- We say goodbye to our supermini
- Is it one of the best-in-class?
- Two Parkers road testers give their verdict
|1. Welcome||2. Finance costs||3. What's it like to drive?|
|4. Petrol vs diesel||5. vs Fiesta||6. Warning light|
|7. Niggles||8. Fuel economy||9. Farewell|
Bit of a special one, this. Not only is it the first report for our (I’ll explain the plural tense later) lovely new Mazda 2 long-termer, it’s also my first as a motoring journalist.
That means putting my beloved Seat Ibiza Cupra on ice and stepping into the leathery luxury of the Mazda. And as cars for young drivers go, I think we’ve done pretty well - 90hp and 0-62mph in 9.4 seconds is pleasingly rebellious and more than enough to get the insurance company sweating.
The 2 may not be as quick or powerful as my Cupra, but early impressions suggest it’s a whole lot more comfortable and perhaps just as fun. A more pertinent comparison would be to our long-term Ford Fiesta, though.
Mazda, like any other car maker wanting a piece of the supermini pie, has aimed the 2 squarely at the soon-to-be-replaced Fiesta – and with good reason. It’s a hoot to drive and still looks fresh eight years on, so it will be interesting to see how our Japanese contender fares.
We’re keen to see how the fairly large 1.5-litre engine gets along in terms of fuel economy and performance. Mazda has always done things a little differently when it comes to engines and we’re expecting the 2 to be no different.
In order to topple the Fiesta though, the Mazda must be an outstanding drive. A big ask, but one which we’re keen to give the 2 a fair crack at – so expect to see us hooning around the odd roundabout in the coming months.
Unusually for a Parkers long-term test, myself and fellow twenty-something-year-old staff writer Tom Goodlad are running this car together. No, we’re not carpooling every morning and we don’t live anywhere near each other, but we’re going to do our best to share the Mazda. This should give some contrasting viewpoints on the long-term progress of the 2, rather than just have one of us ramble on unchecked.
Over to Tom to explain just how much kit is fitted to this little car.
By James Dennison
Let’s get this out of the way – I’m a big Mazda fan. So I was pretty chuffed when I found out I’d be co-running our Mazda 2 Sport Nav for a few months. The Japanese brand’s latest Kodo design language is sharp and distinctive – it certainly stands out next to plenty of bland rivals that just fade into the background.
I previously owned a 2015 post-facelift Volkswagen Polo for about a year, so I’m intrigued to see how the little Mazda stacks up in comparison – the Polo won’t set your pulse racing, but it’s a very capable and high-quality supermini.
Style and substance
The Mazda’s off to a good start because it certainly has looks on its side – the 2 has a sharp front end with distinctive grille, sweeping lines and it looks brilliant in its £660 Soul Red paintwork. It’s just the rear end that could do with a little more flair in my opinion.
Our car’s also got the £700 Light Stone leather interior, which goes brilliantly with the exterior paintwork. And that’s a good job too, because our car costs £16,855 which I think is a lot to spend on a car of this size.
The 2 has come well-equipped in top-spec Sport Nav trim though, including:
- 16-inch alloy wheels
- Auto lights and wipers
- Keyless entry and start
- Rear parking sensors
- Climate control
- Cruise control
- Heated seats
- Electric windows
- DAB radio
- Bluetooth phone connectivity
- Lane-departure warning
- Autonomous emergency braking
- Electric folding mirrors
- Tyre pressure monitoring
So we’re not exactly wanting for equipment, but we’ll report back on whether or not you need to go for this top-spec model, and if the driving experience is as sharp as its styling promises.
By Tom Goodlad
Arrival mileage: 3,024 miles
Claimed MPG: 62.8mpg
The Mazda 2 is one of the more expensive superminis on sale, so that got us thinking – is it more attractive to buy on finance?
The majority of new-car buyers opt for some kind of finance agreement to fund their purcase, and Mazda’s taken note by putting together some appealing deals across its range.
Mazda 2 finance deals
We’ve whipped out Mazda’s finance calculator and our 2 1.5 Sport Nav comes in at £218.36 per month on a 36-month, 0% APR PCP deal. That’s with a £2,000 deposit from the customer and £750 deposit contribution from Mazda. The total amount you pay, including metallic paint works out at just over £15,405 if you buy the car at the end of the agreement – substantially less than the cash price of £16,155, as the deposit contribution effectively comes straight off how much you pay.
