The venerable Mazda2 has been on the scene in its current guise for almost a decade. In this, its ninth year, it’s been upgraded with a new front and rear end treatment, updated colours, more safety and like most competitors, a price increase.
It remains a polished option, particularly in the tested Airstream Blue hue, one of the fresh choices. It’s actually a metallic colour, although it looks more like a flat grey on initial glances, and really is quite lovely when it catches the sun.
If it’s not for you though, don’t worry, there are eight other shades to choose from. Regardless, it’s complemented by polished aluminium and black 16-inch alloy wheels that ride on 185/60 Dunlop Enasave tyres.
Tested here in GT form, it retails for $26,490 plus on-roads (or just shy of $32K drive away). It’s at the top end of the pricing spectrum for small cars, but the ace up its sleeve is an extensive list of standard equipment for the spend.
Touching a button on the door handle allows access to a pretty slick looking cabin. Dark grey and black trims are offset with red highlights throughout, even on the seats. Those are wrapped in a combination of faux suede and leather which also extends to the dash.
It’s not meant to be a luxury car, but the interior feels very upmarket for a car of this size. Apparently a centre armrest is an optional extra, and that’s a box this writer would be ticking quickly.
Aside from that omission, the seats are comfortable and overall, the cabin is a pleasant place to be. The rear seats are strictly a child-only proposition though, unless the driver is vertically challenged, but this is understandable given the size of chassis.
Boot space is commensurate to the vehicle size, with 250-litres of load area when the seats are up, and much more with them folded flat. Interior spots are a little limited, with the glove box being the principal safe space.
It’s supplemented with open spaces in the centre console and reasonably deep door pockets, although finding a position where an iPhone 14 Pro didn’t want to slide onto the floor proved a challenge.
Where the Mazda2 cannot hide its age is in the on-board technology. The flip-up head-up display is the start (although it’s a nice touch), but we couldn’t really let go of the 7.0-inch infotainment system.
It has wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto paired to a 6-speaker sound system. It produces decent audio. The issue is the only time the screen can be used to control anything by touch is when the car is at a standstill.
On the fly, there is a small rotary joystick that is flanked by a range of buttons to navigate the screen. Once you’ve used it, things do get a little easier, but at 183cm, this driver felt like it was set too far back, and ultimately proved to be an unnecessary irritation.
There is some merit to keeping a young driver, a plausible owner for such a car, from playing with the screen when on the move, but we can’t help but feel that the option is more of a distraction.
Hitting the start button fires up the 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, which sends power to the front wheels through a 6-speed automatic gearbox. There is a manual option available, but it is reserved for the base Pure grade.
It’s a proven drivetrain; producing 81kW of power and 142Nm, and does an admirable job of moving the 1,109kg it weighs, around. It does get a little noisy further up in the rev range unfortunately – an issue that could have been solved with more firewall deadening.
This harshness is accentuated by a gearbox that is programmed to find the highest gear as quickly as possible, then fumble for lower gears when there is a need to speed up. Despite this annoyance, shifts are velvet smooth and the engine is willing.
This calibration is a shame as it dampens a mechanical combination that can confidently mow down the kilometres on the freeway under radar cruise control, without too much fuss. It’s a little thirsty at 7.4-litres/100km (real world) to a claimed 5.3-litres/100km.
We would presume many who opt for a car of this size would factor fuel economy quite heavily, so this number is a little disappointing. Ride quality is good, with a soft but controlled suspension tune that combined control over bumps, with comfort in the cabin.
This isn’t supposed to be a sports car, but like most Mazda’s this writer has experienced, the steering feel and turn-ability of the chassis is sweet. Pleasingly, the sum of all parts makes this car feel much more poised and grounded than its size would suggest.
The Mazda2 GT is also packed with a commendable array of safety features, including a 360-view monitor, blind spot monitoring, emergency brake assist, lane keep assist, rear cross traffic alert and emergency stopping.
It ensures all occupants ride in a car that will do its best to prevent accidents, and protect them if the worst were to happen.
Combined this with a 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty and 5-years roadside assistance, and the Mazda2 could be just the ticket as a first car, or a feature packed inner-city vehicle. You can find out more on the Mazda Australia website.
If you’re keen on one and need finance, talk to CreditOne.
Our test vehicle was provided by Mazda Australia. To find out more about the 2024 Mazda2 GT, contact your local Mazda dealer.