the photos tab for more images by Tom Fraser
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