Since its launch in 2014, the third-generation Mazda2 hatch has been a runaway success. So, to give buyers even more choice at that micro end of the market, Mazda added a two-model Neo and Maxx sedan line-up in late 2015.
While there have been many awkward and ungainly looking sedans grafted from hatches over the years, the new Mazda2 shows how it’s done, with a stylish four-door body oozing appeal and a boot that’s bigger than Mazda’s CX5 SUV.
Vehicle Style: Light sedan
Price: $19,690 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 81kW/141Nm1.5 4cyl petrol | 6sp automatic
Fuel Economy claimed: 4.9 l/100km | tested: 5.8 l/100km
It’s the first time since 2011 that Mazda has sold the sedan version of the 2 here. This time around Mazda's smallest sedan is both lower (by 25mm) and more importantly longer (260mm), than the mechanically-identical Mazda2 hatch it's based upon.
It also has a more balanced profile, with the steeply angled back-window flowing neatly into the short boot lid. Light sedans aren't often the most aesthetically-pleasing things, but the new 2 certainly isn't as awkward-looking as some of its peers (and it would look great with a set of bigger rims).
We're testing the Maxx auto here, the top-spec version in the range.
- Standard equipment: cruise control, manual air-conditioning, cloth upholstery, leather tilt and reach multifunction steering wheel, trip computer
- Infotainment: MZD Connect with 7-inch screen, Bluetooth for phone and audio, CD player, internet radio, reversing camera and in this car, the optional sat nav.
- Cargo volume: 440 litres seats-up, 60/40 split rear folding backrests
The cabin has a spacious feel and the trim materials and surfaces give it a class-leading quality look and feel.
The gloss black panels, silver garnish, red stripes and seat stitching plus carbon-fibre patterned trimmings on the console, door trims, dash and leather-clad steering wheel add a more than a touch of sportiness.
The black cloth trimmed front seats are extremely comfortable and supportive with the driver’s seat having 260mm fore and aft adjustment, one of the best in class.
Add in the seat height adjustability along with the tilt and reach steering wheel and drivers of all stature will quickly find a sweet driving position.
The 2 sedan has more front legroom (1063mm) than its rivals the Honda City (1062mm) and Hyundai Accent (1062mm). Rear legroom is acceptable and more there’s room to get your feet under the front seats.
The cushion of the 60/40 split seat has been raised to help outward vision and create a sense of space. Backseat roominess honours go to the Honda which also has the biggest boot.
The full-colour 7-inch are infotainment screen, with its range of menus and internet radio, is slightly recessed into the dash for a cleaner look and the combination of analogue and digital instruments are easy to read at a glance, with an eye pleasing hue at night.
The 2 sedan’s extra length is responsible for the huge 440-litre boot that dwarfs even the CX5 (403 litres with the seats up) for sheer carrying capacity.
Its cleverly sculptured plastic lining grabs every millimetre of space, so it easily accommodates golf bags, oversized suit cases and even a major shopping expedition with room to spare.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 81kW/141Nm 1.5-litre petrol inline four
- Transmission: six-speed automatic, FWD
- Suspension: MacPherson strut front, Torsion beam rear
- Brakes: 258 front ventilated discs and 200mm rear drums
- Steering: Electrically-assisted power steering, 9.4m
Should a city runabout be this much fun to drive? Mazda believes so.
They are the masters at building fun into cars and the Mazda 2 Maxx sedan is no exception.
The Maxx sedan shares the same high-spec 1.5 litre four cylinder engine as the Mazda 2 Maxx and Genki hatchbacks. That engine hails from the same family as the jewel in the 1.5 litre MX5.
Both share a compression ratio of 13.0:1, but that’s where the similarities end; with the MX5 getting a different camshaft profile and other mechanical changes to give it the extra grunt.
This perky SKYACTIV G engine is a ripper and makes the Mazda 2 the driver’s choice in the class.
It readily spins to the redline, where its peak power and torque live, while being impressively gentle on the hip pocket, with an official figure of 4.9 L/100km/h. My figure of 5.8L/100km, included plenty of city traffic, (using the automatic stop-start feature) and several cross country runs over nearby hills.
The ($2,000) optional six-speed SKYACTIV-Drive auto complements the engine and when you want to play, there is a self-shifting option. For more spice, a Sport button tweaks the engine and six-speed SKYACTIV gearbox.
The light, accurate steering, tight turning circle and pliable ride are ideal for city driving, yet the suspension is taut enough to get the best out of the well-sorted chassis.
The result is that you can tackle bends with total confidence, and a broad grin.
Truth to be told, the Mazda Maxx 2 sedan delivers more driver engagement than many more expensive cars.If every sedan drove as well as this one, there would be a lot more of them sold.
ANCAP Rating: 5-Stars, the Mazda2 scored 36.35 out of 37 points in ANCAP crash testing
Standard safety features: Six airbags, ABS brakes, stability and traction control, hill launch assist, ISOFIX points, rear parking sensors and a reversing camera. Note that a reversing camera is only standard on the high-grade Mazda2 Maxx - the base Neo goes without.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
The Mazda 2 has always been a popular choice, but this latest generation hatch and sedan have quickly established themselves at the top of the heap, thanks to their brand cache, bullet-proof reliability, appealing looks and driving dynamics.
In a segment dominated by hatchbacks, only a few brands have added a sedan, like Mazda, to capture incremental sales and satisfy all tastes. In fact, besides the Mazda2 there are just three other sedan offerings in the light car segment:
TMR VERDICT I OVERALL
There is a lot to like about the Mazda2 Maxx Auto sedan.
It is by far the most enjoyable car to drive in this class, with superb driving dynamics. Its interior is comfortable and spacious with an unrivalled quality feel.
It is also well-priced and well-equipped, and, though it carries less luggage than its competitors, the boot is large enough to satisfy most.
And its certainly kind to your hip pocket and the environment. Factor in the excellent fuel efficiency, as well as Mazda's Service Select offering (which allows owners to vary the service schedules according to distance travelled) and there are a whole lot of reasons to consider this little gem of a car.