How does that stack up against some of its key rivals? We’ve come up with a few supermini competitors which have comparable performance and equipment specs and list prices to see if the Mazda 2 remains top of the tree, or if your money is better spent elsewhere.
Ford Fiesta finance deals
The Ford Fiesta – the UK’s best-selling car – works out ever so slightly more expensive than our Mazda in 1.0-litre 125 Ecoboost Titanium spec. With the same £2,000 deposit plus £900 deposit contribution from Ford, the Fiesta will cost £222.64 per month over three years.
Before any discounts, the cash price of this model is £16,495, but you’ll pay £1,000 less if you go for the car on finance.
1-0 to the Mazda for finance.
Peugeot 208 finance deals
The Peugeot 208 is just as stylish as the 2, and the 1.2-litre PureTech 110 Allure comes with a generous level of kit like our Mazda.
Things become a little less appealing when you crunch the numbers, though. With £2,000 down and another £1,040 from Peugeot, the 208 costs £237.18 per month over three years, while the total amount payable if you buy the car at the end of the contract is £15,992. That’s £427 more over three years than if you paid cash.
2-0 to the Mazda.
Volkswagen Polo finance deals
To get the popular Polo in a similar spec to our Mazda 2, you’ll need to dig deep and go for an SE L model powered by a 1.0-litre 110 TSI engine. With £2,000 deposit and a substantial £1,400 from VW, this Polo will set you back £245.61 a month.
The total amount payable over three years is a whopping £17,827.95 though, thanks in no small part to a high 6.7% APR rate. That’s £663 more than you’ll pay in cash outright, assuming you buy the car outright at the end of the PCP.
3-0 to the Mazda.
Skoda Fabia is the real finance hero
You might not think the Fabia and the Mazda are direct rivals. The Skoda’s likely to be thought of as the more sensible of the two, and while the Mazda’s sleek styling will appeal to the heart, the Fabia boasts some impressive numbers that will appeal to your inner accountant.
Opt for a high-spec Fabia in 1.2-litre 110 TSI SE L trim and you’ll pay just £180.85 a month with a £2,000 deposit and a further £500 deposit contribution from Skoda. What’s more, 0% APR and £500 of free fuel are sure to sweeten the deal.
That doesn’t mean Mazda’s finance deals aren’t competitive. Quite the opposite. It’s just that Skoda’s deals are so good that they’re hard to ignore.
If you do go for the Mazda though, it’s strong value whether you want to hand it back or buy it outright at the end of the PCP contract – and you’ll get a car that’s good to look at and fun to drive, but more on that next time.
Overall mileage: 4,196 miles
Fuel economy: 49.2mpg
By Tom Goodlad
We’ve been getting on rather nicely with our long-term Mazda 2 Sport Nav so far – its generous equipment list and 50+mpg being particular highlights.
This week however, our Japanese supermini faces its biggest test. Namely, how much fun is it to drive? Since the launch of the current-generation Ford Fiesta in 2008, every supermini has had to significantly up its game in the driving dynamics stakes. Sharp, agile and supple, the sixth-generation Fiesta has set the benchmark of how small cars should handle for the past eight years.
With a new Fiesta being unveiled in autumn 2016, Mazda will never have a better opportunity to sneak in and steal some of Ford’s market share in the pocket-rocket supermini department – so is the 2 up to the job?
To find out we’ve enlisted the help of the 2’s fleet-footed soft-top cousin, the Mazda MX-5, to see if any of the roadster’s sports car wisdom has rubbed off on our long-term runabout. The MX-5 is often credited as being one of the best handling cars on sale today, so any similarities between the two cars will be a major plus for our long-termer.
Just to make it clear, we’re not doing a direct comparison here; the cars are in completely separate classes and targeted at different market segments. Rather we’re looking to see how much of the MX-5’s fun-factor has made its way down to the 2. To make things a little more relevant though, we’re testing the 1.5-litre MX-5, meaning the engine is the same as the one in our 2 – even if power figures are some 40hp apart.
