Photography: Enzo Avagliano-Liuzzi
Models: Yasemin Islek, Apple Moody, Laura Vallance, Miko Kovacevic
Hair/MUA: Mishel Vounatos Bratos
In the light car segment, design is King, and fully aware of this, Mazda has hit it out of the park with its all-new Mazda2.
Looking and feeling bigger than it is, and with Mazda’s, unmistakable new-generation family look, the Mazda2 makes a strong statement that differentiates it from the more quirky offerings of other manufacturers, and indeed the previous Mazda2. These vehicles often polarise the sexes – females gravitate to quirky designs while males view them as emasculating.
While young females remain the light car segment’s key buyers, the new Mazda2 is a car young males, whose primary automotive need is transportation, could easily live with. In fact, many of the males who checked out our test car were very complimentary about its design.
Most people fell in love with the colour, too. The Soul Red metallic paintwork is available at extra cost, but in our opinion, it’s well worth the investment.
The modern design features a small but very stylish instrument panel with a single round dial and twin rectangular displays alongside, while a display unit – similar in look to a docked smart phone – houses the radio or colour touch screen, (depending on the model chosen).
The stylish, leather-covered steering wheel is one of the best-looking airbag-equipped wheels I’ve seen.
Pricing starts at an impressively low $14,990 (plus on-roads) for the Neo, which comes with power windows, air conditioning, tilt and telescopic steering, 60/40 split fold rear seats, trip computer, front vanity mirrors, four-speaker sound system with CD player. There’s also Bluetooth for hands-free calls, with steering wheel switches for phone and audio. There’s also plug and play via USB and charge ports, and an auxiliary audio input jack.
The majority of buyers however are more likely to prefer better equipped, higher priced models.
The Maxx start at $16,990 and comes with all the Neo’s goodies, plus stylish 15-inch wheels, high-gloss interior finish on the centre console and front decorative panel, cruise control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear knob.
For buyers seeking even more from their interior – and a change from usual boring, grey trim of most modern cars – the Maxx offers an optional Colour Pack, consisting of red seats, high-gloss red finishes on the sides of the centre console, the front-door armrest side, the highlight panel on the dash and the ventilation surrounds, complemented by high-gloss white details. Impressively, the Colour Pack will only set you back $250.
The top of the range Genki starts at $19,990 and gains 16-inch wheels, a chrome exhaust extension, front fog lamps, a front upper grille decoration, rain-sensing wipers, climate control air conditioning, soft touch black with red stitching trim for the centre console, front decorative panel and front door armrest, six speaker sound system and twin USB ports.
There is also a seven-inch voice command and rotary command) colour touch screen with smart phone connectivity, facilitating social media use and the ability to read aloud SMS and email messages, together with internet radio integration and satnav.
Mazda2 is big on safety, with all models receiving ABS, a full complement of air bags, hill launch assist, and dynamic stability control. Smart City Brake Support, which applies the brakes in the event of a likely collision, is available as an optional extra.
In terms of pricing, Mazda (a Japanese company) has kept the price down by building Australian delivered Mazda2s in Thailand, though if you can detected any decline in quality, you are doing better than us.
Buyers have a choice of two engines that vary significantly in performance. Both are four-cylinder 1.5-litre units, however the entry level Mazda2 Neo engine produces 79kW of power and 139Nm of torque while the engine fitted to the midrange Mazda2 Maxx and top-spec Genki produce 81kW and 141Nm.
The 81kW version fitted to our Maxx was more than adequate (particularly with the transmission switched to Sport mode), providing spritely performance around town but without the harshness of many smaller engine cars. Similarly, the automatic gearbox – was a delight, producing surprisingly smooth shifts.
The powerful steering makes turning a breeze, requiring light input from the driver without sacrificing feel. The combination of good engine and transmission performance, excellent steering, superb handling and smooth ride make the Mazda perfect for negotiating both tight, shopping mall car parks and open freeways.
We loved the front seats, which are comfortable and very supportive, and reminiscent of those found in more sporting vehicles.
Surprisingly for a car of this size, rear legroom proved more than adequate for average size adults provided you’re driving suburban distances, though we wouldn’t like to fit three adults on the rear seat.
Our verdict? If you’re in the market for a well-priced, top quality small car, you’d be crazy not to drive the new Mazda2.