ON THE ROAD – IAN LYNAS DRIVES THE NEW MAZDA2
The term supermini is widely used to describe a small car and this area of the market is a busy one as many have downsized and choice is wide for the buyer. I recently spent a week in company with the Mazda2 which received a significant upgrade for the 2020 model year. This popular model from the Japanese carmaker has been around in one form another since 1996 and not always known as the Mazda2. Other names have included Demio, of course this is all down to the various markets where the car is sold.
I can recall my first ever drive experience with a Mazda2 and it was pretty basic as were the rest of the competition at that time. The latest version is a far cry from those early days and for a small car it is quite sophisticated. With a renewed, more sophisticated exterior design with the strong Mazda family look, the latest evolution of Kodo, the new model bristles with technology, improved refinement and the interior has been upgraded. All ages demand a lot from their car and this new model will certainly appeal to a wider audience than ever. The new model gains a sportier look thanks to the wider signature wing and revised headlights. In real terms, many of the features of cars in segments above have been brought to the supermini sector which will be much appreciated by those who take the Mazda route. A good move by Mazda has been to simplify the range which now consists of five models in Northern Ireland and three in the Republic of Ireland and they all share the same engine, a 1.5 litre Skyactiv- G unit which for the first time sees the Mazda2 with the M Hybrid, a mild system. My test car had a 90PS engine allied to a slick changing six speed manual transmission which was very smooth in operation. (The entry level model features the 75PS version.)
Moving to the well appointed interior, revisions to the dashboard trims, air vent louvers, door inserts and the instrument hood display the improvements in terms of materials used. Sat Nav is a part of the package with a seven inch colour screen and it was very easy to operate with good graphics. News and entertainment on the move is courtesy of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Comfort in a small car is paramount and I found these very acceptable, the new front seats are of a more advanced design and structure which delivers improved support. Comfort also comes in refinement and less interior noise to be appreciated by all occupants. Noise reduction has been achieved by new damping materials and a reduced gap around the base of the B-pillar and there are revised sealing rubbers between the roof panel and the boot.
Riding on sixteen inch alloys and with a shark fin antenna these add to give a real sporty touch to the Mazda2. Behind the wheel I found this member of the Mazda family equally at ease on a fast winding country road or in the town as with its compact dimensions it simply breezed through the traffic and always I managed to park in the tightest of spaces. However to get the best in performance terms I really had to work the gearbox. Rest to 100kph (62mph). takes a round twelve seconds which many will be quite content with. It would be easy for me to say that it is a city car; no it is a good all rounder and is certainly a step up from earlier versions of the Mazda2. The top of the range version has a reversing camera (,something I missed on my test car), leather seats, colour head-up display, heated front seats and steering wheel. Take it from previous experience when winter beckons a heated steering wheel delivers great early morning pleasure. Summing up, in its latest form the Mazda2 is one of the most desirable in its class. While it may not have grown significantly in size, it certainly has grown in terms of quality and sheer driving pleasure.