Mazda2 1.5 Sport Nav

Mazda2, front static
Mazda2, side static
Mazda2, rear static
Mazda2, above with boats
Mazda2, dashboard
Mazda2, rear seats
Mazda2, boot

THINK about superminis and the Mazda2 doesn't necessarily spring to mind.

But it has been around now for around 20 years and the fourth generation is without doubt the best and up there challenging the likes of the Ford Fiesta.

The Mazda2 is a good-looking, well built, reliable small car with tax efficient engines. Not necessarily the cheapest, but it comes with an impressive array of standard equipment and Mazda's reputation for reliability.

I have to admit to being a fan having been on the launch of previous model back in the early noughties in Spain, when we got lost in the mountains. It peformed like an off-roader on some rough mountain tracks, which made me fond of the little car.

To say this model looks good is a no brainer. Its curvaceous, sculpted styling resembles its larger siblings the Mazda3 and Mazda6 and is nearly as good looking as the crossover CX-5 and CX-3, for me, the best looking in their class.

The Mazda mini features large front light clusters with deep grille and airscoop, while the neat rear end features horizontal light clusters.

The excellent styling continues with the interior, where it has a simple, yet sophisticated layout, high quality trim and well laid out controls. The binnacle has a single large dial, while the infotainment screen on this tested hi-spec model, sits at eye level in the middle of the dashboard and is controlled by a rotary dial next to the handbrake.

Also featured are multi-function steering wheel, while levers and dials have a satin type finish. It looks a more expensive car than it is.

Four occupants can be seated in comfort, with a fifth a tighter fit in the middle. Head and legroom is reasonable and what you would expect on this type of car.

This model cost £15,500 and carried a large level of standard kit, includingelectric windows, power steering, 16-inch alloys, smart keyless entry, privacy glass, reversing sensors, rain sensors, dusk sensors, climate control and as the name implies, integrated sat nav system with three years free European map upgrades.

There is a choice of a 1.5-litre petrol engine with three power outputs, and 1.5-litre diesel, with the 90ps petrol in this car proving an impressive performer.

For a relatively large, for the size of car, petrol engine economy is impressive while delivering decent enough economy, if nowhere near the official combined 62-odd mpg figure

. To get the best acceleration it has to be revved hard, but at no time feels raucous or unrefined. Emissions are on the low side at 105g/km, which means it is cheap on road and benefit in kind taxation.

Much of this economy is achieved through the lightweight body and Mazda's SKYACTIV technology where, says the firm,engines can compress the air-fuel mixture in the cylinders to an extraordinary degree, squeezing far more energy from every drop of fuel.

There's no doubt, this is anything but a thirsty motor. But it also delivers decent pace, with the car hitting 60mph in under 10 seconds.

Handling is decent enough the the car feeling well planted on sweeping bends and the steering responsive. Suspension is comfortable, but the car does become unsettled on lesser roads.

As a five-door hatch, this model is practical enough. Boot space is decent, if not class-leading with 280 litres with the rear seats in place. Fold the rear seats flat and the space opens up to decent 950 litres of space, ideal for ferrying those larger loads around.

FAST FACTS

Mazda2 1.5 Sport Nav

Price: £15,595

Mechanical: 105ps, 1,496cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 5-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 114mph

0-62mph: 9.4 seconds

Combined MPG: 62.8

Insurance Group: 16

C02 emissions: 105g/km

Bik rating: 18%

Warranty: 3yrs/62,137 miles

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