2015 Mazda2 Review and First Drive

by under Review on 29 Oct 2014 09:49:38 AM29 Oct 2014
2014 MAZDA2
FROM $14,990 TO $21,990
Fuel Consumption

Stylish good looks; slick interior; great value; driving dynamics as good as they get.


16-inch alloys introduce some tyre noise; reversing camera should be standard

Mazda brings the full suite of SkyActiv technology to compact cars with the launch of the all-new third-generation Mazda2. And with a starting price of just $16,990, Mazda2 really does challenge the notion that big cars have value and small cars have less.

For instance, the all-new Mazda2 brings the compact car segment’s first availability of safety-boosting ‘Smart City Brake Support’. As well, there’s an available ‘Head-Up Display’


Since 2011 the current generation Mazda2 has been Australia’s best-selling compact car with private and small business customers (only rivals who sell to rental car and major fleet customers have sold more) and the all-new model looks set to continue that success. Even though this segment is our toughest, with rivals from every corner of the globe, Mazda Australia tips 13,000 Mazda2s will be sold next year.

2015 Mazda2 Overview

Apart from the head-turning new looks, all-new Mazda2 is much more sophisticated and refined than the outgoing model with a visible lift in interior style and quality and much-improved on-road dynamics. It feels like it belongs in the mid-size segment.

Mazda has launched the all-new Mazda2 in its usual model range – entry-level ‘Neo’, mid-grade ‘Maxx’ and range-topping ‘Genki’. The anticipation is Neo models will account for 55 per-cent of sales, Maxx will deliver 25 per-cent and the Genki will account for 20 per-cent. Some 70 per-cent of Mazda2 buyers opt for the six-speed automatic transmission.

The full range is:

Neo manual    $14,990
Neo automatic $16,990
Maxx manual $16,990
Maxx automatic  $18,990
Genki manual $19,990
Genki automatic $21,990

However to really liven-up the compact car market, Mazda Australia is launching the all-new Mazda2 with special ‘Driveaway’ prices (just add $2,000 to the Manufacturers’ List Prices above to get the ‘Driveaway’ figures). Mazda Australia boss Martin Benders said there is no ‘end-date’ for the ‘Driveaway’ deals so value-for-money is a real attribute for this exciting newcomer.

2015 Mazda2 Engine

All-new Mazda2 employs two versions of the SkyActiv-G 1.5-litre petrol engine.

Entry-level Mazda2 Neo gets a version delivering 79kW of power at 6000rpm and peak torque of 139Nm at 4000rpm while the other models score a higher-compression version with fuel-saving i-stop technology and good for 81kW of power at 6000rpm and peak torque of 141Nm at 4000rpm.


All drive through the new SkyActiv –MT and SkyActiv-Drive six-speed manual or automatic transmissions. These new gearboxes and lighter and the manual in particular is impressive in its light and precise operations.

Combined-cycle fuel consumption is as low as 4.9l/100kms.

2015 Mazda2 The Interior

No beating around the bush from Ayumi Doi, the global Mazda2 Program Manager who flew to Australia to introduce the new model range. Quite simply Doi-San’s target was an interior design to set a new global benchmark for compact cars and, after a day in Maxx and Genki versions, we reckon he’s nailed that target.

There’s an obvious quality look and feel as soon as you open the door, a sophisticated design for the instrument binnacle, a sporty shape for the seats and more front shoulder room. Craftsmanship takes a big leap over the outgoing model – there’s even an optional ($250) ‘Colour Pack’ which brings an interesting red colour for the seats… very ‘on-trend’.


But it’s the attention to detail which counts – things like a revised driving position which offers a better field of vision than the outgoing model and a pedal position which is straight ahead and wider apart (many rivals have pedals too close and offset to the left).

To the left, range-topping Genki models feature soft-touch red-stitched trim highlights and a free-standing seven-inch colour touchscreen with Mazda’s MZD Connect system (a first for Mazda2). Genki and Maxx models also score a nice leather-wrapped three-spoke steering wheel which is ideally sized and adjusts for rake and reach.

Reversing cameras are optional – the Genki displays the image on the seven-inch dashboard screen while on other models the image appears on the internal rear-vision mirror.

