Let’s be clear from the outset about the one thing the 2020 Mazda GT hatch is not, and that is a Grand Tourer.
What it is, is a city car, and now a rather expensive one. Mazda’s range of its popular city car has received a facelift and a boost in equipment. It’s also received a price hike across the range, a substantial one at that.
Where previously the Mazda 2 hatch range started at an economical $15,570 and topped out at $24,400 (plus on-roads), the new pricing sees that fatten out from $20,990 for the Pure manual to $25,990 for the range-topping GT auto on test here. To be fair to Mazda, the range has been chopped, with the price-leading Neo variant dropped entirely.
Still, that pricing is now deep inside small car territory, where bigger cars, such as the Kia Cerato and Hyundai i30, can be had for similar money with similar kit. It’s certainly an interesting strategy from the Japanese brand as it tries to reposition itself into the premium-ish classes.
Circa $26k is a lot of money for a city car. placing the GT hatch into the gun sights of rivals from Europe and Japan with either more brand cachet or performance, sometimes both. An Abarth 595, as example, can be had for $26,990 plus on-roads, while $25,390 gets you all the Volkswagen Polo money can buy aside from the range-topping GTI.
So what does 26 grand of Mazda 2 get you? Let’s find out…
This mid-life update brings some subtle styling tweaks around the grille, front bumper and headlight treatment. The most noticeable is the grille, which has been flattened and widened to lend the Mazda 2 a slightly meatier stance, certainly from the front. The GT sits on standard 16-inch alloys, shod in 185/60 R16 rubber all ’round.
While the styling tweaks are minor, it’s inside where the MY20 Mazda 2 GT receives the biggest overhaul. Standard equipment in the GT now includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a 360-degree camera as well as advanced safety tech like blind-spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and lane-keeping assistance along with pedestrian detection, which has been added to the low-speed city autonomous emergency braking system.
There are newly-designed seats too, which Mazda promises will offer greater comfort. Wrapped in partial leather, the front pews are indeed supportive and comfortable.
The cabin features plenty of soft touchpoints, which does add some plushness to the experience. There’s a 7.0-inch infotainment screen sitting atop the dash running Mazda’s older MZD interface and not the newer, fresher look found in Mazda 3 and CX-30. Still, with smartphone mirroring, native navigation, DAB+ digital radio and Bluetooth connectivity, it is perfectly acceptable at this price point.
The interface is controlled via Mazda’s tried-and-trusted rotary dialler in the centre console. It’s fine once up-and-running, but as we’ve experienced with the older MZD in the past, it can be a little glitchy, especially when first connecting.
A single USB point and a 12V socket help in keeping devices juiced up (and in running CarPlay/Android).
The leather-wrapped steering wheel feels solid in hand, and frames a single central tachometer which incorporates a digital speed readout. There’s also Mazda’s flip-up screen head-up display, which is crisp and easy to read. Two small LCD screens either side of the tacho provide some driver information, but a fully digital cockpit display, this ain’t.
The back seats, as you’d expect, are adequate at best for grown-up humans, best saved for short trips. No grand touring in this little city car, despite the lofty pretensions of its GT name. Amenities are scarce back there too – as in, there are none. No air vents, no charge points, not even a fold-down armrest with cupholders. This is temporary accommodation at best, but that’s okay, because we’d venture most people buying into the city-car class aren’t regularly ferrying around three or more people.
Boot space is adequate at 250 litres with the back seats in use. Mazda doesn’t quote a figure for when those same seats are folded in 60:40 fashion. They don’t fold flat though, leaving a noticeable and not very user-friendly hump in the floor. That lip of the boot is quite high too, meaning your goods will need to be lifted in and out quite substantially – no sliding stuff in. There’s a space-saver spare under the floor.
Options? There aren’t any other than premium paint, which our little GT proudly wore in the near-ubiquitous Mazda Soul Red Crystal, a $495 addition to the bottom line.
Mazda has made some tweaks under the bonnet, too. All variants of the Mazda 2 run the now familiar 1.5-litre, naturally-aspirated four-cylinder petrol engine, putting out a modest 82kW (at 6000rpm) and 144Nm (at 4000rpm). That’s a barely-there power and torque bump – 1kW and 3Nm respectively – over the pre-facelifted GT model, or 3kW and 5Nm up on the earlier base models. Sending those numbers to the front wheels is Mazda’s six-speed automatic. There is no manual option, with self-shifting available only in the entry-level Pure.
And for the most part, it’s an adequate powertrain, certainly around the city where the 2 will likely spend most of its time. It’s not exactly perky though, with maximum power and torque not available until quite high in the rev band. But at city speeds, that is less of an issue.
There’s a lightness to the 2 in the urban environment, and while not exactly zippy, it doesn’t feel out of place. A tight turning circle of 9.8 metres only serves to emphasise its diminutive dimensions.
The transmission is smooth for the most part around town too, although it displayed a propensity to change down a ratio too eagerly under mild acceleration. And there’s a lurchiness to its manner when it changes down, especially tackling a hill. It’s by no means terrible, but it is noticeable.
The ride around town feels light, especially over some rough patches of urban tarmac. There’s some jarring over larger lumps, but again, it’s not on the side of terrible. It’s worth noting though.
Once out on the open road though, and the little 2 is adequate at maintaining a triple digit speed, even if it does take a while to get there. You have to plan your overtaking or merges accordingly, or else the drivetrain will catch you out. Once at the desired speed, though, and the Mazda settles into a nice hum although tyre roar is noticeable.
Mazda says the 2 GT will run on 5.3L/100 of 91RON unleaded on the combined cycle, but after our week with the car, spent roughly 50:50 around the inner city and on long, loping highway runs, we saw an indicated 7.8L/100km.
Mazda covers the 2 with its now standard five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, including five years’ roadside assistance.
Servicing is required every 12 months or a slightly skinny 10,000km. Mazda’s capped-price servicing program asks for between $300 and $330 per visit, the caveat being you’ll also be slugged for brake fluid at $68 a hit and cabin filter replacement at $89 every two years. These are often inclusive with other brands' capped-price programs.
ANCAP awarded the 2 a five-star rating back in 2015 and that carries over to this face-lifted model.
Mazda has taken bold steps to keep the Mazda 2 fresh, despite its now ageing platform. But the city car segment is inhabited by sub-$20k offerings that, while maybe not as well-specified as the 2 now is in this trim, offer enough value at a price that doesn’t make you blink twice.
That near $26k price tag looks meaty when compared to direct rivals from Kia, Suzuki and Volkswagen, meatier still when lined up against small cars such as the Hyundai i30 and Kia Cerato. Even the $22k entry-level Mazda 2 Pure is fighting with one hand tied behind its back.
That money brings a likeable enough car but one that isn’t outstanding in any one area. Yes, the interior, and yes it’s now loaded with standard advanced safety tech missing – or optional – in some rivals, but in terms of drivability and enjoyment, it’s a pass mark at best. This isn’t a ‘GT’ by any measure.