Driven: Mazda2 1.5 Hazumi
Our last experience with the Mazda2 left the AutoAdvisor team rather impressed with the Japanese supermini. In the highly competitive B-segment, The 2 fades into the background while cars like the Polo, Fiesta and Clio take the spotlight. It’s certainly not because it’s a bad car - far from it, in fact. Mazda has given its smallest offering a facelift, improving on what was already an accomplished product.
Subtle exterior updates modernise the styling; the aggressive front end design freshened up with a reworked radiator grille and LED headlamps. The cheeky rear has gained updated taillamps which look classy and modernise the styling from behind. Our test unit, painted in Soul Crystal Red Metallic, attracted plenty of attention as the gorgeous paintwork shone in the Gauteng sun. Being the range-topping Hazumi derivative, it also receives a set of new 16-inch alloy wheels.
Just one engine choice remains with the current range - and that’s no bad thing; it’s a brilliant powertrain. With 85 kW and 148 Nm of torque, it has received a small power bump when compared to the old model (82 kW and 145 Nm). The 1.5-litre, naturally-aspirated four-cylinder motor works well with the six-speed automatic gearbox, which shifts smoothly and without agitation. It’s worth noting that if you purchase the Hazumi, an automatic transmission is your only choice.
Not that performance is of great importance in a car like this, but the Mazda2 can reach 100 km/h in just 10.4 seconds (claimed). It doesn’t sound particularly blistering, but the supermini feels quick and brisk on the road. The engine feels responsive and provides perfectly adequate performance for the daily commute. What’s more - for a car of this size - it exhibits superior road holding and refinement. On the highway, it soaks up the bumps and road irregularities with ease and remains nicely hushed. Fuel economy deserves a mention, too - Mazda claims the 2 uses just 6.0L/100 km. Over our time with the Hazumi, we managed to average 6.4 L/100 km in mixed driving.
It handles rather well, too. Through the corners, the littlest Mazda shows a desire to attack the bends and curves with panache. It’s no hot hatch, but steering feedback and grip shows dynamic adeptness.
Inside, the cabin of the Mazda can feel a touch cramped - especially for taller passengers. When compared with, for example, the VW Polo there’s a distinct lack of rear headroom. It’s not cramped, however, and will hold kids and car seats with ease. The boot, sized at 280 litres, will swallow up luggage and groceries with minimal fuss. What you cannot complain about is the comfort, quality and standard equipment. Being the halo-model, the Hazumi is blessed with a long list of features. A heads-up display, leather seats and trim, LED headlamps and keyless entry with push-button start are all included in the basic price of R368 900.
The seats deserve a special mention. Trimmed in an elegant blue leather, they look absolutely beautiful and offer plenty of adjustment. The hide-trimmed pews are comfortable and offer plenty of support. A colour-matched piece of leather can be found on the dashboard, too. Climate control and a host of other goodies are also fitted as standard.
As with Mazda’s current range, the build quality of the 2 is nothing to be scoffed at. There’s a real sense of high craftsmanship within the cabin and - despite the hard plastics - it imparts a real sense of solidity. This criticism of harder plastics can be levelled at any car in the segment, though. Perhaps the most interesting thing in the Mazda’s cabin is the MZD infotainment screen. Controlled by an old-school scroller, the 2 eschews the fashionable touchscreen for a more sensible knob. It may not be as modern, but it’s certainly safer to operate when on the move.
We can’t think of another segment that is filled with as much talent as the compact hatchbacks. Aside from the Polo and Fiesta, Opel’s Corsa and the new Peugeot 208 spring to mind. Citroen’s quirky C3 is also a worthy contender - and what’s more, Renault’s latest Clio is heading to SA soon. But the Mazda2 remains a compelling product that’s big on value, quality and luxury. While many will gloss over the little hatch from Japan, we’d say take a look before buying the ubiquitous offerings in the group.
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