2015 Mazda2 Exterior & Styling

The latest in Mazda’s ‘Kodo’ design theme, the all-new Mazda2 adopts a powerful stance. ‘Kodo’ styling demanded an 80mm rearward shift for the A-pillars which has the effect of moving the cabin rearwards – combine that with downward-sloping side character lines and the Mazda2 looks powerful and somehow rear-wheel-drive.

That powerful stance is also exaggerated by placing all four wheels at the extreme edges with little overhang. In fact, compared to the previous generation, all-new Mazda2’s front wheels have shifted forwards by 80mm.


Like the larger Mazda3, the all-new Mazda2 features complex flared fenders and kicked-up rear shoulders.

At the front is the hallmark wing grille in chrome. It’s a new version for the Mazda2 with a three-dimensional look and the tip of the wing runs through the complex headlights – again a dynamic, powerful look.

Rear-view sees high-mounted tail-lights and shoulder character lines which kick up from the rear three-quarters, a nicely curved tailgate and forward-sloping rear hatch glass.

Genki models ride on nice 16-inch alloy wheels with Dunlop tyres while Maxx models score 15-inch alloys with Yokohama rubber. 

2015 Mazda2 On The Road

The familiar roads of the Gold Coast and Northern NSW were the venue for the Mazda2 national media launch. During the day www.carshowroom.com.au first got behind the wheel of a mid-grade Maxx model with a six-speed manual transmission and, for the trip back, a Genki version with a six-speed automatic transmission.

The Mazda2 Maxx with the six-speed manual was a nice sporty starting point. We must say the SkyActiv-MT six-speeder is a joy – slick and precise gear changes enabled us to exploit the maximum from the 1.5-litre SkyActiv-G engine (a sport mode setting sharpened operations even further).


And on the return leg our Mazda2 Genki with its six-speed SkyActiv-Drive automatic transmission was untroubled by the various hills behind the Tweed Coast. Kick-down was timely for overtaking trucks.

Ride/handling and steering response were noticeably sharper than the previous generation and so was overall refinement. Mazda says these improvements come from 22 per-cent extra torsional rigidity in the bodyshell of the all-new Mazda2 and also refinements to the MacPherson strut front/torsion beam rear suspension.

2015 Mazda2 Issues

On the driving front we did notice some tyre noise on coarse-chip roads when behind the wheel of the Genki model with its 16-inch wheels and on the specification front, as we say with all new model introductions, the proven safety of reversing cameras mean they should always be standard.

2015 Mazda2 Verdict

Australia is the first market outside Japan to introduce the all-new Mazda2 and the first to source the newcomer from the Mazda plant in Thailand. As part of its globalization plans, the Japanese giant is soon to start left-hand-drive production in Mexico.

The quality of the cars we drove was excellent – testimony to Mazda’s demanding standards.

Mazda was up-front in saying its mission for the all-new Mazda2 was to be the compact car benchmark. We’re happy to go along with that assertion.


We get this whole SkyActiv philosophy and its application to the all-new Mazda2 is part of the background to that ‘benchmark’ status. The payback is better engines, better transmissions and better driving dynamics thanks to a better chassis.

In a car which starts at $14,990 that really is remarkable.

2015 Mazda2 The Competition

Ford’s German-origin Fiesta is a Car Showroom Favourite compact car. Ford has the Fiesta very sharply priced from $15,825 to $20,525, and in the engine department you get a choice of 1.5-litre four-cylinder or the remarkable award-winning 1.0-litre three-cylinder. When it comes to driving dynamics, the Ford Fiesta is the one which gives the all-new Mazda2 a close shave.

Apart from the all-new Mazda2, Honda’s all-new Jazz is the freshest design in compact car land. Again very sharply priced from $14,990 to $22,490 (you can also get a hybrid version for $22,990), the Honda Jazz is cleverly practical and nicely made. Non-hybrid versions employ Honda’s excellent 1.5-litre engine.

Although not the newest design on the block, Toyota has just updated the Yaris and it comes to market priced from$15,690 to $22,690. Typical Toyota in its fastidious attention to quality and powered by nice 1.3-litre or 1.5-litre engines, the Yaris is a good thing but there’s no denying it has now been outclassed by the all-new Mazda2.


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