Mazda’s standout little hatch tested

This little hatchback has been a hit with Australians for years, and the latest version adds a sporty look to the impressive package.

Small cars are big on features these days, but you’ll pay for the privilege. We find out if the Mazda2 SP Pure is worth adding to your shopping list.

VALUE

Mazda’s lineup of four-level compact hatchbacks starts at around $24,900 drive-away for the base Mazda2 Pure and goes up to around $30,000 for the top-spec GT version. We tested the Pure SP at $27,500, the second rung on the scale.

It’s pricey, but the days of sub-$20,000 hatchbacks pitched to first-time car buyers are over – only emerging brands like China’s MG play in that space.

The SP adds a touch of sporty styling to the 2. It has 16-inch black alloy wheels, black exterior highlights, chrome exhaust and black cloth seats with contrasting red stitching.

A seven-inch center screen is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and has Bluetooth connectivity and digital radio.

Mazda covers its cars with a five-year/unlimited km warranty and maintenance is capped at $1,702 over five years.

COMFORT

The Mazda2 is small inside, even compared to its rivals, but there’s enough manual adjustment in the driver’s seat for most people to find a comfortable seat, while the leather-wrapped steering wheel can be adjusted for range.

The rear seat is tight and best used for shorter trips. There are no rear air vents or charging points. A pair of USB charging ports and a 12V outlet serve the front row. The hatchback trunk is very small at 250 litres, but sedan buyers will be pleasantly surprised by the large 440-litre trunk, which will swallow a set of golf clubs.

A well-sorted suspension helps smooth out bumps and imperfections in the road, but you’ll feel the biggest potholes as it struggles to control the car.

Tire roar and engine noise can be intrusive, but no more so than other small hatchbacks.

SECURITY

Safety is Mazda’s forte. There is a long list of standard equipment that dwarfs much more expensive machines.

The 2 will automatically brake if it detects a potential collision with a car or pedestrian and will pull on the steering wheel to keep you in your lane if you wander. Sensors will also detect vehicles in your blind spot and trigger the alarm if a car approaches from the side when backing up.

Other safety equipment includes six airbags and a rear view camera with parking sensors.

CONDUCT

The 2 isn’t meant to be a performance car, so frugality is the name of the game.

Power comes from a 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine developing 82kW and 144Nm. It feels zipped in traffic, but can feel coarse when accelerated.

The 2 is one of the most dynamic small sedans. It has smooth steering and decent body control, making it a fun companion for a twisty road.

On the highway, it feels stable and planted, but you’ll have to bump it up to overtake.

Fuel consumption of 5.3 L/100 km is normal for the course, but it benefits from the fact that it only needs cheaper unleaded petrol.

OPINION 3.5/5

Safe, stylish and cheap to use, but its price pushes it out of the realm of most first-car buyers.

ALTERNATIVES

Toyota Yaris Ascent Sport, about $27,200 drive away

Expensive, but stuffed with safety features. Available in hybrid version.

Kia Rio GT-Line, $27,990 drive-away

Premium with a sporty touch and a class-leading seven-year warranty. Not as fun to drive.

MG3 Excite, $19,990

Cheap and cheerful, but poor crash protection, safety and handling.

MAZDA2 PURE SP VITALS

PRICE Approximately $27,500 by car

ENGINE 4-cylinder 1.5-litre petrol engine, 82 kW and 144 Nm

WARRANTY/MAINTENANCE Five years/unlimited km, $1702 over five years

SAFETY 6 airbags, automatic emergency braking, blind spot warning, lane keeping assist, rear cross traffic alert, reversing camera, parking sensors

THIRST 5.3L/100km

space saver

LUGGAGE 250L

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