What is it?- This is the new Mazda 2, a supermini aiming to take the fight to the class-leading Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo.
There is a huge range of choice in this segment, so manufacturers need to do something special to stand out, and the new 2 seems to show plenty of early promise.
It certainly looks quite nice- Indeed. The Mazda2 adopts the ‘Kodo’ design language of other models in the range and – save for a couple of small detail changes – it looks almost identical to the striking Hazumi concept first shown at the Geneva Motor Show in March. The car has grown in length by 140mm relative to its predecessor, to 4,060mm, making it 91mm longer than the Ford Fiesta. The wheelbase is now 2,570mm. with Mazda claiming the 2 now offers ‘top-class rear legroom.’
Meanwhile, the interior features an all-new design, which appears to be a massive leap forward in both appearance and quality over the previous model. A large multimedia screen sits on top of the dash, above a simple and elegant swathe of trim which sweeps from one side of the cabin to the other.
Beneath that sits three rotary dials for the heating and ventilation. It certainly looks very smart and even a cut above some rivals’ cabins. The Mazda2 offers the first head-up display (which projects information such as speed onto the windscreen) in the class, which not only looks cool, but aims to increase safety by keeping the driver’s eyes more focused on the road ahead. It also features blind spot monitoring – a first for Mazda in Europe.
Anything new under the skin?- Mazda’s focus on increasing efficiency by reducing weight is everywhere in the new 2. Referred to by Mazda as Skyactiv technology, the 2 features Skyactiv engines, Skyactiv gearboxes, Skyactiv bodyshell and chassis, and Skyactiv cupholders. We may have made that last one up, but you get the point: everything is designed to work together to be more efficient.
All of this weight saving effort has had a positive effect, though. Through the use of lightweight high strength steel, the lightest Mazda 2 is 95kg lighter than an entry level Fiesta, despite being a larger car.
This weight saving contributes to what Mazda claims is a fine ride and handling balance, promising, “significantly advanced comfort and confidence-inspiring stability that is unusual for a subcompact” As well as improving the driving experience, Mazda believe that the major efficiency push throughout the range will benefit both performance and economy, too.
So has it worked?- Well it certainly appears to show promise, if the figures are to be believed. Four engine options are available; a 1.5-litre petrol ranging from 74 to 114hp, and a 1.5-litre diesel with 104hp. The diesel is a brand new unit, and it delivers an claimed 69.2mpg, with tiny CO2 emissions that result in free road tax for private buyers. The petrol engines are fairly frugal, offering economy figures between 48 and 52.3mpg.
Meanwhile, CO2 emissions fro the petrols range between 105 and 115g/km, which means buyers can expect to pay £20 or £30 for annual road tax. The two least powerful petrols are equipped with five-speed manual gearboxes, while the top petrol and diesel have a six-speeder. There is also a six-speed automatic available as an option.
How much will it cost me?- UK prices have yet to be announced, and Mazda say that the car will go on sale early in 2015.