Mazda2: Compact car, limited range

  • First few trips in the Mazda reveal a limited range
  • Covered 280 miles before a refuel was needed
  • Average economy of 40mpg will hopefully improve

When you’re looking at buying a new car there are lots of things to consider.

There are the obvious factors like the price, its suitability for your use and its economy. There are also other important issues, such as running costs.

As I travel 110 miles a day, one of my main considerations is range. That's how far the car will go on a full tank of fuel. It might not seem a key statistic, but I don’t want to be forced into stopping for fuel all the time. Petrol stations aren’t particularly enjoyable places to stand around in, especially when you just want to get home.

Mazda states that the Mazda2 has a 42.8-litre tank. That’s 9.4 gallons of fuel. If I achieved the claimed 67mpg average, I could travel over 600 miles on single tank. I was conscious that this wasn’t likely to be the case, but even so it didn’t seem unreasonable that I might cover around 500 miles before I needed to stop. That would be just enough to see me through a working week.

So, when I jumped into the car for the first time, I immediately noticed that its ‘remaining range’ indicator was showing just over 400 miles. That was less than I had hoped, especially given that the Mazda was full of fuel, but I assumed that it was a worst-case scenario and that some gentle driving might make that fuel last longer.

I assumed wrong. 280 miles later, the Mazda’s fuel gauge sank to its last illuminated sector. That wasn’t quite what I had in mind. It had taken less than three days to go from a full tank to needing a refill. At this rate, besides having to stop for fuel at least twice a week, longer trips would probably necessitate at least one refuelling session.

It’s not that the Mazda has a small fuel tank, as it's on a par with its competitors. The Ford Fiesta and SEAT Ibiza have a slightly larger 45-litre tank, the Vauxhall Corsa a smaller 40-litre tank. At the moment it purely seems to be that the Mazda isn’t being as economical as it should be.

More alarmingly, covering just 280 miles meant that the Mazda had averaged a fraction over 40mpg. That’s substantially less than the claimed 67mpg. It’s even more galling when you consider that the more powerful 2.0-litre diesel Audi A3 I was driving a few weeks back returned 50mpg without even trying.

The Mazda's unimpressive economy is hopefully down to a multitude of reasons. The car’s still relatively new, so its fuel consumption may improve marginally once it’s covered a few more miles. I’ve also been doing many short trips, as well as fast motorway commuting, which hurts the economy further.

Potentially, there’s the chance that the Mazda’s 1.6-litre diesel may just not be particularly frugal when it’s sat at motorway speeds for long durations. I’m not going to jump to any conclusions though, so I will keep a close eye on its economy over the next few months. I may attempt a few eco-trips as well, to see what the compact hatch is really capable of in terms of economy.

Now, by no means is any of the above a reason to disregard the Mazda, but it highlights how that it's important to consider range and real-life economy if you're looking at a smaller car. It's particularly relevant if you're going to use it for motorway driving as, besides having to continually watch the fuel gauge, going for something with a larger engine may actually prove more economical.

On the plus side, I suspect that the Mazda may be keeping quite a lot of fuel in reserve. From near-empty I’ve only managed to squeeze in around 34 litres, meaning that there’s still around nine litres – almost two gallons – left in the tank.

That means that even if you should bottom the gauge out, you will most likely be able to make it to a filling station.

Don't take my word for it though. Your mileage may vary.

Current mileage: 2,107 miles

Average mpg: 40.12mpg