Let’s start with the good stuff. Like in the MX-5, the 2 rewards you for wringing every last rev out of its naturally aspirated engine, enthusiastically buzzing all the way up to its 7,000rpm red line. Although not the fastest, the 2 gains a real sense of urgency above 4,000rpm, its turbo-less engine providing razor-sharp responses.
The same can be said for the supermini’s handling. Responsive to the slightest of inputs from the steering wheel, the 2 provides an enjoyable but forgiving – perhaps more so than the MX-5 – driving experience, with the rear-end coming into play should the mood take you.
A roaring success then? Not quite. As agile and responsive as the handling may be, a noticeable lack of torque from the engine means nipping into those little gaps in traffic can be a bit hit-and-miss. Unless you’re in exactly the right gear at exactly the right time the 1.5-litre engine falls flat, leaving you in a proverbial no-man’s-land waiting for the revs to rise.
For a car destined for use in and around town, constantly having it in the lowest possible gear becomes tiresome – not to mention expensive when your fuel consumption goes through the roof.
Having said that, we’d be very keen to try out the 115hp version of the 2. Perhaps the extra power – and torque – could make the difference when it comes to gaining a little more low-down shove. Speaking of low-down shove, we’re also keen to see how a diesel-engined 2 would fare out in the real world.
Overall mileage: 4,945 miles
Fuel economy: 51.3mpg
By James Dennison
It isn’t news to most of us that achieving manufacturers’ claimed fuel economy figures is something you’ll only be able to do if you’re driving the car under very favourable conditions. Mazda’s scheme of right-sizing its engines – opting for higher capacity instead of turbocharging like other brands – means claimed fuel economy is altogether slightly more realistic, but seeing the magic 62.8mpg claimed figure on our trip computer has alluded us so far.
However, we’re not far off. While the readout on the dash has rarely deviated from 50-point-something miles per gallon, on a couple of occasions we’ve calculated as much as 54.9mpg, which we think is very impressive – that’s been under fairly normal driving conditions, too, not slip-streaming behind a lorry going downhill with a tailwind pushing us along.
That got me thinking – can we get as close in the diesel version of the Mazda 2 that claims 83.1mpg?
Is 80+mpg achievable in the diesel?
It wasn’t in my time with the car. Over nearly 300 miles, I averaged 56mpg with an indicated 57mpg on the trip. That was around town, on B-roads and motorways.
That’s disappointing to say the very least – it’s 26mpg clear of the claimed figures. Admittedly, the diesel I drove had only just over 1,000 miles on the clock whereas our petrol has a good 4,000 miles extra under its belt, but I was still expecting to see something a bit higher than this.
Maybe given some more time and more miles, that figure would creep up, but so far the petrol is looking favourable. The good news is that the diesel boasts low CO2 emissions of just 89g/km, so it’s exempt from road tax.
Is it as fun to drive as the petrol?
The diesel shares the same enjoyable driving experience as the petrol. That means it feels light on its feet and it’s fun to throw into corners. The diesel doesn’t have quite as much aural character as the petrol, but it feels punchy thanks to 105hp and 220Nm of torque.
The diesel is supposedly 0.7 seconds slower to 62mph, but in reality it feels quicker thanks to its torquey power delivery. It’s great on the motorway too – it's incredibly refined and the sixth gear (one more than in the petrol) really helps to keep things settled and quiet. It’s the one to go for if these are the kind of roads you find yourself on regularly.
What would we spend our money on?
The sticking point with the diesel is its price. At £17,395, it’s not cheap. Add metallic paint and that creeps up to £17,935 like the car we tested.
With no extras fitted, the diesel costs £1,900 more than the equivalent 90hp petrol – our red Mazda 2 costs £16,855 so it closes the gap slightly, but the diesel can’t be specified with the upmarket Light Stone interior of our car either. That’s an option I think really complements the 2’s neatly-designed cabin.
If 90hp isn’t enough, then Mazda will also sell you a 115hp petrol, which still undercuts the diesel at £16,695 – so at least there’s choice either side of the diesel in terms of power.
If it was my money, I’d go for the cheaper petrol. Both are fun to drive, but you’ll get more satisfaction from getting close to the petrol’s claimed economy than being disappointed by falling short of the diesel’s lofty claims.
