Although on sale for over a year, it is only recently that Mazda has offered diesel power in its supermini. Ian Robertson climbs behind the wheel of the supermarket run special
Of late, Ford’s brand new Fiesta that has been hogging the limelight in the supermini class, and it’s very easy to forget that the new class leading Ford is actually based on Mazda’s 2. You wouldn’t know it to look at them both from afar, but side by side, they seem to have a similar profile and stance. The Mazda2 went on sale in the UK a year earlier than the Fiesta, but it wasn’t until June of this year that diesel power became available. Launched alongside the threedoor versions, it’s the first time that Mazda has sold its supermini in the UK with two fewer doors. Inside, the Mazda2 exhibits plenty of design flair, offering lots of curves and smart detailing, but fails to meet the high standard set by the Fiesta. That’s not to say that the Mazda is bad, it is built to a very high standard indeed and feels very durable, it just lacks some of the soft-touch plastics that adorn its rivals. The positioning of the gearstick is ideal, being placed high up on the centre console, and equipment levels are good with six airbags, air conditioning, 15-inch alloy wheels, power folding door mirrors and an MP3 compatible audio system are all fitted as standard. There’s plenty of room for four adults, although boot space is smaller than most of its rivals, at 250 litres, with the seats in the upright position.
Out on the road, the 2 feels surefooted, with good levels of grip, but is let down at times by quite a firm ride. The steering is communicative, giving plenty of feedback in the windy stuff, meaning the baby Mazda is really good fun to drive. It’s easy to find a comfortable driving position, with all the major controls laid out sensibly and falling easily to hand. Despite only producing 67bhp, the baby of the Mazda range feels reasonably nimble, with wellspaced gear ratios. Once on the move, the engine settles down to a low roar, but like most diesel superminis, can be a little noisy when cold. Recent tweaks to the little Mazda have resulted in the emissions reducing from 114g/km to just 107g/km, which will mean that from next April, the road tax will cost just £20 per year, instead of £35. Hand in hand with this, fuel economy on the combined cycle is now improved at 68.9mpg. Our test car ran the earlier configuration, but all figures quoted in this report relate to the latest model. At the same time as these improvements, Mazda has taken the opportunity to rationalise the range, with the base Mazda2 TS diesel models now deleted from the company’s price lists.
Only the appearance of its sister car, the new Ford Fiesta, stops this Mazda from going to the top of the class. It drives well, is sturdily made and being a Mazda, reliability is assured. The upcoming 1.6 diesel version should give the 2 a real shot in the arm and could turn out to be a real pocket-rocket.
RIVALS: CitroËn C2 Rhythm 1.4 HDi, Ford Fiesta Style+ 1.4 TDCi, Vauxhall Corsa Club 1.3 CDTi 16v ecoFLEX
- Engine: 1399cc, 4 cylinder, turbodiesel
- Gearbox: 5-speed manual
- Max Power: 67bhp at 4,000rpm
- Max Torque: 118lb ft at 2,000rpm
- Max Towing Weight: 800kg
- Combined Consumption: 68.9mpg
- CO2 Emissions (taxband): 107g/km (B)
- 0-62mph: 15.5secs
- Max speed: 101mph
- Insurance group: 3
Fun to drive, communicative steering, low emissions, good economy, comfortable driving position
Small boot, firmish ride