REVIEW DATE: 07 Jan 2008
The Mazda2 didn't put too big a dent in the national consciousness the first time round. The second generation model looks as if it'll do a whole lot better. Andy Enright reports.
By most measures, 410,000 is a lot of cars. Even when they're as small as the old Mazda2, park 'em end-to-end and they'll stretch for 1,000 miles. Mazda sold this many 2s from 2003 to 2007 but for a company that usually takes a big slice of the small car pie, the UK didn't account for too many of those sales. The replacement model has to do a whole lot better. Thankfully, Mazda have equipped it to succeed.
When it was introduced in 2003, the Mazda2 didn't make much of a splash. It followed the tradition of the unloved 121 in offering Ford Fiesta underpinnings with a bit of Mazdafication overlaid. In the case of the 121, that process involved little more than prising the Ford badges off and branding it a Mazda but with the 2 things went considerably further, the Japanese company developing a new body shell based on the existing 'hard points' and making some worthwhile changes to the Fiesta's rather low-rent interior. It wasn't enough though.
In order for the Mazda2 to really differentiate itself, it had to offer something over the Ford other than the fact that it wasn't a Ford. With products like the Focus, Puma and Mondeo having lent kudos to the Blue oval, many customers had wised up that Ford meant good and associated Mazda with little other than the MX-5 sports car. So what's changed this time round?
As some of you may well have guessed, Mazda isn't going it totally alone with the latest Mazda2 three and five-door range. It'll share its underpinnings with the Ford Fiesta, so in that respect little has changed. What is novel is that this time round, Mazda get a run at the market before the Ford is launched - it's similar in many respects to Volkswagen letting the Skoda Fabia off the leash with the all-new Polo chassis first. The chassis itself is simple but very rigid, Mazda using MacPherson strut front suspension and a torsion beam at the back to keep costs down.
"The styling is neat, the cabin well finished and the Mazda brand is now in ruder health than at any point I can remember"
Most buyers will opt for petrol power where there's a choice of 75 or 86ps 1.3-litre engines or a vaguely sporty 102ps 1.5. Dealers will also sell you 1.4-litre 68ps and 1.6 90ps diesel versions. Prices start at around £9,000 for the entry-level 75ps 1.3, but even at this level, you get a decent kit quotient. This runs to ABS with Brake Assist and EBD, driver and front passenger airbags, remote central locking with deadlocks, electric front windows, driver seat height adjust, CD radio with AUX jack and two speakers, multi-function glovebox with magazine rack, Thatcham Category 1 alarm and immobiliser and electric door mirrors.
At the top of the line-up sit the 1.5-litre petrol and 1.6-litre diesel models which wear a 'Sport' badge apparently justified by a 'full sports styling kit'. Buyers of these models can expect 16-inch alloy wheels, dynamic stability control, traction control, cruise control, fog lights, rain sensing wipers and auto lights, electric rear windows, a trip computer, speed alarm, six audio speakers and climate control air-conditioning.
The car that Mazda whipped the dust sheets off at the Geneva Motor Show in 2007 was undoubtedly a very tidy piece of styling. With a sharply rising waistline that suggested a three-door bodyshell, it was clear that the company had managed to give the car a lithe profile while keeping the practicality of five doors. The three-door car arrived later and, if anything, is an even more attractive proposition styling-wise.
At the front, there's the traditional V-shaped Mazda grille and the headlights are very deftly smeared into the front bumper assembly. Likewise the tail lights are neatly integrated into the tailgate which, from a practical perspective, doesn't have the widest aperture as a result. Still, when budget small cars like the Proton Satria Neo now look as good as they do, the expectation for a company such as Mazda is cranked ever higher.
The interior features a number of welcome design touches such as a glove box with integrated magazine rack. There's also a floor console between the front seats with a large rear tray affixed. In total there's 250 litres of storage space which isn't half bad for a supermini. Silver on black detailing on the fascia gives a rather more grown up look and feel than many key rivals. Many of the design themes of the Mazda2 follow on from the SASSOU concept car that was first seen at the 2005 Frankfurt Motor Show.
Although hot hatch fans will be disappointed to hear that there's no tyre-shredding MPS model to go toe to toe with the likes of the Vauxhall Corsa VXR and Renaultsport Clio 200, for those looking for a more sedate pedal there's a lot to offer.
With pricing pitched at below Fiesta levels, the initial signs look very good for the Mazda2, albeit with one or two caveats. The styling is neat, the cabin well finished and the Mazda brand is now in ruder health than at any point I can remember. Perhaps the Mazda2 can get it right second time round.
The results below show the top MAZDA2 deals on buyacar
|Mazda 2 1.5 TS2 5dr Auto hatchback|
|Price £11,942||Save £1,048|
|Mazda 2 1.5 Sport 5dr hatchback|
|Price £12,132||Save £1,358|
|Mazda 2 1.3 TS 5dr hatchback|
|Price £10,098||Save £897|
|Mazda 2 1.5 Sport 3dr hatchback|
|Price £11,682||Save £1,308|
|Mazda 2 1.3 Tamura 5dr hatchback special edition|
|VIEW MORE DISCOUNT MAZDA2 DEALS|
|For MAZDA2 RANGE|
|OVERALL||7.1 OUT OF 10|
|Space / Versatility||7|
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