Mazda for the city

Mazda has recently been producing cars that impress with design, innovative technology, drivability and, last but not least, excellent fuel economy. For the test we got the smallest representative of this brand – the deuce. I was curious to see if the twin would confirm the positive qualities we had already tested in its larger siblings.

Bell

It’s a typical representative of the small car segment, and it doesn’t even try to hide it. In profile, the wheels pulled up to the corners of the body and the long front bonnet typical of the brand’s models catch the eye. The black 16-inch wheels (with 185/60 R16 tyres) are particularly well suited to the car and blend in perfectly with the grey metallic paintwork. I was a bit taken aback by the use of drum brakes on the rear wheels. I will see that this does not negatively affect their efficiency.

The front is dominated by a large, chrome-framed grille and oversized headlights. I think the car could do with some narrower ones, along the lines of the larger models. From the rear it suits the car best and I like the large rear lights. I praise the admitted exhaust, but I would have liked to have seen a nicer tailpipe.

Inside

The interior workmanship is tasteful and of good quality for the class. While we don’t find soft plastics here, there’s nothing to fault the assembly and moulding of the individual plastic parts. The steering wheel is familiar to me from other models of the brand and fits well into the interior of the deuce. The dashboard’s strength is its clarity. The large analogue speedometer is followed by a digital rev counter and on-board computer display. On the dashboard, the circular ventilation vents and the decorative trim strip imitating carbon. The 7″ tablet-shaped infotainment display juts out into the space in the latest fashion.

I like the simplicity of the automatic climate control without a digital output, but the automatic mode has to be set with up to two rotary dials. The simple centre tunnel is wisely used with space for a short control lever with a nice head unit, a manual handbrake lever and a couple of compartments.

I was pleased with both the shape and the workmanship of the inside of the doors, which don’t lack a section of fabric upholstery. The use of piano lacquer doesn’t matter in this case as it doesn’t come into contact with the driver’s hands.

The textile seats are already quite small at first glance, and their backs taper even further in height. I was therefore concerned about seating comfort, especially on longer journeys.

Behind the Wheel

My fears were overblown, however. The narrow seats were something to get used to. Thankfully, the side rails on top of the backrest are no longer pronounced and therefore don’t press into the back. I appreciated the shape of the backrest despite the lack of an adjustable lumbar support. However, the short seat cushions and the lack of height adjustment of the head restraints clearly indicate that the car is, after all, designed for shorter drivers.

The seat behind the wheel, on the other hand, was surprisingly close to perfect, even at my height of 185cm. It sits low with legs stretched forward to the correctly spaced pedals. It’s a pity that they forgot to ‘plump up’ the left footrest. The seat is supported by a wide range of steering wheel adjustment. I had to get used to the inner width at the shoulder area, which is, however, determined by the dimensions of the car. In addition, the front seats are close together and the lack of an armrest makes you and your passenger “very close.”The legroom and headroom met my expectations, as did the outward view and large rear-view mirrors. I appreciated the ergonomically positioned buttons and especially the ability to control the infotainment system via the center tunnel’s grouped controls in addition to touch (when the car is stopped).

The positioning of the gearshift lever suited me fine. It is short, has a precise shift pattern and smooth operation.

On the Road

The driving characteristics of the brand’s vehicles are a very important parameter for the manufacturer and their sporty character is featured prominently in marketing materials. Were the same demands applied in the development of the little two?

The chassis is stiffer, but still comfortable enough even on worse roads. It handles bigger bumps less well and makes the crew feel them. You can feel the light, slightly more nervous rear end in corners at higher speeds, yet the car holds its line stubbornly on bumpy roads. It was pronouncedly difficult to get the little Mazda into a situation where the stabilisation system had to intervene.

I was very pleased with the steering, which was direct, properly stiff and you could feel its connection to the front axle. The car responded quickly to even the slightest movement of the steering wheel. The brakes, despite the “drums” at the rear, didn’t have much to do with a light car (975 kg) and their effect could be dosed reliably. I appreciated the short and absolutely precise shifter travel of the 5-speed manual gearbox. It didn’t protest even when shifting quickly at high revs. The clutch engages accurately in the middle and has a light action.

