Mazda has always been good at making cars that are a bit special and more fun to drive than you expect, as well as being very reliable. And the new five-door Mazda 2 supermini is no exception.
It£€™s available with a 1.5 litre petrol engine with 74, 89 or 114bhp, or a 1.5 litre diesel engine with 104bhp. The two lower powered petrol engines are fine for short journeys but for motorway trips you need more power.
Prices start at £11,995 for the petrol models or £15,995 for the diesel which is actually smoother and quieter than the petrol motor and is the version we have been testing. The 16-valve turbocharged engine produces maximum push (torque) between 1,400 and 3,200rpm.
It works best between 2,000rpm and 4,000rpm but will rev to 5,200rpm which is high for a diesel and feels almost petrol-like. Performance is strong in third and fourth gears but to help economy fifth and sixth are taller ratios.
The Sport Nav test model at a pricey £17,395 comes with keyless entry and a push button starter so you can keep your keys in your pocket. It even locks itself when you walk away. It£€™s difficult to make a small car look distinctive but Mazda has done a good job.
The cabin feels real quality and the stitched leather and mock carbon fibre trim classy and close to matching an Audi A1. The car was so new there was a slippery feel to the steering wheel which almost had me reaching for driving gloves!
Quick steering, a sports car-like gear change and a short throw clutch help make the car fun to drive. The Mazda 2 feels very well planted on the road even if you are cornering briskly.
Average fuel consumption was 55.4mpg but the car had only covered 1,000 miles and diesels take longer to give their best. An expert on an economy event beat 100mpg but I dread to think how slowly he was going.
The automatic engine stop-start worked perfectly in stop-go traffic. I wish the same could have been said in Birmingham for belching diesel buses though their stickers proclaimed them green hybrids.
The sporty steering wheel has switches for the cruise control and radio. The front seats proved very comfortable on a 270 mile round trip. The ride is firm but the 2 is a good motorway car with low wind and road noise.
A rotary control between the seats, which you can work by touch without taking your eyes off the road, makes it safe to set the satellite navigation or find stored music or radio stations. A large glove box helps keep the cabin tidy.
There£€™s a proper handbrake which is better than the fault prone electronic ones which cost a fortune to fix. Mazda has increased the distance between the front and rear wheels to make the 2 a five-seater.
There£€™s more space in the back than in a Ford Fiesta but the boot, though larger, is smaller than the Ford£€™s. With seats up there£€™s 280 litres volume, increasing to 960 litres folded but there is no spare wheel in there, just a can of spray and hope foam. The seat split 60:40.
Equipment includes a seven-inch touch screen with smart phone connectivity so you can access social media and internet radio. Safety kit includes automatic low speed braking and lane departure warning.
We really liked the 2 but the problem as usual with supermini diesels is to justify the extra cost unless you do huge mileages to benefit from the superior economy to petrol.
Verdict Great small car but pricey, especially as a diesel