The Mazda2 in red.

Vospers New Car Review: Mazda2



The Mazda2 is a strong option if you’re looking for a quality supermini. It helps that it has been usefully improved in recent times. The focus of this review is the e-SKYACTIV-G mild hybrid range that is based on a third generation ‘DJ/DL’-series design. This model packs in some big car features into a pertly-styled body and features great real-world economy.


The Mazda2 is still going places. The first Mazda2 sold 410,000 units between 2003 and 2007. The second generation model had a seven year run at the market, but had already eclipsed its predecessor’s total midway through 2010. Both cars owed a lot to Ford’s strategic partnership with Mazda. This effectively made them rebodied Fiestas which isn’t a bad thing.

For the third generation version, this current car, launched in 2015, Mazda went it alone. This MK3 model ‘2 rides on its own SKYACTIV chassis technology which was updated at the end of the decade with the mild hybrid e-SKYACTIV-G technology that features in the car today. The brand doesn’t have a full-Hybrid engine in its portfolio, so has borrowed one from rivals Toyota.

The Mazda2 Driving Experience

All manual versions of the Mazda2 feature Mazda’s M Hybrid mild-hybrid system and now wear the e-Skyactiv G badge. As before, buyers choose from three versions of the 1.5-litre SKYACTIV-G petrol unit with 75, 90 or 115PS on tap. Power is transferred to the front wheels and with the two higher output models, there’s a choice between six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic.

Here, we’re going to look at the mild hybrid variants, which in recent times have benefitted from a range of dynamic updates. The changesinclude use of a urethane top mount in the rear dampers and revisions to the power steering. In addition, there’s G-Vectoring Control Plus (GVC Plus) – the evolved version of Mazda’s GVC system. The new system uses the brakes to apply direct yaw movement control in addition to engine control. Basically, it helps you get grip down through the bends.

As before, the suspension has been set up to be Volkswagen-firm which you’ll feel on poor surfaces. The flipside of this is that the Mazda2 offers reassuring body control in corners. The steering is an electrically-assisted system, so don’t expect bucketloads of feedback, but you can count on clean response and perfect accuracy. The front and rear damper settings have been revised to enhance ride quality. The front anti-roll bar bushing has changed and the structure of the front lower suspension arm has been modified to improve body control. Additionally, a small recalibration of the electric power steering is supposed to result in improved steering feel. The Mazda2 is more than just a city scoot. It’s got a welcome element of long distance versatility too.

The Mazda2 Design and Build

This is the first time this third generation Mazda2 has had any significant visual changes! There is a re-styled grille that sees the signature Mazda wing surround pass beneath rather than below the number plate. This leaves space to accentuate the lower bumper trim. The signature wing grille surround cuts into the leading edge of the headlight rather than passing underneath. Asymmetrically placed colour accent tabs also feature on the front grille and rear bumper across all models.

The ‘Centre-Line’ and ‘Exclusive-Line’ variants have a front-end design featuring a large coloured panel across the lower section of a grille that has a small yellow accent tab. This is repeated at the back alongised the revised rear bumper which now features a full width black lower moulding. ‘Centre-Line’ cars feature 15-inch silver alloy wheels as standard. The’Exclusive-Line’ versions step up to 16-inch bright alloy wheels.

Further up the range, the ‘Homura’ version has a black honeycomb grille and red accent tab. This is matched to gloss black door mirrors, 16-inch black alloy wheels and a black shark fin roof antenna. At the back, the red accent sits on the lower right hand side of the black bumper trim strip. The ‘Homura Aka’ model has the same black honeycomb grille with red accent and black mirrors. The ‘Homura Aka’ also features 16-inch black and silver metallic machined alloy wheels and a gloss black roof.

In ‘Centre-Line’ and ‘Exclusive-Line’ cars, there’s a new decorative dash panel. In the ‘Homura’ model’s cabin there are black cloth seats with red accents, combined with a black gloss dash panel and red air vent surrounds. The ‘Homura Aka’ variant features black half leather seats, red accents and a soft touch black dash panel with red stitching. It also features a heated leather steering wheel with red stitching. 