For dynamic driving, the engine needs to be revved above 3500 rpm. The gears are quite long, so it’s advisable to wait and upshift above this threshold, when the engine responds instantly to every press of the accelerator pedal. Given the atmospheric filling and engine size, one cannot expect breathtaking dynamics, but the engine power is sufficient for a brisk ride in the presence of a quite pleasant soundscape.

It is a four-cylinder unit with a displacement of 1496 cm3 , a maximum power of 66 kW at 6000 rpm and 148 Nm of torque at 4000 rpm. As is usual with Skyactiv engines, the revs stay high for a while after starting up. Once they drop, the engine is quiet and vibration-free. The engine doesn’t protest when driving even when the revs drop to 1500, but to maintain momentum it is necessary to keep them above 2000. Considering the class and focus of the car, I was satisfied with the engine performance. With the transmission working properly, I didn’t feel like I was “holding back” traffic in the city or on county roads. I missed the higher power output perhaps only on the highway, where the car’s willingness to accelerate was fading at higher speeds.

The highway, however, is not likely to be a place where the Mazda 2 is regularly encountered. Up to 120mph, the car is relatively quiet. Above that, aerodynamic noise already permeates the interior, as does engine noise. Consumption is dependent on wind direction and the long term rising or falling nature of the road. At speeds of 130-140 km/h, it was in the range of 6.6-7.5 l/100 km. In the table below I show the engine speed in fifth gear at each speed:

Speed in km/hRPM
1002100
1102400
1202600
1302800
1403000

On the district roads, the full potential of the engine could be exploited in conjunction with the excellent chassis. I gently apply the brakes before a corner, put the car in second gear and add up to 100 km/h as I gently lean away from the centre of the corner. I shift into third and brake before the next corner… the chassis is legible enough to keep the driver within his limits and still playful enough to have fun with the car. When driving at night, I appreciated the excellent performance of the high beams; on the other hand, I didn’t find the intensity of the low beams quite sufficient.Thanks to the engine’s atmospheric filling, fuel consumption remains low even when driving more aggressively, where I didn’t exceed 6 litres on average. In quiet but still brisk driving, it hovers around five. Driving “on consumption” I even got close to four litres.

In the city, in average traffic, I drove with a consumption of 6.5 litres. Thanks to the car’s dimensions, there’s no problem with driving in narrow streets, but the 10.4 metre turning diameter is a little larger than I would expect from a small car. The excellent visibility from the car, the large rear-view mirrors and the rear camera all contribute to comfortable parking.

I handed over the car with an average consumption of 5.7 litres. I drove briskly and used the engine to its full potential. I believe I would have easily achieved the claimed consumption of 4.9 l/100 km with more leisurely driving.

Practical side, price

With a car in this segment, you can’t expect bulky storage compartments or a large number of them. However, I stowed the half-litre bottle in the door and slipped my mobile into the compartment at the end of the centre tunnel. It was also no problem to stow larger purchases in the 250-litre boot. However, I would have liked at least simple hooks for hanging shopping bags. Folding down the rear seats does create an awkward step, but it does increase the volume to a respectable 882 litres.

With my height of 185 cm, I obviously didn’t sit “behind” comfortably, but the child in the child seat had no problem with space.

The price of the tested twin in Takumi trim is 13 190 EUR (+ 500 EUR for navigation and 560 EUR for metallic paint). I consider this amount reasonable compared to the competition. In a richly equipped car, the only thing I missed were the LED headlights.

Verdict

The Mazda 2 doesn’t stand out in the crowded small-car segment on design alone. What sets it apart from its competitors is its focus on the driver and its emphasis on the driving experience. It will delight those who appreciate a sporty driving position, a torquey engine and above-average driveability in this class. However, it will also satisfy those who don’t like to pay unnecessarily much at the petrol station with its fuel consumption.

In my opinion, the twin bravely does its job and its bigger siblings have nothing to be ashamed of.