Mazda recently introduced a more powerful engine to its baby of the range. James Stiff tests the new Sport diesel
Ford’s award winning Fiesta actually has a twin. Not an identical one, but one that shares its floorplan and many of its attributes. And while the pretty Fiesta has been hogging most of the limelight, the Japanese firm has been working on a plan to hit back at the blue oval, with a new 89bhp diesel-powered Mazda2 Sport.
There’s more visual drama thanks to an aggressive bodykit, tasty 16-inch alloy wheels, front fog lights and projector style headlamps, together with stiffer, suspension. Sport specification also includes sports seats, a leather steering wheel and an aluminium gearknob.
Slide behind the wheel and the diminutive dimensions belie what is actually a deceptively roomy supermini. There’s room for four average sized adults, although six-footers may struggle a little in the back. There’s an adequate amount of boot space – 250 litres with the seats upright, increasing to 787 litres with them folded. The although pleasant, it lacks some of the soft-touch plastics that many rivals have now adopted. Storage areas are on the sparse side though, and the Mazda lacks places to hide the variety of gubbins that the average motorist hoards.
The dials and instruments are a pleasing design and easy on the eye, especially at night when some displays can dazzle you. The figure hugging sports seats are one of the Mazda’s strong points, with deep padding, offering a comfortable driving position. And while the seats are height adjustable, it’s a shame that the steering wheel only adjusts for height, and not for reach. Out on the road, the 1.6-litre unit revs freely and with little noticeable turbo-lag. Power is available right through the rev range, so it feels very petrol- like to drive. Generous amounts of low-down torque are useful and allow for swift overtaking. Despite only having 89bhp on tap, there’s a surprising amount of poke. Things can get a little bit raucous though, as the engine makes a racket at motorway speeds. The suspension set-up gives a firm ride, as you would expect from a car wearing a Sport badge, but it offers decent compliancy around town and on broken surfaces. Handling is first rate, with plenty of grip and composure.
As is typical with Mazda, the Sport is priced exceptionally well, undercutting most of its main rivals by around £1,500. Ford’s Fiesta Zetec S, for instance, is priced at £15,095 – that’s a whopping £1,600 difference. Equipment levels are decent, with electronic stability programme, traction control, four electric windows, rain sensor and automatic headlights all fitted as standard. On most rivals, all of these would be options at extra cost. And the affordable theme continues when you take a look at the fuel economy, where the Mazda2 achieves 67.3mpg on the combined cycle and produces CO2 emissions of just 112g/km. That translates into an annual tax disc cost of just £35 a year, meaning that frugality can be mixed with style.
RIVALS: Ford Fiesta Zetec S 1.6 TDC i, MINI Cooper D, SEAT Ibiza Sport 1.6 TDI CRD
- Engine: 1560cc, 4-cylinder, turbodiesel
- Gearbox: 5-speed manual
- Max Power: 89bhp at 4,000rpm
- Max Torque: 159lb ft at 1,750rpm
- Max Towing Weight: 800kg
- Max speed: 108mph
- 0-62mph: 11.4secs
- Combined Consumption: 67.3mpg
- CO2 Emissions (taxband): 112g/km (C)
- Bootspace: 250/787litres
- Insurance group: 5
Great value, well equipped, low CO2, good fuel economy, sporty looks
No reach adjustment for steering wheel, road noise can get tiring at speed