Mazda 2 1.3 TS2 3dr (2008) review

Published:05 June 2008

Mazda 2 1.3 TS2 3dr (2008) review
  • At a glance
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5

The Mazda 2 was a breath of fresh air when it launched in 2007. Its clever design and careful reduction in mass pointed to a lighter, hence cleaner, and also more entertaining future for the segment. Now that Mazda has launched a three-door ‘2’, does the good news continue?

So, does losing a pair of doors make the ‘2’ even lighter?

Yes, by 10kg on this 1.3 litre TS2 model, taking the kerbweight down to a very commendable 950kg. Think about that: that figure is for a car with a five-star NCAP rating (albeit it’s only the five-door model that’s been tested so far), six airbags, air conditioning, plus a respectable little stereo with MP3 compatibility and an aux socket as standard. There are superminis that weigh easily 200kg more than that. Bravo Mazda.

You’d expect the three-door to be sportier in looks than the five-door – business as usual here?

Correct again: the three-door is more rakish in profile, with a steeply rising beltline and narrow rear side glass. Very zoom-zoom. Naturally the doors are now longer, providing access to an intimate feeling, but far from cramped cabin; that’s one of the real surprises with this car. There is in fact plenty of room, even on the rear bench and in the reasonable boot.

The only negative is the perceived quality of some of the plastics - it’s all a bit too shiny and brittle to the touch, unlike a Corsa. Nevertheless, if like me, you’re over six foot in height, you’ll really appreciate how you sit down ‘in’ the car, rather than ‘on’ it: it’s a fine, sporty driving position, despite the lack of reach adjustment on the ‘wheel.

Talking of the ‘wheel, the TS2 kit on this car includes a leather ‘wheel and stubby, high-mounted gearlever that look as if they’ve been nicked off an MX-5. That’s an encouraging sign…

Click 'Next' below to read our driving impressions of the Mazda 2 three-door

Sounds promising - does it drive as well as the five-door?

Don’t worry – absolutely. It takes mere yards once rolling to recognise the benefits of shedding those flabby pounds. The ‘2’ can afford to be softly sprung compared with bloated rivals, so there is a degree of initial body roll that communicates much of what is happening at the wheels, but it always settles rapidly and the overall body control is every good.

This car feels so light on its feet, changing direction immediately and always eager to follow inputs – especially mid-corner – from ‘wheel and throttle. The steering helps by including accuracy and reasonable feel along with the requisite lightness neccesary for a vehicle that will spend much of its time in city centres. 

The TS2 spec car brings a high-power version of the 1.3 litre MZR unit with 85bhp and 90lb ft of torque. It’s responsive, if hardly possessing any great fireworks as you might imagine, but there’s a nice sweet spot around 5000rpm. You do get to hear rather a lot of it’s thin, typically Japanese note though, which along with higher levels of wind and road noise and a low speed ride that’s on the taut side of comfortable means the ‘2’ cannot match the outright comfort of a Corsa or Clio.

Click 'Next' below to read our driving impressions of the Mazda 2 three-door

And I guess it’s fairly cheap to run too?

Mazda wants £9509 for this particular car, that’s about £1500 more than the low-power 1.3 but nearly two grand less than the 1.5 Sport. It’s also £500 cheaper than the equivalent five-door model. Claimed combined consumption is an excellent 52.3mpg, with a C02 output of just 129g/km and an insurance group of 4E – one more than the low-power car.

Verdict

So, the supermini choice of the moment? In many ways, yes, the only caveat being what your priorities are; the little Mazda’s definite character means it won’t suit everyone. Chiefly, if you’re going to be covering long distances, then the ‘2’ can’t match rivals such as the Vauxhall Corsa for refinement and that reassuring big-car conjuring trick. But despite what Vauxhall’s ad campaign would want you to believe, when it comes to fun there’s no contest. This Mazda is peppy, frugal, practical and downright enjoyable to drive: it’s a great little car.

Specs

Price when new: £9,509
On sale in the UK: Now
Engine: 1349cc 4-cyl, 85bhp @ 6000rpm, 90lb ft @ 3500rpm
Transmission: Five-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Performance: 12.9sec 0-62mph, 107mph, 52.3mpg, 129g/km CO2
Weight / material: 950kg/steel
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 3855/1695/1475

Rivals

Other Models

Photo Gallery

  • Mazda 2 1.3 TS2 3dr first drive CAR review: rear three-quarter photo
  • Mazda 2 1.3 TS2 3dr first drive CAR review: front three-quarter photo
  • Mazda 2 1.3 TS2 3dr first drive CAR review: interior photo
  • Mazda 2 1.3 TS2 3dr first drive CAR review: side photo
  • Mazda 2 1.3 TS2 3dr first drive CAR review: interior photo
Comments