It’s not a hot hatch, it’s a warm hatch. Big difference...
Get over yourself. Mazda has produced some of the most radical and exciting everyday-fun cars in the world since the 1990s. The MX-5 roadster is rightly the biggest-selling little open-topped sports car in history, the RX-7 coupé redefined how good a Japanese sports car could be and the RX-8 wrapped a high-revving rotary engine in a bonkers reverse-opening-rear-doors package.
And what’s this one?
This is the new baby of the family, the Mazda2. Previous Mazda2s have been twins of the Ford Fiesta (the cars were co-developed for many years) but this motor is all-Mazda now with Skyactiv technologies for weight-saving and snappy handling.
It’s a bit of a looker, isn’t it?
Oh aye. Previous Mazda2s looked like someone had inflated a baby dolphin, but this one takes the bold styling of its bigger siblings. The Mazda 6 saloon and CX-5 SUV are now very purposeful beasts with real street presence and this new 2 steps into the limelight with a manly confidence.
Has it been through a bodyshop?
Something like that. Mazda has thrown a lot of the hot-hatch visual cues at this machine and it really works. There are contrasting red and black alloys, red trim flashes on the bodywork and a fairly massive spoiler. The whole package generates a car you’re certainly not going to miss.
Does what’s under the bonnet deliver on the looks?
Well, here’s the question. Is this car the best of both worlds or writing visual cheques its engine can’t cash? It depends on your appetite for speed or looks. The engine is a mid-sized four-pot spitting out 113bhp. It’s sprightly, but there’s always a moment where you’re wanting that extra yard or two of pace to really kick it.
Indeed. True hot hatches these days would be embarrassed not to start at 180bhp. But that’s the point of this car. For now, this is the fastest of the new Mazda2 family, until Mazda do an MPS version with their sporty sub-brand, which they must if they’re to do justice to the sweet chassis.
How chuckable is it?
Very. Mazda has spent a lot of time reducing weight in the car so it’s more efficient, but that also means that you can fling it about more easily. It’s also got a new system that massively reduces flex in the car so it stays straight and true and rights itself quickly when hoofing round corners. Ford’s Fiesta probably still has the slight edge in handling, but this is a car that you can point and flick very precisely and it’s a ton of fun.
Is it all plastic fantastic inside?
Hell, no. Mazda has gone to town on the interior and it’s a triumph. There’s a real sporty feel that makes every moment special. There might not be a tiger under the bonnet, but there’s something of the Lambo about the interior. Seriously. It’s brilliantly put together, feels super-premium and – most important of all – has the traditional Mazda fuck-off-massive rev counter in front of the driver. Mazda isn’t shy of its sporty heritage.
What does it say about me?
That you’re a smart guy who values style over points on your licence. Or you’re wussing out and should get yourself a proper hot hatch. We’ll let the pub argument settle that one.
Should I buy one?
The new Mazda2 that’s under all the kit is great and will definitely keep you interested as an everyday car. But if you’re looking for power, keep walking or wait until Mazda’s boffins unleash some proper mayhem under the bonnet. Soon, please.
_ Words: Conor McNicholas _