There are three petrol engines - two 1.3-litre units with 74- or 83bhp, and a 101bhp 1.5. The 1.3s provide acceptable performance, but if you regularly drive on the motorway, the 1.5-litre engine is a better option. It delivers smooth and brisk acceleration, and never feels like it's straining, even at high revs. The 94bhp 1.6-litre diesel engine is flexible.
The 2 is one of the sharpest handling cars in its class to drive, thanks to its strong grip and body control, and its responsive steering. However, the ride is unforgivably bad. It hops and skips over even little bumps, and seems to want to pick a fight with every pothole it comes across. It loses every time.
The petrol engines sound satisfyingly sporty, without being intrusive. The diesel is quiet at low speeds, but gets more intrusive at motorway speeds. However, that’s nothing compared to the unacceptable amount of wind and road noise that’s generated at 70mph – this isn’t a car you’ll want to do long journeys in.
Prices are competitive, resale values are strong and all but the 1.5 dip below 120g/km, meaning affordable rates for road tax and company car tax. Even this engine, the thirstiest of the bunch, can average around 50mpg, while the most frugal, the diesel, get closer to 70mpg.
Mazda has a reputation for building cars that last, and the 2's cabin is constructed from sturdy materials with tightly fitting panel gaps. Most of the plastics are hard and unappealing to the touch, but they should wear the miles well. Mazda doesn't have the best record in customer satisfaction surveys, but the 2's reliability was rated as above average in the 2012 JD Power survey.
Things look good for high-end models, with all the safety kit you’d expect of a modern supermini. The entry-level model, though, is a different story – it misses out on side and curtain airbags, and there’s no stability control. Deadlocks, an alarm and an engine immobiliser make life difficult for thieves.
All-round visibility is decent, and the fuss-free dash layout mixes chunky rotary heater dials and clearly labelled stereo buttons. However, the driving position really should have more adjustment. You can crank your seat up and down, but the steering wheel only adjusts for height, not reach.
The Mazda 2 has space for four adults, but it’s nowhere near as roomy as the best superminis. The 250-litre boot is a little small for the class. The rear seats are fixed in the lower-trimmed cars, but fold forward to increase capacity to 787 litres in the other models.
Entry-level TS trim has remote locking and electric front windows, while there are no prizes for guessing what TS Air-Con models add. TS2 models have alloys and steering wheel audio controls, while Tamura models add a sporty body kit. Sport models add climate and cruise controls, plus automatic lights and wipers.
Order a brochure, find your nearest dealer or book a test drive
The Mazda 2 1.3 75 TS AC is a great all-round three-door supermini with excellent handling, well made cabin, decent interior and luggage space, and low running costs. If only it were a shade more refined.