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Mazda 2 Sport Black, rear

What is the Mazda 2

The supermini segment still holds the most market share in the UK, and the Mazda 2 is the Japanese brand’s attempt at getting a slice of this lucrative business.

There are lots of superminis to choose from, but the Mazda 2’s biggest competition comes from the UK’s bestsellers: the Ford Fiesta, the Vauxhall Corsa and the Volkswagen Polo. But competition is fierce from elsewhere, including the SEAT Ibiza, Peugeot 208, Toyota Yaris, Nissan Micra and Hyundai i20.

The Mazda 2 is elevated above its rivals by focusing on the driving experience. Except for the Ford Fiesta, you’re unlikely to find another supermini that’s this much fun to drive – Mazda’s usual trick of distilling the spirit of its MX-5 roadster into ordinary cars has worked wonders.

At-a-glance 2019 Mazda 2 specs

  • Top-speed: 106-124mph
  • 0-62mph: 9.0-12.0 seconds
  • Fuel economy: 50-62mpg
  • Emissions: 105-127g/km CO2
  • Boot space: 280 litres

Which versions of the Mazda 2 are available?

Mazda only offers the 2 as a five-door hatchback, joining the growing number of brands abandoning the three-door supermini. It doesn’t offer a diesel engine either – they’re becoming ever-rarer in this sector – and its petrol range comprises a single 1.5-litre in three different power outputs: 75hp, 90hp and 115hp.

Gradual updates to the standard trim lines mean the range of variants is a bit of a jumble: pick from SE+, SE-L+, SE-L Nav+, Sport Nav+, GT Sport Nav+ and Black+ Edition. A handful of variants are available with an automatic transmission alongside the standard manual.

Is there a high-performance Mazda 2?

Mazda doesn’t sell a true performance model of the 2, but it does reserve the most powerful 115hp version of the 1.5-litre Skyactiv-G engine for the raciest-looking GT Sport Nav+ model. This is marked out by smart-looking alloy wheels, extended body colour trim, a rear roof spoiler (also fitted to the Black+ special edition) and, inside, black and brown leather upholstery.

Mazda 2 rear, white

It is also the only model in the range to get a six-speed manual gearbox. Since a facelift in 2017, all 2s share the same suspension, and also come as standard with G-Vectoring Control, which improves front-end turn-in and cornering response.

Mazda 2 styling and engineering

The car's lines are familiar, and don’t have the sophistication of Mazda's newer cars such as the CX-5 SUV and 3 family hatchback. It’s still a neat-looking thing, though, enhanced further as you move up the model range with modern colours and trim details.

The LED running lights introduced for the 2017 facelift are eye-catching, and we love how the steering wheel is now basically the same as the one in the MX-5 sports car. It’s starting to look a little plain inside, however – the freshest here is the GT Sport Nav+, thanks to its premium-look trim. Space is only average too, and the dark rear glass fitted to most models makes it feel a bit claustrophobic in the back. A 280-litre boot is also only so-so.

Typically for Mazda, there’s a lot of sophisticated engineering beneath the surface, including the Skyactiv-G engine (also used in the Mazda MX-5) and G-Vectoring Control system.

How does the Mazda 2 drive?

The Mazda 2 is fun to drive. Having 1.5-litre engines that are slightly bigger than the supermini norm helps here, although maybe not for the reason you think. They don’t serve up an immediate big-engine rush of power – but if you rev them, as they encourage you to, a decent turn of pace is released (along with a bit of noise near the redline). It’s an experience that contrasts with the refined, easy pulling power of, say, a Ford Fiesta EcoBoost, but it complements the 2’s tidy chassis.

Living with a Mazda 2

Snappy five-speed and six-speed gearboxes give a bit of MX-5-like engagement and it’s fairly good fun, without compromising the in-town ride quality. Unless you really need it, though, try to avoid the automatic gearbox. It’s nowhere near as engaging as the manual cars, and both performance and economy suffer.

How much does the Mazda 2 cost?

The range opens with SE+ trim at £13,595. It’s equipped to a decent level, with air con, front and rear electric windows, alloy wheels, power-fold door mirrors and engine stop-start all standard. You can spend more than £17,000 on the top-spec GT Sport Nav+ which, as the name suggests, comes with sat nav as standard. Our choice would be to go for mid-range SE-L Nav+ with the 90hp engine, priced from just over £15,000 – or, better still, the Black+ Edition which costs just £500 more.

Find out what it’s like to live with a Mazda 2 by reading owners’ reviews.

Mazda 2 Model History

Current generation Mazda 2

January 2015 – New Mazda 2 launched in SE, SE-L, SE-L Nav, Sport and Sport Nav trims, with a choice of 75, 90 or 115hp 1.5-litre petrol engines and a 105hp 1.5-litre diesel. The 90hp engine also comes with a choice of automatic gearbox, while all others are manual as standard. It also launches with a Sports Launch Edition trim.
August 2015 – Sport Black special edition launched, powered by 90hp 1.5 engine. Available in red or white exterior colours, it adds black front and side skirts, black spoiler and chrome exhaust trim. It also gets some extra kit over SE-L Nav on which it’s based.
July 2016 – Mazda 2 Red Edition added to the range, based on 90hp SE-L Nav and limited to 400 orders. Comes in white or black exterior paint with red trim to the spoiler and rear bumper trim, while inside the seats are red with matching door inserts.
April 2017 – GT and GT Sport models added to the Mazda 2 range, sitting at the top of the line-up. GT Sport comes exclusively with the 115hp engine. Tweaks have been made elsewhere to improve driving and refinement, while the diesel is no longer available.
March 2018 – Mazda 2 Sport Black model added to the range, limited to 500 models, while the rest of the range is updated – made up of SE+, SE-L+, SE-L Nav+, Sport Nav+ and GT Sport Nav+ trims. Tweaks made to standard kit levels of particular trims, new colours added, while the ‘+’ denotes they are homologated under new WLTP regulations.
September 2018 – Mazda 2 Black+ Edition added to the range, limited to 500 models. Based on the 90hp SE-L Nav+ trim, it adds black alloys, privacy glass, a shark fin antenna and black roof spoiler with a choice of grey, blue or crimson exterior paint. 

Second-generation Mazda 2 (2007-2014)

Mazda 2 MkII (2007-2014)

The Mk2 Mazda 2 was launched in 2007 and was an immediately more appealing proposition than its predecessor. The styling was more conventional supermini fare and, when painted in some punchy colour choices, it could even turn a head or two.

It was derived from the acclaimed 2008 model-year Ford Fiesta, and drove with similar talent. A range of Mazda petrol engines was offered alongside Ford turbodiesels, and a four-speed automatic was available on a few of them (most were sold as manuals). By now, the Mazda 2 was a truly global car, sold in major markets including China and the United States.

First-generation Mazda 2 (2002-2007) 

Mazda 2 MkI (2002-2007)

The first Mazda 2 replaced the oddball 121, a rebranded UK-built Ford Fiesta that was far from successful, and the Demio mini MPV. The 2 was again derived from a Ford product, the early-2000s Fiesta and Fusion, but this time it was more than a simple rebadging exercise.

It had a quirky quasi-MPV look, but this did boost interior space and practicality, and it performed reasonably well in 2003 Euro NCAP crash tests.