Parkers overall rating: 3.3 out of 5 3.3
  • Petrol engines only
  • Three power outputs
  • Larger engine size than you might expect

What engine options are there?

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

All Mazda 2s feature 1.5-litre naturally aspirated (non-turbocharged) four cylinder engines, which are uncannily smooth and quiet, particularly at lower speeds.

Petrol engines

Engine Power and torque
0-62mph time
Top speed
1.5-litre 75hp, 143Nm
11.3secs
106mph
1.5-litre 90hp, 151Nm
9.8-12.1secs
110-114mph
1.5-litre 115hp, 151Nm
9.1secs
124mph

Serving as the range’s entry point is a 75hp version. 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 to 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.

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.

Mazda 2 2020 six-speed manual gearbox

That extra 15hp, joined by an increase in torque, liberates more performance, 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 12.1-second 0-62mph acceleration time.

The 115hp version zips along nicely. It's palpably quicker than the other engines, and is the one to choose if you're a regular on the motorway or don't like the idea of a car with a 9.8second 0-62mph time. However, if you are regularly trudging up and down the British highways, we'd recommend going with a Ford Fiesta or Skoda Fabia instead, as both are less bouncy and more comfortable at speed.

How does it handle?

  • 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 has 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 at slower, urban speeds with good body control ensuring that you're not shaken by a series of undulations. High speed ride is compromised however. There's quite a bit of bounce at 70mph.

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.