The Mazda 2 caught my eye after I had seen its 2017 mild update. Several months later, the little pocket rocket has been in my family for about a year and a half now. It's endured many experiences in that time and has revealed the good and the not-so-good things about it. My Mum and I decided to choose the Genki for its suitable interior trim and the features offered.
The exterior of the car sports 16-inch alloys wrapped in Dunlop Enasave tyres, LED daytime running lights, headlights and fog lights, electric mirrors (with an auto folding function), a chrome exhaust tip and nice swooping lines on the body work.
The actual appearance of the car can be somewhat polarising. The car looks great in certain lighting, at certain angles and with certain features used. I mean, I think the car looks best at dusk with the headlights on and while it's moving. Nevertheless, the car's design catches my eye every single time.
Moving into the interior and you're greeted with a 7-inch touchscreen with MZD Connect, an Active Driving display, with the steering wheel, gear lever and the handbrake wrapped in leather. There's also a host of other clever technologies, such as AEB forward and reverse, blind-spot monitoring, traffic sign recognition and a very crisp reversing camera.
The front seats are very comfortable and offer a lot of support for my measurement. I am able to get into my driver's position perfectly, and with being 5 foot 5 that's not a hard task. There's padding on both sides of the centre console for the driver and front passenger, which is a nice touch.
Other niceties to add are oodles of flexible adjustment in the steering rack, and the Active Driving Display also has plenty of adjustment. Handily, the dash is very easy to read and includes a digital speedometer. Yay!!
However, it's not perfect, and in fact is far from it. Some materials could be more tactile, there's no auto door lock when you start driving and there's no centre armrest. The latter is most frustrating as it has an impact on the perception of quality, not that there are any issues with the build quality of the vehicle.
The backseat passengers certainly won't have the same experience as the front passengers. The rear seats don't get used much with my lifestyle considered, but there's no bottle holders, door bins or any armrest to speak of. One map pocket and little nooks in the door armrest are the options to speak of.
The rear bench is comfortable, however, and I'm able to find a comfortable position without much fuss. I can spend hours in the backseat and not have a sore back after. The visibility from the rear is perfectly fine, and the knee room, to speak of, is highly dependant on who is sitting in the seat in front.
I know what you're thinking; how's the middle seat for usage? If you're my size it's fine, but any bigger and it's short trips strictly.
So the interior is excellent when compared to the 2's rivals. Just improving the aforementioned niggles would make the little Mazda feel like a more substantial package.
Now to the driving experience. The Mazda 2 features a 1.5-litre engine with 81kW/141Nm and this is mated to a six-speed automatic, which is a $2000 option. A cold start is oddly loud and it's best to let the car warm up for about 2 minutes before driving. This aforementioned combination allows for a very relaxed drive in all conditions except for steep hills.
The Mazda will get up the hills, you just have to accelerate strategically to get the response you want from the transmission. I find that sharp - but slight - pushes of the accelerator pedal allows the transmission to drop two gears, which then pulls the 2 up the hill easily. It's also important to add that when it's a hot day, the 2 tends to have some lag around 1800-2500rpm. This doesn't bother me too much as this is not a frequent occurrence.
Find a quiet road and the little Mazda is fun to whip around in a corner. The sharp brakes, lively engine response and clever transmission makes this a fun little pocket rocket to drive. When this happens, you forget about the shortcomings of the interior that I mentioned before. You start to really fall in love with the 2, you think about all the good things about the car and the niggles slowly fade.
In everyday driving, the suspension is firm but offers a high level of refinement. You're always protected from large bumps in the road but you do have to slow down for speed humps, sometimes following the yellow recommended speed signs (Not many people do this in Melbourne). The steering is light but communicative and you receive decent feedback.
The Mazda 2 also features i-Stop, which is a system that stops the engine when the car is stationary and when the conditions are suitable. The system works a treat and the drivetrain is engaged with almost no hesitation when the engine turns back on.
Overall. the Mazda 2 has been an amazing car to be able to drive while on my learners. It's super cheap on fuel (I do an average of 6 litres per 100 kilometres), has a stack of features to keep you entertained, it's great to drive and handles all weather conditions with ease.
Just having a centre armrest, more tactile materials and better storage catered for all passengers would make this baby Mazda a complete package. Otherwise, I love the car and I would happily own one myself!
NOTE: We have used a CarAdvice photo of a 2015 Genki for this story.