Overall mileage: 5,209 miles
Fuel economy: 54.9mpg
By Tom Goodlad
It was time to see how the Mazda 2 fared against the UK's best-selling car - and our long-termer - the Ford Fiesta.
Working the rev counter
Since I’ve been accustomed to the relaxed, turbocharged nature of the Fiesta, it only takes a short distance before you’re reminded about having to change your driving style for the Mazda. Instead of changing up a gear at 3,000 rpm like you would in the Fiesta, the Mazda 2’s naturally-aspirated engine is only just about ready to wake up at this point.
To put it simply: you need to rev the engine in the Mazda above 4,000rpm in order to get the best performance out of it. Call me a cynic, but it just doesn’t feel as quick as the 0-62mph time of 9.4 seconds suggests. The Fiesta has 50 more horsepower (despite a little added weight), and yet the 2 theoretically only requires an extra 0.4 seconds to complete the sprint.
What the 2 has successfully done though is trump the Fiesta’s mpg figures with ease - averaging mpg in the low 50s compared with the Fiesta's low 40s figure – successfully proving the theory that downsizing engines and fitting turbochargers doesn't necessarily maximise fuel efficiency. A point cemented by the identical £20 annual road tax thanks to their similar CO2 emissions outputs.
Elsewhere, the little Mazda betters the Fiesta for rear visibility, has a less creaky cabin, and is fitted with a modern, user-friendly infotainment system mated to a substantially punchier stereo.
Noisy acquaintance on the motorway
Where the 2 does struggle in my mind is in terms of refinement: wind noise is quite high at motorway speeds and while Mazda’s ethos of weight-saving in its vehicles is a benefit in fuel efficiency, I found myself wishing for a bit more sound-deadening on a long journey.
The 2 does feel like a miniature, more nimble version of the CX-3 on the road - which may come as no real surprise - but something which I hadn’t noticed with our previous crossover is how the right-hand screen in the instrument cluster is susceptible to glare and becomes completely unreadable in the sun (see above).
The automatic central locking that activates within seconds of closing the doors is a bit of an annoyance too. Loading up to go camping at the weekend meant the doors kept locking themselves when moving to and fro – annoying if you have to walk some distance away from the car each time and fumble with the fob when you return.
That said, it did manage to fit everything in with the rear seats folded.
Overall mileage: 5,560 miles
Fuel economy: 51.8mpg
By Lawrence Cheung, Web Producer
You’d think a car shared by two people would get plenty of attention and we’d be fighting for the keys, but such is the busy nature of the Parkers office that we’ve both been in and out of various other cars in the last couple of weeks.
That means our Soul Red 2 has sat virtually untouched recently, accumulating cobwebs and dusty rain marks, but occasional use means the miles have continued to creep up.
That also means an unexpected warning light reared its head on an early-morning trip up the A1 to the office. Thinking it was something more serious than it was, it turns out the car’s first service had been pre-set to 6,500 miles, so when it ticked over the 6,000-mile mark, the warning light came on.
Cue a quick trip to Donalds Mazda of Peterborough to get our first taste of Mazda aftersales care, and it impressed.
The car was booked in, I was offered a lift back to the office and our Mazda would be dropped back later; but just before I was whisked back to work, the keys were back in my hand. All that was required was a quick reset of the warning light and I was back on my way after no more than 15 minutes. Simple and fuss-free.
And that’s becoming something of a theme with our Mazda. Whether you get in it every day or after it’s been sitting in an airport car park for a while, when you jump back in it’s so easy to get used to driving it again, and there’s a lot to be said for a car that just does the job without any major hiccups or quirks. It's just an extra bonus that it looks good in doing so and is maintaining an average of around 50mpg.
Overall mileage: 6,013 miles
Fuel economy: 48.3mpg
By Tom Goodlad
Dedicating an update to list the negatives of a car sounds like a bit of a harsh thing to do, but luckily it’s going to be a quick one – there’s not a lot that really bugs me about the 2.
However, that doesn’t mean there haven’t been one or two niggles that we’ve noticed over the course of six months with the car.
This one seems to be applicable only to me and my iPhone. On several occasions, the Bluetooth has spontaneously disconnected mid-song (thankfully it’s just me in the car most of the time to hear the bad singing), while the phone connection just doesn’t want to play ball a lot of the time.
