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What is the Mazda 2

The Mazda 2 is the smallest car from the Japanese car brand that likes to infuse everything it sells with the spirit of its MX-5 roadster.

While the choice in the supermini sector is vast, the 2 errs away from the everyday straightforwardness of rivals like the Toyota Yaris, Volkswagen Polo, Skoda Fabia and Vauxhall Corsa. See it instead as more of a driver-focused supermini, in the same way the Ford Fiesta, Seat Ibiza and Peugeot 208 offer a bit more verve to spice up the school run.

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 sector. 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 Mazda 2 derivative, 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 Mazda 2 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 little Mazda 2’s lines are now familiar, and don’t have the sophisticated surfacing of newer models such as the Mazda CX-5 SUV and Mazda 3 family car. 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 drives with vim and verve. 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 Mazda 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 Mazda2 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 with our user-generated owners’ reviews.

Mazda 2 Model History

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 the odd 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.