What's the used Mazda 2 hatchback like?
Its engine range is the largest giveaway. Almost all modern small cars – the Ford Fiesta, VW Polo and Seat Ibiza to name a few – have at least one turbocharged unit in their line-up, while others have gone hybrid, like the Toyota Yaris.
Instead, ever since it arrived in 2015, the Mazda 2 has relied on a range of 1.5-litre engines. No turbochargers, no hybrids, although a 2019 facelift did introduce some mild-hybrid tech – these engines go by the name e-Skyactiv G. If you've heard of a hybrid Mazda 2, that would be the Mazda 2 Hybrid. It isn't related to the 2 in this review, because it's actually a Toyota Yaris with a Mazda badge on the front.
Early models are available with a 104bhp diesel unit. It's economical and provides semi-decent performance, but few buyers opted for it, leading to its demise in 2019. On the petrol front, you've always had a 74bhp, 89bhp and a 113bhp option to choose from – the latter two being the ones that gained mild-hybridisation, we should add.
Except for maybe that first petrol, those engines sound powerful enough. Well, although those figures align with those of the 2's rivals, these engines don't actually feel as quick as you might think. Plant your right foot low down in the rev range and little happens, especially at motorway speed. You need to rev these 1.5 units hard to get some go out of them, unlike you would with, say, a turbocharged Fiesta or Ibiza.
As such, you'll likely find yourself changing gear a lot. Fortunately, this isn't entirely a bad thing, because the 2 has a precise, short, satisfying manual gearshift. That said, automatic cars are available if that's your preference.
The 2's steering isn't quite as impressive. It isn't particularly sharp and it lacks feel. As for the driving experience as a whole, it isn't close to being as fun or playful as the Fiesta's, yet it can't match the comfort or quietness of the Polo.
However, the 2 does feel planted on the road and it grips well enough in the bends. The ride, while more firm than soft, soaks up bumps well, too.
The interior is a step up from your typical small car, bar the classier Skoda Fabia. The steering wheel and gearknob feature some good-quality leather, plus there are some soft-touch materials dotted around the place.
While some rivals have switched to burying key controls – such as climate control and menu shortcut buttons – within an overstuffed touchscreen, the 2 (minus the screen-less SE and SE+ trims) keeps things delightfully simple. You can use a rotary wheel and physical buttons to control its 7.0in touchscreen. These are easy to reach and operate while driving, not to mention the system itself is logically laid out and a doddle to use.
We mentioned the entry-level SE and SE+ there, but those are unlikely to be the trims you end up looking at because higher trims don't come at a premium (on the used market). At least, you'll be looking at SE-L and, fortunately, it isn't short on equipment. It gets DAB radio, Bluetooth and a USB input – sat-nav was a £400 option from new – not to mention climate control, cruise control and lane departure warning.
The Sport trim gains a sportier look, while GT Sport adds a rear-view camera, heated seats, head-up display and a heated steering wheel.
Practicality is a little lacking, with rear-seat space and boot space falling short of some of its small car rivals. The 2 isn't shockingly impractical by any stretch – and five doors coming as standard from new will be music to many people's ears – but if you regularly carry passengers or large items, you might want to look elsewhere.
What used Mazda 2 hatchback will I get for my budget?
Have a budget of at least £6000 if you're interested in a used Mazda 2. That'll get you a respectable 2015 model (in SE-L trim) that has less than 100,000 miles on its clock. For a facelifted 2019 example, you'll need upwards of £11,000. The 2 was once again facelifted for 2023, but you won't find many used examples out there (as of writing) and prices align with those of new Mazda 2s.
As we touched upon, diesel-engined 2s are much rarer than petrol ones, but if you do lots of motorway miles (and will subsequently benefit from its greater fuel economy), maybe consider spending the £7000 or so to get one.
Check the value of a used Mazda 2 with What Car? Valuations
How much does it cost to run a Mazda 2 hatchback?
The cheapest 2 to run is the 1.5-litre diesel, which can officially average 83.1mpg. This will be a tough figure to hit, mind you, especially as this figure relates to older, less accurate NEDC testing, rather than the current WLTP standard.
The 74bhp petrol officially returns 58.9mpg, while the 89bhp one is actually better on fuel, averaging 60.1mpg. The 113bhp unit should return 56.5mpg. These are all WLTP figures.
As of writing, any 2 registered after 1 April 2017 will cost you the current £180 (flat-fee) per year in road tax. Those registered before will be cheaper: the 74bhp and 89bhp petrol will set you back £20 per year respectively, while the 113bhp version a £35 fee per year. The diesel won't cost you anything to tax, because its CO2 emissions are below 100g/km.
Insurance and servicing
Most model variants have their insurance groups in the teens (out of 50), meaning it should be a relatively inexpensive car to insure.
Servicing costs are not quite as cheap as those of mainstream rivals, but they aren't the worst out there. You can buy a three-year service plan of the 2 from Mazda for £699.
Which used Mazda 2 hatchback should I buy?
Of your three petrol options, we recommend the 89bhp. You'll appreciate the extra performance over the sluggish 74bhp, but, in reality, you aren't missing out on much punch compared to the 113bhp unit. What's more, the 113bhp costs more to buy and will cost you more in fuel.
It's hard to justify going for the Mazda 2 diesel, mainly because there aren't many to choose from.
As we mentioned, SE-L cars are among the cheapest trims to buy, plus they get all the kit you need.
Our favourite Mazda 2: 1.5 89bhp SE-L
What alternatives should I consider to a used Mazda 2 hatchback?
The Ford Fiesta really ought to be included in the dictionary definition of a small car. Its drive, engine range, economy are all top of the class, with weaknesses being few and far between. The 2 is more reliable (according to our latest What Car? Reliability Survey), mind you.
The Seat Ibiza is more fun to drive than the 2, plus it's available with more powerful engines. Its interior doesn't quite live up to the 2's, though.