Incoming calls merely pause the music, but don’t ring through the car, but returning the calls through the car works absolutely fine. It’s something that’s happened several times.
The fact the car locks itself when you walk away from it is a great feature. However, there’s been more than one occasion where I’ve either been distracted on my way to the boot after getting out or some similar situation, so that when I’ve got around the other side of the car, it beeps and locks itself. It’s not a huge thing, but it’s just a little inconvenient when your hand is already around the door handle and it catches you just at the wrong time.
The Mazda 2’s stop-start system only seems to cut in in certain conditions – it won’t do it with the air-con on, it seems – even if the car’s been running for over an hour and is well up to temperature.
I tested this by switching off all heating/ventilation in traffic and the i-Stop light immediately illuminated and the car switched off. It certainly hasn’t saved much petrol over the course of six months.
We’ve mentioned this before, and I’m not the only one to think the small screens either side of the speedometer are difficult to see. In bright sunlight they’re impossible to read, while even bright daylight makes it difficult. I personally think the dials could be a bit brighter at night, too.
Overall though, I think the Mazda 2 is one of the best superminis currently available. It looks great, it’s fun to drive and the interior is attractively styled, if a little lacking in quality in places.
Still, the positive comments I have about this car far outweigh the small niggles that can be tolerated day-to-day, and if a potential facelift somewhere down the line addresses these small issues, it could be even more of a winner.
Overall mileage: 6,221 miles
Fuel economy: 48.6mpg
Superminis aren’t just supposed to be diminutive in size. Small fuel bills are also a part of their appeal, meaning our Mazda 2’s real-world fuel economy returns can’t afford to be too far off the claimed figures.
Mazda sticks with larger, non-turbocharged engines
What makes things even more relevant is the unusual way Mazda goes about designing its engines. The vast majority of car manufacturers currently employ a technique called ‘downsizing’ – the practice of achieving equal or better performance and economy from smaller-sized engines.
Mazda, however, does things a little differently. Instead of bringing down the displacement (size of the engine) and adding turbochargers to make up the difference, Mazda sticks with bigger motors and forgoes turbocharging; the idea being the engine won’t have to work as hard and thus will achieve greater fuel economy.
Real-world fuel figure is 80% accurate
Does it work? Sort of. Our test car’s fuel economy consistently hovers around the 50mpg mark, which, after a bit of research, turns out to be similar to what other Mazda 2 owners are achieving. It’s certainly nowhere near the 62.8mpg official figure, but we reckon reaching 80% of the claimed number is a reasonable effort from Mazda.
A little more research reveals that opting for either a 100hp 1.0-litre Ford Fiesta, 82hp 1.2-litre Peugeot 208 or 90hp 1.2-litre Skoda Fabia (also non-turbocharged), would return more or less the same real-world averages.
So, is downsizing best or does Mazda have the right idea with bigger, non-turbocharged engines? A lot of that depends on driving style, as while the Mazda 2 is happier to rev through the gears it lacks the low-down torque of turbo engines. That said, our 2 can be driven hard and not suffer a major dip in economy - unlike its turbocharged rivals.
Overall mileage: 6,514 miles
Fuel economy: 50.5 mpg
By James Dennison
The time has come to say goodbye to our Mazda 2, and it’s safe to say we’ve been thoroughly impressed over the last six months and 4,000 miles.
On the whole, the Mazda 2 has been a pleasure to run. One thing that’s struck us in our time with the car is just how easy it is to live with day-to-day, and how familiar it is to jump back into after time spent behind the wheel of other cars.
The driving position is spot on, all the controls are within easy reach and everything seems to just work. What makes it even more impressive is that it’s such a nice place in which to spend time.
While it lacks the ultimate quality of something like the VW Polo, the design is interesting – with the Light Stone leather seats of our car really lifting the cabin’s ambiance and making it feel more special.
The only hiccup we encountered that required a trip to the dealer was a premature service warning light. But this served to highlight how easy it is to deal with Mazda aftersales care – at least in our experience it was hassle-free, which is just what you want when you encounter an issue.
Other than that there are no noticeable rattles from the trim and no minor mechanical gripes to whinge about. It’s been a properly solid and dependable car.
Does it make sense as an urban runaround?
