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First drive: three-door Mazda 2

β€’ Three-door aims for young buyers
β€’ Three petrols, one diesel
β€’ From Β£7999

Words ByJim Holder

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Mazda wants its three-door Mazda 2 to appeal to young, trendy buyers.

So much so, that it's making a big deal of a tie-up with electro-rock band Infadels, whose track Can't Get Enough blares over television adverts for the car.

According to senior company officials, the song is 'trashy and trendy', just like the Mazda 2 - and if you're raising an eyebrow at the benefits of being described as trashy, you're probably too old to be in the target audience.

While the marketing men are going all-out to grab attention for what is undeniably a good-looking supermini, though, the canny car buyer may be more interested in a few technical details.

The three-door Mazda 2 shares the five-door version's dimensions, but gets smaller, sleeker rear windows to make it look sportier.

It weighs around 10kg less than the five-door model, too, which in turn is 100kg less than the previous-generation Mazda 2. That means that whatever engine you choose, the car is relatively light, frugal and agile.

Unsurprisingly, the three-door model also shares the five-door model's weaknesses. Road noise intrudes and, on poor motorway surfaces, it reaches a level that means you have to raise your voice to hold a conversation.

The stiff suspension that makes for such agile handling also has its drawbacks, as the car clatters and jars slightly over road imperfections

Diesel now available

The engine line-up is identical to the five-door's: 74bhp and 85bhp 1.3-litre petrols, a 102bhp 1.5-litre petrol and - now added to the range - a 67bhp 1.4-litre diesel.

If you opt for the diesel, which is set to go on sale imminently, you'll wipe out about 20kg of the weight savings.

The engine is a useful addition to the range, though, offering smooth, refined motoring and plenty of low-down pull that should suit city-based motorists.

It's capable on motorways too, although the 0-62mph time of 15.5sec means that joining the road or overtaking needs careful planning.

However, along with the similarly average performance of the petrol engines, it also highlights why Mazda is keener to promote the car's image rather than zippyness to attract younger buyers.

More attractive for money-conscious buyers are the economy figures: the diesel emits 114g/km of carbon dioxide and averages 65mpg. That means it's one road tax band below the three petrol units and averages 13mpg more than the best of them.

In the cabin

Despite its low weight and compact size, the Mazda 2 is surprisingly spacious, even in three-door trim.

Far-sliding front seats and wide-opening door makes access to the rear relatively fuss-free, and once in, there's just about room for two six-foot adult passengers to travel in comfort over long distances. Taking a fifth passenger is possible, but they'd best be small if you want to travel far.

Mazda says that shoulder room has been slightly reduced on the three-door model, although it's not really an issue. Headroom, though, is tight for six-footers.

The boot isn't deep and does have a large lip, but it makes up for this by being deep, offering a vast secret storage space below the carpet.

The driving position is compromised, because the steering wheel only adjusts for height, but the raised gearstick is a nice touch and the dash layout is fuss-free, even if it is dominated by hard plastics that are more durable than stylish.

Pricing

The three-door model is Β£500 cheaper than the equivalent five-door across the range, meaning prices start at Β£7999. The three-door diesel starts at Β£8999.

Although we'd err towards spending the extra money on the more practical five-door, it's true that the three-door model is the more stylish (or should we say trashy and trendy) of the two, giving it youth appeal.