Parkers overall rating: 3.9 out of 5 3.9
  • Just petrol power for the Mazda 2
  • Two versions of the same 1.5-litre engine
  • No more diesel available 

The Mazda 2 comes with a choice of two power options, all of which use the same 1.5-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine, just in different states of tune.

There was a diesel option as well, but this was dropped from the range recently. As most small cars cover shorter distances, it makes sense that the Mazda 2 now comes exclusively with petrol engines under the bonnet.

There are two available – or, more accurately, one with two different power outputs. All petrol 2s feature 1.5-litre naturally aspirated (non-turbocharged) four cylinder engines, which are uncannily smooth and quiet, particularly at lower speeds.

Serving as the range’s entry point is a 75hp version producing 135Nm of torque at a relatively high 3,800rpm. If you rarely venture outside the urban confines of a city, this motor’s adept at the job of keeping up with traffic without much aural drama.

On the odd occasion you might want to take it further, be prepared for use the slick six-speed manual gear lever, as you’ll need to swap ratios frequently to make the most of what power it’s got on offer. It gets coarser as the speed increases, or when you need to pull out of a junction with a greater degree of pace.

There’s a 106mph top speed and leisurely 11.7-second trundle from 0-62mph.

The 90hp version, again with the six-speed manual ‘box, is the most popular choice of the range and it’s easy to see why.

That extra 15hp, joined by an increase in torque to 148Nm, liberates more performance (114mph top speed and 0-62mph in 9.7 seconds), but it’s also worth noting that despite the raised torque figure, that peak rate is delivered at 4,000rpm – so it’ll need working harder to access it, too.

Floor the throttle in fifth gear at motorway speeds and acceleration rate is glacial, so be prepared to change gear as well to make progress.

If all that gear changing sounds tiresome, Mazda offers the 2 with a six-speed automatic transmission, exclusively paired to the 90hp petrol engine. Like other Mazda automatic transmissions, it’s smooth in operation, ideal for diluting the drudgery of stop/start city driving.

Performance and economy are both sapped thanks to the automatic’s installation, offering a 12.0-second 0-62mph acceleration time.

Engines no longer available

Spend most of the time driving away from urban confines and the 115hp version makes more sense, although it’s only available on the range-topping versions. Peak torque remains the same as the 90hp engine. Top speed is 124mph while the 0-62mph sprint time is dispatched in 9.0 seconds.

Efficiency takes a bit of a knock with claimed fuel consumption dropping to 50.4mpg, emissions rising to 127g/km.

On the move, the 90hp engine remains smooth and hushed until you really need to stretch its legs getting up to speed on the motorway, but it settles down to a refined and composed experience. If you need the extra oomph but can't quite stretch to the 115hp version, it's a fine compromise. 

Handling

  • Light controls and tidy handling
  • Focuses more on comfort than sportiness
  • Grippy, but not as fun as a Fiesta 

As comfortable and competent as the Mazda 2 handling characteristics are, they don’t deliver much in the way of thrills.

Rather than showcasing the agility afforded by the weight-saving efficiency measures, Mazda’s instead chosen to maximise the 2’s refinement and sense of being in a bigger car, both to driver and passengers.

This is no bad thing and largely this brief’s been successfully undertaken. Ride quality is good both at slower, urban speeds and going faster along motorways, with good body control ensuring it doesn’t porpoise after a series of undulations.

The 2 corners accurately too, the grippy tyres holding on well until gently pushing wider in faster bends when too much speed nudges it into understeer. Body roll is kept neatly in check, including during rapid changes of direction, allowing the Mazda to feel stable and assured.

While you’re confident the Mazda’s going to head in the direction you’re pointing it at, it’s more of a seat-of-the-pants feel rather than the steering wheel acting as a conduit for communications from the road. In fact, holding the rim delivers very little sensation at all.

Steering feel aside, it and the 2’s other controls feel suitably weighted, erring on the lighter side to promote ease of use in city environments. The six-speed manual gearbox was slick in its operation, useful given how often you’ll use to it extract performance from the Mazda, although the six-speed version was slightly less satisfying in its action.

If out and out driving fun is a key buying factor for you, the Mazda 2’s still in the Ford Fiesta’s shade.