Mazda 2 Review logo

Mazda 2 Review

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1/10

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1 / 10

heycar review

      Launch year
      2015
      Body type
      Small hatch
      Fuel type
      Petrol, Diesel
heycar editorial team

Written by

heycar editorial team

00/10
heycar rating
“Sporty, smart but flawed hatch”

Best bits

  • Decent fuel economy
  • Smart interior with bags of kit
  • Brilliant fun to drive 

Not so great

  • Weedy petrol engines
  • Cramped rear seats
  • Firm ride in town

Read by

Mazda 2 front

Overall verdict

Mazda 2 interior

On the inside

Mazda2 left exterior

Driving

Mazda 2 gearstick

How much does it cost to run

Mazda 2 boot

Prices, versions and specification

Overall verdict

"In the incredibly competitive world of small cars, manufacturers are under constant pressure to deliver value for money and sell as many vehicles as possible to maximise profit margins. The Mazda 2 does things a bit differently, hoping to attract buyers with its sharp design, keen handling, and premium levels of equipment."

Mazda 2 front

Many of its rivals are better known (and bigger in all directions), but the comparative rarity shouldn’t put you off this fun five-door hatch, which is frugal, should prove reliable, and decent value in the correct trim level. If you avoid the pricier versions and head straight for the SE-L Nav, you're getting a car packed with features.


It has a thoroughly modern media system that's more intuitive and less distracting than most touchscreen setups, with sat-nav, LED headlights, smartphone connectivity and a lot of active safety gear all standard. Build quality is impressive too, with newer models getting upgraded material trims and comfier front seats.


However, it comes unstuck in the practicality stakes. There is no escaping its compact dimensions, and most superminis can carry more shopping, luggage and people than you'll be able to squeeze in the dinky Mazda. The boot is well below average for the class, with limited functionality, and the cabin has fewer cubbies too.


It claws things back a little out on the road. The consistently weighted controls, snickety mechanical shift of the six-speed manual gearbox and accurate steering mean it's a good car for weaving through town traffic. The Mazda grips nicely in corners, and keeps a tight leash on its compact body, so it doesn't lean or bounce.


However, the tidy handling does mean compromises to comfort. There is a firm edge to the ride at low speed that never really goes away, and you'll feel small imperfections filtering from the road's surface into the cabin. Cars on larger wheels will jostle you around even more, and combined with so-so refinement, it can be tiring.


Although it was previously available with diesel power, the current 2 comes with a mild-hybrid 1.5-litre petrol engine in two different power outputs. Entry-level cars get a modest 75PS, but the rest of the range benefits from a 90PS version, that feels considerably quicker in all driving conditions, and gets the option of an auto.


Unusually, none of the Mazda 2’s engines feature turbocharging. This means it needs to be constantly kept on the boil to make meaningful progress, something that's made harder by the tall higher gears. It's smooth in town, but quite flat and gutless at low revs, and grows coarse once the performance does finally pick up.


This odd character makes the 2 tricky to recommend. It doesn't feel nearly as premium or grown-up as its big brother the Mazda 3 inside. Most buyers will prefer the brisk performance and flexibility you get from a turbo engine to this car's strangely gutless 1.5-litre motor, and despite its decent fuel economy, we'd tend to agree.


Is the Mazda 2 right for you?

The Mazda is on the smaller end of the scale in this class. That means it's great for parking and negotiating the cut-and-thrust of inner-city traffic, but makes it a less practical choice than roomier models from its rivals.


It'll suit younger drivers or retirees who rarely need to carry more than two people, but the latter group might not appreciate its firm ride, nor this engine's constant need for revs to make steady progress on faster roads.


Its nicely designed cabin and classy materials do make it feel plush, and on most models it's very generously equipped too, but can't quite compete with premium rivals in terms of feel-good factor and perceived quality.


The counterpoint to its upmarket aspirations are higher prices and insurance costs, but it should prove light on fuel thanks to its mild-hybrid system. Still, budget-conscious buyers should probably give this one a miss.


What's the best Mazda 2 model/engine to choose?

Picking the best Mazda 2 is straightforward since the engine range is now so narrow. The 75PS model is too slow and inflexible to recommend, so we'd choose the 90PS car, paired with the excellent six-speed manual.


You'll still need to wind this engine up to coax it up hills or keep up with motorway traffic, but it has identical economy figures to the lesser version thanks to its mild-hybrid technology and will deal with long trips better.


Although top-spec models come with big car features like leather seats, and keyless entry, they don’t offer the best value, and the larger wheels exacerbate the Mazda's jiggly ride. Pick the SE-L Nav trim for the right balance of equipment and affordability, and it comes with our favourite engine, but still won't break the bank.


Used buyers should track down the nippier 115PS petrol car, as it leans into the 2's sporty driving character.


What other cars are similar to the Mazda 2?

The smallest car in Mazda's line-up competes with some of the most popular models in the UK. The likes of the Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa and Volkswagen Polo dominate sales charts, and all are newer than the 2.


As the best handling car in the class, it's hard to ignore the Ford. Like the Mazda it features new mild-hybrid engines, yet is more efficient than the Mazda and a lot faster in the real world. The Polo is the comfier option, with excellent refinement, and a superbly built interior, even if Volkswagen is a little stingy with its equipment.


For a little less you could pick up practical options like the Skoda Fabia (the only small car which also comes as a roomier estate) or Hyundai i20, while premium buyers can spend a bit more on an Audi A1 or MINI hatch.


That's before we even mention its pure-electric rivals like the Peugeot 208, Renault Zoe and new Honda e.


Learn more

Mazda 2 interior

On the inside

Mazda2 left exterior

Driving

Mazda 2 gearstick

How much does it cost to run

Mazda 2 boot

Prices, versions and specification