So what’s all the fuss about then?
Weight, or in the case of the Mazda 2, a lack of it. CO2 emissions are the biggest issue for the car industry right now, and governments around the globe are seemingly obsessed with one single gas. It's a problem affecting everyone - from supercar manufacturers like Porsche to volume players like Mazda. For the past decade diesel engines have seemingly held the answer, but whilst they better petrol engines on CO2 emissions, they're much pricier to build and buy. Now manufacturers are rushing to play catch-up with their petrol engine technology, and many are downsizing and turbocharging. There is a third way, of course. Mazda's new 2 supermini is among the first of a growing breed: a new car that's lighter than the one it replaces. Lighter weight brings emissions and economy benefits - and also helps handling and performance. It's the 21st century's must-have car accessory.
So what’s Mazda been up to then?
The Japanese manufacturer is one of the first out of the blocks with a significant weight reduction to the new 2 supermini. Mazda claims it has trimmed 100kg from the kerb mass. We already knew that, but now Mazda has released details of exactly where and how it has removed the unnecessary heft. All of this is promising for Ford because the Mazda 2's platform will also underpin the next Fiesta, which we’ll see in concept form at the Frankfurt Motor Show.
So what’s the Mazda 2 lost?
Every area of the car has been thoroughly been optimised, and the only thing the 2 has gained is in its ability to entertain, as our first drive revealed. By making the car physically smaller (40mm shorter and 55mm lower), 22kg has been lost. This is made possible by modern CAD computer design and the use of high and ultra-high tensile steels, which have the subsequent effect of making the bodyshell stronger. Suspension changes, which include shorter rear trailing arms, have cut 13kg. Even smaller savings are important, though: different magnets in the door speakers have shaved 980g, while 690g has also been trimmed from the bonnet hinges. Shortening the wiring harness has cut 2.86kg. The motto? Every gramme counts.
What’s next for Mazda then?
Well we’ve already seen weight reduction in its MX-5 Roadster Coupe whose folding metal roof added 37kg to the kerbweight. The company is also continuing to develop hydrogen technology. Meanwhile, at Tokyo in October we’ll see the last of four concepts that Mazda has promised to release in 2007. So far we’ve seen the Nagare, Ryuga, and Hakaze. The Sassou concept shown in 2006 previewed the look of the new Mazda 2 so watch out for these cars having a serious influence over the look of future Mazdas.