Now in its fourth generation, the Mazda 2 is a supermini that believes in doing things its own way. It might not be the complete package of the Ford Fiesta or be as roomy as the Skoda Fabia. What you do get when you buy a used Mazda 2 is a distinctive car with a bit more pizzazz than many of its closest rivals.
If you thought Kodo was an obscure martial art, or even a type of giant lizard, then Mazda has a surprise in store for you. It’s a Japanese design philosophy that they introduced in 2010 which relies on simple, flowing lines to create a dramatic look - at least that’s the theory.
Yes, this might all sound a little, well, pretentious, yet if you look closely at the Mazda 2 you can see it in its swooping roofline and the contours of its doors. The subtle tailgate spoiler even gives it a bit of a sporty edge.
This all definitely stamps the Mazda hallmark on the car and makes it look like the little brother, or sister, to the Mazda 3.
The subtle tailgate spoiler even gives it a bit of a sporty edge.
What’s it like to drive?
Lots of superminis go for smaller engines they then turbocharge or soup up in some way to get the oomph that’s needed. Where they’ve zigged, Mazda has decided to zag by using bigger engines to achieve the same effect. The result is that they don’t have to work quite as hard, leading to a more relaxing ride all around – although they can be pretty noisy at motorway speeds.
Mazda also uses a system they call G-Vectoring control that automatically adjusts engine power as you go into corners. This makes handling a breeze, and the finely-tuned suspension means a smoother ride than many small cars can give you.
The finely-tuned suspension means a smoother ride than many small cars can give you.
It’s obvious that just as much attention’s been paid to the interior of the Mazda 2 as to the outside. The result is a cabin that looks a little more upmarket than you might expect. This is also thanks to some clever little touches. Who’d have thought that putting in ‘eyeball’ air vents - as featured in some Audis - would create a more stylish dash? And why don’t more car makers lay out the instruments in such a logical and eye-catching way?
The ideal driving position is simple to get right thanks to all the adjustments you can make to the seat and the steering wheel positions and visibility is good, front and back, so there’s less risk of dings to the bumpers.
On cars fitted with the seven-inch infotainment screen, there’s another neat idea – a rotary dial as a control that’s a lot less fiddly to use than a touchscreen while you’re on the move. And, because you may well have a passenger with a different opinion about what the temperature should be, the heating and air-con controls are conveniently placed in the middle of the dashboard.
On paper, the Mazda 2 is a practical car, but in metal not so much. Yes, it has five doors but the back ones give off quite a tinny “clang” when you slam them shut.
The rear tailgate opening, as well as being quite small, also leaves you with quite a drop to the boot floor. That said, once you’ve folded down the 60/40 rear seats, you’re left with quite a useful space. Not as useful as you’d get with a Volkswagen Polo, but still enough to take a few big bags of stuff to the recycling centre or a flatpack bookcase or two.
If you’re looking for a spare wheel, don’t bother. There’s just room for a can of temporary repair foam that may be enough to let you limp to the nearest tyre centre if you ever get a flat.
Running costs and reliability
When Mazda decided the way to go was to use bigger 1.5-litre engines, part of the reason was to promise fuel economy figures that would be accurate in the real world, not just in the test lab. Turns out they were spot on.
The best of their petrol engines will genuinely give you up to 62.7 mpg, the sort of figure that would be respectable for many diesel engines.
What we love
Mazda have broken quite a few moulds with the car to come up with one that has sharp looks, great economy and an interior that’s comfy and well-equipped. It might not have the biggest boot for the class, but for zipping around town it’s got to be a serious contender.
Still looking for the one?
Use our comparison tool to find the car for you
They used to have the strapline that ‘you’d be amazed at a Mazda’ and, you’ll certainly be quite impressed by the 2. It’s not top of the class, but it’s far from being made to sit in the corner as you’ll discover if you give one ago.
This review was