IT’S the baby brother (or sister) of the Mazda3 and the offspring of the larger mid-sized Mazda6. In its sedan form (as tested here) the Mazda2 offers a lot of value in a small car package, and has even been designed to ensure your golf clubs or some major luggage fits in the boot.
Load carrying and small car performance have always been natural enemies. But Mazda is hoping the practically of a serious boot in the new Mazda2 sedan will temp more buyers to park a city car in their suburban garages.
First impressions look promising. With the Kodo design philosophy now firmly entrenched across the range, the Mazda2 sedan looks every bit the younger sibling of Mazda3 and Mazda6. Gone are the days of the cute Mazda2 being styled exclusively toward the younger female demographic.
The extra boot is nicely integrated into the overall design and proportions, with the sedan now 260mm longer and 25mm lower than the hatch. Despite the Mazda’s impressive 440 litre rear end, the sedan loses nothing in the beauty stakes compared to the relatively lithe 250 litre hatch.
While smaller than the class leading 536 litre Honda City, the Mazda2’s boot genuinely surprises, being larger than both the Mazda3 and CX-5. Yes golfers, you can comfortably carry a full size bag and clubs thanks to the cut-out side wall panels. The 60/40 split rear seats add further capacity, despite the rear seats not lying completely flat.
The sedan’s interior again mimics its bigger brothers, albeit with harder plastics given the $14,990 starting price of the Mazda2 range. The feeling is modern and youthful, with black surrounds and a splash of bright red highlighting the dash and vents.
The leather wrapped steering wheel, gear knob and handbrake add a touch of quality, while the 7 inch tablet style MDZ audio visual system, featuring rotary commander and touch screen inputs, provides the showbiz.
The black fabric seats are firm, comfortable and supportive. From the front the Mazda2 feels much larger than it is. However the city car dimensions become clear from the rear, with limited leg room for adults and an unusable middle seat.
Tilt and telescopic adjustment of the steering wheel help make finding a relaxed driving position easy. The main gauges with the exception of the tiny tacho are easy to read, however blind spot vision is limited by the close up A pillar, causing a noticeable reliance on the driver’s side mirror.
On the road was where the real challenge began. Our 6 speed automatic Maxx spent a week in cross town commuting. Heavy peak hour traffic and the hills of Sydney tested its 1.5 litre, 81kW power plant. Throughout the Maxx’s engine revved freely and performed strongly when given the opportunity, coping easily with everything Sydney could dish up.
The automatic transmission however struggled at times with Sydney’s hills. The high gearing, economy mode auto is well matched for leisurely city driving, but whenever climbing power was required progress slowed noticeably.
Flip the toggle into Sport mode, or slide the auto into manual when ascending and suddenly the engine would burst back to life as though oxygen had been restored. In Sport mode the transmission powered through the lower gears, however the engine would over rev whenever acceleration petered out in 60kph traffic, unable to grab the next gear. Finding a happy medium meant shifting modes more often than should be necessary.
Mazda’s claimed fuel economy of 4.9l/100km for the auto (5.1 for the manual) was never likely to be matched in the heavy traffic conditions. Our consumption figures ranged from 6.7 to 7.5 litres/100km, despite the frequent engagement of the stop/start function.
On the move the Mazda2’s direct steering restored its zooming credentials. Riding on 15 inch alloys the car always felt agile yet secure on the road. Braking was untroubled despite the use of drums on the rears. Road bumps were well absorbed for such a small car, although road noise remains an issue.
The Maxx tops the Mazda 2 sedan range. Starting at $17,690 plus on-roads it features a reversing camera and rear parking sensors, however sat nav remains a $570 option and the auto adds a further $2000. We didn’t test if our car was fitted with the $400 Smart City Brake Support, but Mazda claims it is now added by 13% of the city car’s buyers.
The Mazda2 Maxx Sedan presents a solid argument for buyers who want a huge boot, but can do without the extra size, performance and price-tag of the top selling Mazda3. Modern equipment levels, smart styling and added practicality should see the Mazda2 sedan appearing in more suburban streets.
Our test vehicle was provided by Mazda Australia. To find out more about the 2015 Mazda2, contact your local Mazda dealer.