The Mazda 2 is a first car staple in Australia.
The third-generation model has been on sale locally since 2014, and has been facelifted twice since then.
Does that mean it has nothing to offer? If you’re a young buyer on a budget, or an older buyer gearing up for life in the slow lane with an economical, easy-to-park runabout, the answer is no.
The G15 Pure SP on test here is the almost the cheapest automatic Mazda 2 you can buy, sitting above the Pure.
It lines up with the Kia Rio Sport ($23,490 before on-roads) for now, but the Rio is actually leaving Australia. Hyundai doesn’t offer an alternative.
The Mazda 2 undercuts the Suzuki Swift GL Shadow ($26,990 before on-roads), and sits alongside the Toyota Yaris Ascent Sport ($24,800 before on-roads).
If it’s something even cheaper you’re after, the MG 3 kicks off at $19,990 drive-away.
Mazda 2 pricing:
- 2024 Mazda 2 G15 Pure manual hatch: $22,720
- 2024 Mazda 2 G15 Pure automatic hatch/sedan: $24,720
- 2024 Mazda 2 G15 Pure SP hatch: $25,520
- 2024 Mazda 2 G15 Evolve hatch: $26,220
- 2024 Mazda 2 G15 GT hatch/sedan: $27,920
All prices exclude on-road costs
Simple and hard-wearing, the Mazda 2 interior hasn’t changed much since the current car debuted in 2014.
The seats are trimmed in what feels like hard-wearing cloth, the transmission tunnel and dashboard are hard plastic, and the dials for the air-conditioning are all classic city car touches. But the leather on the steering wheel, gear knob, and handbrake means most of what you frequently touch is nice.
Despite its diminutive footprint, the front seats of the Mazda 2 have space for tall drivers like me.
The wheel adjusts for reach and tilt, and the manually-adjusted seats slide enough to accommodate long legs. Although it’s still a small car, there are far worse places to spend time.
Storage spaces abound; meaning you won’t struggle for places to stash your morning coffee and overpriced metal drink bottle. The grey dashboard trim bits on the Pure SP are also welcome, and help to lift the ambience of the cabin.
The lack of a central armrest is annoying though, partly because there’s nowhere to hide your garage door opener and partly because it’s nice to have somewhere to rest your left elbow.
The Mazda 2 and CX-3 are the only two cars left in its range with the MZD Connect infotainment system, and it’s really starting to feel its age. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto both feature, but are slow to connect when you turn the car on.
Once you’re connected it’s not the quickest system in the world, and features slightly blocky graphics. At least it’s full featured, and we’d wager most owners will plug into CarPlay and never look back.
Rear seat space isn’t this car’s strong suit, but it’s not really meant to be.
With the driver’s seat in my position there’s no space back there at all, but you’ll fit average-sized adults behind slightly smaller adults on shorter trips.
The big windows help, creating a more welcoming atmosphere than you get from the bigger but helmet-shaped Mazda 3 hatchback, while the tall roofline means headroom is acceptable. There are no air vents back there, which is standard for the class.
Boot space is 250L, down 100L on the Volkswagen Polo. Although the second row folds 60/40, the seats don’t fold close to flat making it a less-than-ideal place to carry bigger items.
The Mazda 2 uses a 1.5-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine producing 81kW of power and 142Nm.
In the case of our tester, it’s mated with a six-speed automatic transmission – although a manual is also available.
The outputs don’t scream powerhouse, but the lightweight Mazda 2 packs more than enough punch for its primary role as a commuter.
It has enough pep down low to get off the mark quickly, and zings through the rev range when you bury the throttle. It doesn’t have the same mid-range pulling power as the turbo engine in the Polo or Swift, but that’s the price of sticking with a naturally-aspirated engine.
For the most part it’s smooth and quiet, but lean too hard on the throttle and it gets a bit noisy and coarse. Once again, acceptable in a compact city car, but a bit off the pace when compared to the smooth-moving Volkswagen Polo.
The six-speed torque converter is excellent. And by excellent we mean totally normal. There’s no hunting, no low-speed jerking or awkwardness on light throttle inputs, which are some of the biggest disadvantages with dual-clutch transmissions.
Mazda’s start/stop system could use a bit of work though. Some of my colleagues think it should kick in as you pull to a stop, but that’s not the biggest problem – it’s just too harsh when it cuts in, and requires a hard push on the brake pedal to activate.
There’s more than just a hint of Zoom Zoom about the way the Mazda 2 handles.
It feels light on its feet, with a keen front end and quick steering. You can sling the 2 around town with reckless abandon, which is always a joy in something so small and light.
The tall windows and light steering make it a cinch to park, too, and no underground garage is too tight. Unsurprisingly, this city car does its best work in the city.
That’s not to say it isn’t a good highway cruiser, though. The engine settles down nicely at the legal limit, and wind noise is surprisingly well suppressed on the move. There is a bit of roar from the tyres, but it’s nothing that can’t be solved by cranking up the stereo.
It feels planted in blustery conditions, although it does feel small when you’re wheel-to-wheel with a Kenworth.
Although you don’t get adaptive cruise control, you do get lane-keeping assist. It flashes a little light in the dashboard when it activates, and generally does a good job nudging you back between the white lines when required.
Mazda 2 G15 Pure highlights:
- 15-inch alloy wheels
- Power-folding exterior mirrors
- LED headlights
- Automatic headlights (NEW)
- Rain-sensing wipers
- 7.0-inch infotainment screen
- Wireless Apple CarPlay (NEW)
- Wired Android Auto
- DAB+ digital radio
- Leather-wrapped steering wheel
- Leather-wrapped shifter and handbrake
- Tilt and telescopic steering wheel adjustment
- Six-speaker sound system
- Keyless start
- Power windows
- 1 x 12V outlet
- 2 x USB outlet
Mazda 2 G15 Pure SP adds:
- 16-inch black-finish alloy wheels
- Carbon fibre-style roof (NEW)
- Shark fin antenna (NEW)
- Chrome exhaust extension (NEW)
- Black exterior mirrors
The Mazda 2 had a five-star rating from ANCAP, but as this was based on testing conducted in 2015 it has now expired.
All models come standard with the following equipment:
- Autonomous emergency braking (forward and reverse)
- Blind-spot monitoring
- Lane-keep assist
- Rear cross-traffic alert
- Rear parking sensors
- Reversing camera
The Mazda 2 is backed by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.
The Mazda 2 has fallen victim to inflation like its rivals, but it’s not been hit nearly as hard. That applies on two fronts.
You can’t get one for less than $20,000 drive-away but it’s still reasonable beside the latest Toyota Yaris, and lines up favourably against the MG 3 and Kia Picanto in G15 Pure guise.
It also hasn’t been ruined by trying to be too clever, or complex, or luxurious. It’s still an unpretentious, efficient way to get from A to B that’s slightly more fun to drive than it really needs to be, which is refreshing.
Should you bother with more expensive, more generously equipped models in the range? Er, no. That includes this Pure SP, which looks good but ultimately isn’t worth the extra money over the base model.
Provided the outdated interior technology isn’t a dealbreaker, the Mazda 2 still deserves its status as a first car staple.
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