2023 Mazda 2 Hybrid review

The Mazda 2 Hybrid shares the looks, hybrid tech and efficiency of the Toyota Yaris, but should you buy one instead? We've driven it to find out.....

Mazda 2 Hybrid front cornering

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In Dungeons and Dragons, the Mimic is a creature that can shape-shift into any object and become nearly indistinguishable from the real thing. Indeed, only a keen eye and a good dice roll will prevent you from being eaten by a Mimic that looks like a treasure chest.   

The same could almost be said for the Mazda 2 Hybrid and the practically identical Toyota Yaris it's based on. Okay, neither of these small cars is likely to try to eat you, but it’ll take a sharp eye for detail to tell the pair apart. In fact, you’ll find more joy separating the existing Mazda 2 (which remains on sale) and the 2 Hybrid.

That begs the question: why would Mazda have two quite different models with the same name? Well, where the standard Mazda 2 can only be had with a mild-hybrid or pure petrol engine, the 2 Hybrid is the result of a partnership with Toyota and is a full hybrid car that doesn’t require you to plug in whenever you want to charge it up.

Mazda 2 Hybrid right driving

It’s the same engine you’ll find in the Yaris, which is really good news because that car recorded one of the best efficiency figures ever achieved in our True MPG testing. In fact, it was only beaten by the Toyota Yaris Cross small SUV. 

While that all sounds rather great, it’s hard to ignore the elephant in the room: if the 2 Hybrid just borrows everything that makes the Yaris great, why not just buy that? Also, while the 2 Hybrid promises strong efficiency, should you instead go for something completely different, like the Ford Fiesta or Honda Jazz? Let’s find out...

What’s it like to drive?

Regardless of which trim you go for, the 2 Hybrid is only available with a three-cylinder petrol engine that’s helped out by two electric motors. In total, they creates 114bhp, and while that doesn’t look that impressive on paper, in practice, it's actually pretty nippy. 

You see, the hybrid system provides instant power from the electric motor when you put your foot down, eliminating the delay you can get from a conventional engine or gearbox when setting off from stationary. It’s quite impressive how quickly it jumps off the line, and while the official 0-62mph sprint of 9.7sec is slightly slower than the more powerful Fiesta Ecoboost 125, we doubt it’ll leave you wanting when you need a sudden burst of pace.

Mazda 2 Hybrid rear cornering

Like the Yaris, the 2 Hybrid’s power is fed to the front wheels through a CVT automatic gearbox which, while responsive at pretty much any speed, causes the revs to soar and keeps them there until you ease off the accelerator. That can make for a fair amount of noise when you’re climbing a steep hill or getting up to motorway speeds. 

Happily, outside of those situations, the hybrid system means you won’t have to constantly floor the accelerator pedal to make good progress. In fact, you can run on electricity alone for a few miles, boosting efficiency and making for near-silent driving at slower speeds. As we’ve said, the 2 Hybrid charges its battery as you drive along with the engine running, so you don’t need to plug it in like you would a plug-in hybrid (PHEV). 

Mazda 2 Hybrid alloy wheel detail

Depending on which trim you go for, the 2 Hybrid comes with either 15in or 16in wheels. So far, we’ve only tried it on the largest wheels, but even with those it rides perfectly well. True, it’s on the firmer side of things, but it doesn’t thud over potholes and remains settled over undulations.

It doesn’t jostle you around in your seat as much as the Yaris does (which can be had with even larger wheel sizes), but it still isn’t a patch on the smoothest riding car in the class, the VW Polo

Mazda 2 Hybrid interior dashboard

That rival will handle better on a twisty road, too, especially with the optional sports suspension equipped. That’s not to say that the 2 Hybrid is out of sorts when you want to have some fun on a winding road – it's tidy enough with a reasonable amount of grip – it’s just that rivals including the Polo and Fiesta have more naturally weighted steering and less body lean through faster corners. 

What’s it like inside? 

If you’ve sat inside the latest version of the Yaris, you’ve also sat inside the 2 Hybrid: the only difference between the two is the badge placed in the centre of the steering wheel.

That’s not such a bad thing. You see, like the Yaris, the 2 Hybrid has proper physical buttons, switches and dials for everything, from the air-con controls to the shortcuts around the infotainment screen. We much prefer that to the system you’ll find in most versions of the Polo, which requires you to faff about with touch-sensitive buttons or delve into the touchscreen to make simple changes.

Mazda 2 Hybrid interior front seats

Speaking of touchscreens, the 2 Hybrid comes with a 7.0in touchscreen if you go for the entry-level Pure trim or an 8.0in one if you go for one of the other trims. All versions come with DAB radio, Bluetooth, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring. There a ‘nav’ shortcut button, but no version gets built-in sat-nav – the button links to whichever navigation app you’re mirroring from your phone. 

Regardless of which trim you go for, the operating system is the same clunky system with dated graphics you’ll find in the Yaris, so you’ll want to take full advantage of the smartphone mirroring. If you opt for the top-spec Select trim, you’ll also get wireless phone-charging and a head-up display. 

Thanks to the 2 Hybrid's small size and narrow front and rear window pillars, you have good visibility all round and it's easy to place the car where you want it on the road. For more help when parking, all trims except entry-level Pure come with a rear-view camera. Select trim adds front and rear parking sensors.

Mazda 2 Hybrid back seats

 Technology aside, it’s easy to get comfortable in any 2 Hybrid because they all come with plenty of manual adjustment to the driver’s seat and steering wheel, and enough head and leg room up front for a pair of six-footers. It’s just a shame that you can’t have adjustable lumbar support with any version, even as an option.

Space in the rear is sufficient rather than generous, so there’s enough space to fit a couple of your tallest friends back there but they’d be comfier if they were sitting in the back of the Jazz or Polo. We’d especially recommend one of those rivals if you often use all three of the rear seats.

Next: Mazda 2 Hybrid verdict and specs >>

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