Very much so, and that’s important considering the Mazda 2 will most likely spend the majority of its life around town. It’s quick and easy to manoeuvre in tight car parks thanks to light controls and good visibility, and the practical five-door body means dropping off and picking up passengers is an easy operation.
Our only criticism on the practicality front is the access to the 280-litre boot. While a decent size and on a par with most of its rivals, the shape of the tailgate and high loading lip makes it a little more awkward to load bigger, heavier items.
Has it stood up well to life with us?
It’s had a lot thrown at it – and it’s performed very well indeed. It’s been on cross-country jaunts where agile handling impressed, long motorway journeys where it’s been settled and refined, and even used as a load-lugger for a camping trip.
The only niggles we’ve had – and they’ve not been universal – are a problematic Bluetooth connection, dim dials and the fact that the self-locking system is too clever for its own good. Even then they’re small complaints about a car that’s been difficult to fault in our short time with it.
One of the key features that makes the Mazda 2 stand out from its rivals is the MZD Connect infotainment system. It comprises a touchscreen sitting atop the dashboard and a rotary controller down by the handbrake – rather like the BMW iDrive system.
It’s uncomplicated, effective and easy to use – just as it should be, while the choice of controls for it only adds to the appeal. It’s got to be one of the best in its class.
Optional extras – are they worth it?
Our Sport Nav trim Mazda 2 (£16,155) comes at a £1,000 premium over the more basic SE-L Nav car (£15,155), but is the extra kit worth the difference?
This goes down as a resounding yes in our book, Sport Nav models coming with a huge range of extra standard kit over the SE-L Nav spec, including:
- Climate control
- Keyless entry and keyless ignition
- 16-inch alloy wheels (over the SE-L Nav’s 15-inch alloys)
- Automatic headlights and wipers
- Privacy glass
Each one makes the 2 that little bit easier to live with, and, at the end of the day, that’s what really matters in a car like this.
Counting the costs
From new our Mazda 2 cost £16,845. After eight months and 7,000 miles from new the Parkers Used Car Valuation tool lists its franchised dealer value as £12,695 and private sale value between £9,920 and £11,625.
Taking the higher franchised value into account, that means it’s cost us 59 pence per mile in depreciation to run the Mazda. A fairly hefty outlay, with the Mazda 2 losing 25% of its value within the first eight months.
Yet, compare this with similarly-specced rivals such as the Ford Fiesta and Peugeot 208, which both lose about 30% of their value after the same time period and mileage, and things start to look a lot better. It’s still some way short of the 90hp 1.2-litre Skoda Fabia, however, which should only lose 19% of its original value.
Yet, take the 2’s impressive fuel economy into account and the running costs start to look even more reasonable. We averaged 49.1 mpg in the 4,042 miles that we covered in the car, with a highest recorded fuel economy figure of 54.9mpg and the lowest being 45.5mpg.
We can’t calculate the cost per mile including fuel because we didn’t have the car from new, but sufficed to say such impressive economy figures would help bring it down.
Mazda will be targeting young drivers for the 2, so we found out how much it would cost to insure one of us (a 22-year-old male driver with a five-year no claims bonus) on the car.
There was the usual mix of quotes, but the best one we got was for £795 per year, with the caveat that a black box recording device be fitted to the 2. Another insurance company suggested a premium of £804 without the black box.
We checked out potential insurance quotes for the 2’s rivals, with each one coming in at around the same price on the same terms.
Mazda has made a fine supermini with the 2, and one that has no obvious flaws. It’s reliable, relatively refined and economical, while running costs are on a par – if not slightly better – than its rivals. We picked well with the Sport Nav spec, but if you're planning on doing a significant amount of motorway driving, we’d opt for either the 1.5-litre diesel or more powerful 110hp petrol engines.
Here's a quick snapshot of our highlights:
Highlights – Tom
- Sharp looks
- Attractive, well equipped interior
- Intuitive infotainment system
Highlights – James
- Slick gear change
- Enjoyable handling
- Easy to use controls
As for our next long termer, we’re keeping it in the Mazda family...
Keep an eye on our Living with it page over the next few weeks to see our introductory piece on the MX-5 Icon.
Overall mileage: 7,066 miles
Fuel economy: 49.1 mpg
By James Dennison and Tom Goodlad