Long-term test (Introduction): Mazda2 Individual Plus AT
Being the quiet sort who prefers flying under the radar to causing a ruckus, I was particularly pleased to take custody of a seemingly unsung hero of the hatchback fold, the Mazda2.
Mention B-segment cars and the likes of the VW Polo, Ford Fiesta and Hyundai i20 will be jostling at the forefront of your attention, comfortably ahead of the Mazda2, and this shouldn’t be the case. Even so, our long-termer’s Meteor Grey Mica metallic paintwork does lend it something of a “stealth hatch” look, but it’s still a taut, sporty little thing, rolling on a fetching set of dual-tone 16-inch alloys.
The cabin’s dark colour scheme makes it feel snug but, even with a brace of broader-shouldered folk up front, there’s enough width to the interior to ensure little chance of any awkward bodily contact. It’s also neatly trimmed, with soft-touch panels and a sporty pod-like instrument binnacle among the highlights. This 6 000 km test unit feels solidly put together, with no squeaks, creaks or bits of flappy trim letting the side down.
In my brief time with the car, I’ve come to appreciate the Mazda2’s sportiness expands beyond its styling, with a supple chassis and direct steering giving it a dynamic edge over most of its rivals. The Individual Plus is also particularly well stocked, with partial-leather trim, climate control, sat-nav, lane-departure warning and keyless entry among the standard items. This model also brings with it a head-up display system that, although fairly compact, manages to clearly convey plenty of information; from turn-by-turn navigation cues to speed limit signage and, of course, your current speed. I was a bit wary of the small-engine-auto-transmission arrangement, especially since Mazda has a knack for producing snappy, direct manual shifters, but the 1,5-litre naturally aspirated four feels stronger than its 82 kW suggest. This is a big plus on the 80 km motorway stint my daily commute includes, where the 2 has little bother holding its own in fast-moving traffic and is a likely factor in the 7,11 L/100 km fuel economy to date, close to our 6,80 L/100 km fuel-index figure. Motorway driving has also revealed the 2 to be a surprisingly substantial-feeling car despite a kerb weight that’s just a hair over 1 000 kg.
Niggles so far? Well, the rear legroom isn’t at all generous and the headlamps are rather dim on their dipped setting. Otherwise, the Mazda2 has made a quietly confident start.
After 1 month
Current Mileage: 1 033 km
Average fuel consumption: 7,11 L/100 km
We like: nimble handling; generous specification
We don’t like: tight rear legroom