Souped-up Mazda2 supermini sports fresh charm
Mazda has turned up the heat on its popular supermini by revising the Mazda2 and introducing a range-topping GT Sport model. Motoring editor Andy Russell finds out if it lives up to the brand's sporty reputation.
For a marque that has made the world’s best-selling two-seater sports car for nearly three decades, it’s taken a long time to inject some of that vitality into its popular supermini.
For the decade it has been on sale in the UK, the hottest version had been the lukewarm Sport – fun to drive but ultimately flat compared to more rewarding rivals.
Now Mazda has turned up the heat with a new range-topping GT Sport Nav+ version and given the range a makeover.
Looks and image
More tasteful than tarty, Mazda has been pretty restrained in the styling department so even the GT Sport with the body ‘bling’ limited to smart 16in silver alloy wheels, a brilliant black rear roof spoiler and chrome exhaust trim and, for many, that just adds to its appeal.
Under the bonnet
Many rivals use small-capacity turbo engines but the GT Sport sticks with the naturally-aspirated 1.5-litre petrol unit. It boasts comparable power at 115PS – there’s also a 90PS version - but lacks the low-down punch of the tiny turbo units.
In traffic, it trickles along at low speeds in high gears but, on the open road, use the snappy six-speed manual gearbox to get the engine spinning – it revs happily without a hint of strain – and, in this lightweight supermini, feels very peppy for swift, safe overtaking. Despite pulling around 3,000rpm at 70mph, the engine isn’t intrusive and averaged 45 to 50mpg in mixed driving.
How it drives
Mazda doesn’t do cars that are dull to drive and its supermini is no exception, one of the more entertaining small cars.
The low-speed ride can be a little too firm to cope with roadwork-scarred surfaces and potholes, feeling restless, but improves once cruising, absorbing bumps and lumps but tyre noise is more noticeable.
It’s no sports car but you can have a lot of fun through twists and turns in the GT Sport with well-weighted, responsive steering and a flat stance through corners.
Space and comfort
The Mazda2 has been around a while and, by modern standards, it’s not among the most spacious superminis, some now nearly as big as cars in the class above. That said, you could comfortably fit a couple of adults in the back, provided those up front don’t hog all the legroom, but tall passengers will find rear headroom at a premium and the back doors are quite narrow at the bottom.
The same goes for the 280-litre boot – it’s well-shaped, so all useable space, and is deep but that creates a high load sill. Rear seat backs split 60/40 and fold flat but step up from the boot floor.
There’s a lot of hard plastic on show which I could live with but wasn’t so keen on the soft-touch brown panel across the fascia against the black trim picked up by brown inserts in the black leather seats.
A large glovebox is handy, just as well with tiny front doorbins and none in the back.
At the wheel
Being a sporty model, the simple instrument cluster is dominated by a large rev counter with an inset numerical speedometer with an infotainment screen on top of the dashboard – it’s easy to use and works well. Full marks for the standard head-up display projecting key information on to the windscreen.
Three big rotary knobs, with inset push buttons, take care of heating and ventilation – not flash but very functional.
For a little car, the Mazda2 offers big-car kit as standard including climate control, colour head-up display, sat-nav, DAB radio, cruise control with speed limiter, keyless entry and starter button, LED headlights, front fog lamps and daytime running lights, heated front seats and reversing camera.
A makeover and sporty new models have given the Mazda2 fresh appeal – entertaining to drive, tastefully styled and loaded with creature comforts.
SPEC AND TECH
Price: Mazda2 GT Sport Nav+, £17,095 (range from £13,295)
Engine: 1,496cc, 115PS, four-cylinder petrol with six-speed manual gearbox
Performance: 0-62mph 9.0 seconds; top speed 124mph
MPG: Urban 39.2; extra urban 60.1; combined 50.4
CO2 emissions: 127g/km
Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 26pc
Insurance group: (out of 50) 20E
Warranty: Three years or 60,000 miles
Will it fit in the garage? L 4,060mm; W (excluding door mirrors) 1,695mm; H 1,495mm