The Mazda2 Market and Model

There are two kinds of Mazda2 you can choose these days: the conventional version, which features the brand’s ‘e-SKYACTIV G’ mild hybrid petrol powerplant. And a full-Hybrid model, which is essentially just a re-badged Toyota Yaris but costs a fair bit more. It’s the conventional mild hybrid variants which are our focus here. Now priced from just under £18,000, the Mazda2 e-SKYACTIV-G range features a single five-door bodystyle and four revised trim levels.

‘Centre-Line’ and ‘Exclusive-Line’ focus on a fun and casual nature, while the ‘Homura’ and ‘Homura Aka’ variants have been designed to give the Mazda2 a sportier look and character. All models feature cruise control, integrated Bluetooth and climate control. And even with base trim, you get rear parking sensors, 15-inch alloy wheels and LED headlights, plus ‘Mazda Connect’ navigation with a seven-inch colour touch-screen, plus ‘Apple CarPlay’ and ‘Android Auto’ smartphone-mirroring. In addition, the safety equipment tally runs to Front Smart City Brake Support, Lane Departure Warning and Lane-keep Assist.

Be careful with your choice of exterior colour. With the aim of giving customers more colour combination choices, on ‘Soul Red Crystal’, ‘Snowflake White’, ‘Platinum Quartz’, ‘Polymetal Grey’ and (new) ‘Air Stream Blue’-painted cars, the grille panel is body coloured, while on ‘Machine Grey’, ‘Deep Crystal Blue’, ‘Ceramic Metallic’ and the new ‘Aero Grey’ colour, the grille panel is in ‘Jet Black’ to give a smart contrasting look. ‘Jet Black’ cars also have a ‘Jet Black’ grille panel.

The Cost of Owning a Mazda2

Across all mild hybrid Mazda2 models, the 1.5-litre petrol engine has been refined in recent times to offer considerable efficiency improvements. The compression ratio has increased from 13.1 to 15.1, with the exhaust upgraded from a 4-1 to a 4-2-1 manifold. As a result CO2 emissions have dropped by 11 to 14g/km depending on output and transmission. An example being the popular 90PS-spec ‘Homura’ manual model has dropped from 120g/km to 107g/km, while across the range the corresponding improvements in economy further enhance the Mazda2’s excellent cost of ownership credentials. As for fuel consumption, well the base 75PS manual model manages up to 58.9mpg on the WLTP combined cycle; for the volume 90PS manual, it’s up to 60.1mpg – or up to 52.3mpg for the auto version. For the 115PS manual variant, it’s up to 56.5mpg.

All manual 90 and 115PS Mazda2 models benefit from mild-hybridisation thanks to the use of the Mazda M Hybrid powerplant. Utilising an antegrated start generator (B-ISG) and brake regeneration, this powerplant mobilises the B-ISG’s power generation to make the most of the energy stored in the capacitor to reduce load on the engine and enable quick restart to help lower emissions and improve fuel economy with extended auto engine stop time.

As for peace of mind, well given the reliability of Mazda products, you’d have thought the company might have wanted to improve upon its usual three year/60,000 mile package and take on the Korean brands. Not so. That familiar standard warranty remains in place for this car. Still, the cover provided does continue to include three years of European roadside assistance.


Good things often come in little packages. Here’s one of them. It’s a small car that’s been developed with an extraordinarily large amount of care and as a result, remains a class act. Arguably, few other rivals offer a better all-round blend of performance and efficiency, plus this improved third generation Mazda2 in mild hybrid form delivers extra efficiency, smart looks, reasonable pricing and an interestingly-styled cabin offering premium segment features and some lovely quality touches.

The bottom line is that if you thought all superminis were the same, it’s well worth trying one of these. Life, you might find, is full of surprises.

If you’re intersted in the Mazda2 get in touch.

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