2012 MAZDA2 REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Five-door light hatchback
Fuel Economy (claimed): 6.8 l/100km
Fuel Economy (tested): 7.3 l/100km
Mazda Australia has boosted the appeal of the range-topping Mazda2 Genki by adding more standard equipment and some light styling revisions.
The spec changes are also complemented by a $445 reduction in sticker-price over the old model, although at $22,145 the Mazda2 Genki is still at the premium end of the light car segment.
Quality: The Mazda2’s dash is mostly hard plastics, but with a higher quality feel. The leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear lever also add a slightly more upmarket feel to the cabin.
The removable divider in the centre console tray however feels cheap, but otherwise this is a well-built interior.
Comfort: The front seats are small but comfortable enough and give decent support, however the steering wheel only adjusts for tilt and not reach - not something we’d tolerate in a $20k+ car.
The front passenger’s right knee is crowded by the centre stack, and back seat passengers suffer from a lack of headroom.
Rear legroom is okay and the bench is comfortable enough for two adults, but the rear door apertures are small and make getting in and out difficult.
The dual-level glovebox is a handy feature, but there’s only a single cupholder (each front door bin can hold a small bottle however).
Equipment: As part of the mid-2011 update, the Genki is now equipped with rain-sensing wipers, dusk-sensing headlamps, cruise control, trip computer and climate control air conditioning as standard.
Power windows, mirrors and front foglamps are also standard-issue, but there’s no USB audio input (only a 3.5mm auxilliary jack), and Bluetooth phone integration is not offered.
Storage: The Mazda2 can carry just 250 litres with the rear seats up, which is enough for a week’s shopping but not much else.
Capacity rises to 469 litres with the back seats folded, but the pronounced step between the seatbacks and the boot floor can be annoying.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: The Mazda2’s 1.5 litre powertrain is a sweet willing unit that’s let down by an antiquated four-speed automatic.
Peak power of 76kW and 135Nm of torque may not seem like much, but it’s enough to get the Genki’s 1032kg frame moving smartly. When loaded up with passengers it starts to lose its zing, but that’s normal for a naturally-aspirated motor of this size.
The automatic transmission suffers from a lack of ratios, and while it kicks down quickly, an extra gear would help keep the engine within its powerband. Sport mode keeps revs higher and gears lower, but there is no manual shift-mode offered.
Our advice would be to opt for the slick-shifting five-speed manual instead.
Refinement: Wind and tyre noise are quite noticeable inside the Genki, despite the car’s better-than-average NVH suppression. The automatic’s light-throttle engagement can also feel a bit jerky at times.
Suspension: The Genki is fitted with a sports-tuned suspension with firmer springs and dampers. It also rides on larger-diameter 16-inch alloy wheels, which impart the 2 with a jittery ride on rough roads.
Excellent handling is the upshot. Body roll is minimal, and there’s a lot of grip to exploit before the nose eventually pushes wide into understeer. The electric power steering also responds quickly, and transmits a good amount of information into the driver’s hands.
Braking: Braking revisions brought in last year have made the Mazda2’s brake pedal more responsive. Although the disk/drum brake package is small, the lightweight 2 can be stopped very quickly.
ANCAP rating: Five stars
Safety features: Stability control and a full suite of six airbags (front, front side, curtain) are standard on the Genki, as is ABS, EBD and brake assist.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: 3 years/unlimited kilometres.
Service costs: TBA
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
Volkswagen Polo 77TSI Comfortline DSG ($22,350) - With a torquey turbocharged 77kW/175Nm 1.2 litre engine and a brilliant twin-clutch seven-speed automatic, the Polo is a delight to drive.
The Mazda2 Genki has a better equipment list, but the Polo feels the more well-rounded package - at least for the driver. (see Polo reviews)
Suzuki Swift GLX automatic ($20,690) - About equal with the Genki in terms of performance, the Swift GLX manages to pack more standard equipment (Bluetooth, USB input, proximity key, reach-adjustable steering) for less coin.
Its four-speed automatic is also a better transmission than the Mazda2’s auto.
The Swift GLX is our pick of the premium light car segment, thanks to its blend of value-for-money and driving enjoyment. (see Swift reviews)
Toyota Yaris YRX ($21,390) - Outdated and overpriced, the current Yaris is due for replacement later this year.
Bluetooth and a standard driver’s knee airbag however are standard features, but the Yaris is now tiring and not the value it was. We’d advise waiting for the new one to land in late 2011. (see Yaris reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
The light car segment is an incredibly competitive one, but the Mazda2 has proved its worth by consistently heading private sales in the segment.
It’s not hard to see why it’s been so popular: superb dynamics, an engaging engine and reasonably good value for money make the Mazda2 Genki hard to beat. However, there is room for improvement.
The Mazda2’s antiquated automatic transmission lets it down, but that’s easily remedied by choosing the five-speed manual (and saving $1650 in the process).
The absence of Bluetooth, USB audio input and a reach-adjustable steering column are oversights on Mazda’s part; the addition of these to the Genki’s spec sheet would make it an even more enticing offering.
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