Mazda2 1.3 TS2 5dr

Mazda2, front
Mazda2, side
Mazda2, rear
Mazda2, interior

THE Mazda2 was recently given a mid-life makeover - well more of a tweak really - to help keep it fresh in an intensely competitive supermini sector where 30 rivals are looking to capture the car buyer's buck.

Always a smart looking supermini, the exterior is polished up rather than redesigned with a wider front bumper, narrow upper grille and new foglight surrounds added to bring it in line with the rest of the Mazda family.

One thing unaltered is the fact this supermini is an eye-catcher from every angle.

The designers have also got to work under the skin to smooth over some perceived rough edges.

So the revamped Mazda2's ride is softened through a retuned suspension - but not at the expense of its excellent handling characteristics thanks to a stiffer bodyshell.

It is an extremely neat performer on the road - adept at country lanes as well as being reasonably comfortable on long motorway jaunts.

The model is still a Kate Moss rather than a Vanessa Feltz when it comes to weight so the 1.3-litre petrol model I tried felt nippy away from the lights although with a 0-62mph time north of 13 seconds it's never going to set anyone's hair on fire.

That said it does have a refreshingly sporty growl without ever threatening to burst the ear drums and the five-speed manual gearbox is neat and accurate.

The supermini is also available with a 74bhp version of the 1.3-litre engine as well as 1.5-litre petrol and 1.6-litre diesel power units.

All the engines have been revised to comply with the Euro V emissions standard and Mazda has ensured all offer improved economy and lower carbon dioxide emissions - even the petrol models are placed in low road tax bands.

Potential buyers venturing into a Mazda showroom will find that prices are competitive - and when they're looking for a new car then resale values are strong.

There are four trim levels with Mazda adding one called Tamura to the established TS, TS2 and Sport models. It includes 16-inch alloy wheels, a styling pack and halogen headlights in the mix.

The TS2 version is well equipped with air conditioning, remote central locking, electric front windows, a CD-radio system, and steering-wheel mounted controls plus alloy wheels.

The range-topping Sport model gets extras such as cruise and climate control, electrically operated rear windows and mirrors, plus automatic wipers and headlights.

Everything in the cabin is logically set out in an easy-to-use layout with chunky rotary heater dials and clearly labelled stereo buttons.

It is all well constructed maintaining Mazda's reputation for building cars that last - particularly as the plastics and fabrics used should stand the test of time.

The driver gets good all-round visibility, a comfortable position behind the steering wheel and a high-mounted gearlever that avoids contact with anyone's knees, whether it be driver or front seat passenger.

There is plenty of room for four adults with five able to be squeezed in at a push. The boot manages to cope with a family's weekly supermarket shopping trip although it is by no stretch of the imagination a cavernous space.

FAST FACTS

Mazda2 1.3 TS2 5dr

Price: £11,170

Mechanical: 83bhp, 1,349cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 5-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 106mph

0-62mph: 13.6 seconds

Combined MPG: 55.4

Insurance Group: 11

C02 emissions: 119g/km

Bik rating: 10%

Warranty:3yrs/ 60,000 miles

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