► New GT Sport trim adds appeal
► Well under a tonne without driver
► Under £17,000 for top-spec model
Allergic to turbos but need a nippy, affordable supermini? This is your car.
Following the demise of the naturally aspirated Suzuki Swift Sport, the 113bhp 1.5-litre Mazda 2 is the most powerful turbo-free supermini we can think of. And no, the BMW i3 doesn’t count.
Mazda 2: low power, but even lower weight means strong performance
Crucially this Mazda is lightweight, too. Shed luggage and driver, and this 2 variant weighs just 970kg, meaning even its meagre horsepower tally is enough to punt it to 62mph in 8.7 seconds.
A Toyota Yaris with practically the same sized engine and power, meanwhile, requires an additional three seconds to lumber its way to 62mph. Even with 150hp on tap, the Vauxhall Corsa still can’t match the featherweight Mazda.
The 2 is also reasonably light on your wallet, at £16,995 for the range-topping GT Sport model, with similarly palatable monthly costs. So is it a bargain warm hatch?
Beefed up Mazda 2 GT Sport gains sharper looks and more kit
As befits its range-topping billing, Mazda has stuffed the GT Sport 2 with equipment, including sat-nav, heated leather seats and a reverse parking camera.
You also get suspension and steering tweaks for greater ride comfort and a sharper response from behind the wheel. The 113hp flagship is only available with a six-speed manual gearbox and GT Sport trim. This includes:
- 16-inch alloy wheels
- LED headlights
- Active Driving Display head-up display
- Black leather seats with brown accents
- Heated front seats
- Reverse parking camera
Other recent additions to the 2 range include the addition of ‘G-Vectoring Control’, which claims to offer more balanced roadholding by momentarily retarding the ignition spark to reduce engine torque when the steering wheel is turned, thus subtly shifting weight onto the front tyres. More on that here.
There’s also improved refinement courtesy of extra sound insulation all around.
Can the 2 beat the softer new Fiesta in the bends?
Mazda has been busy fiddling with the 2’s steering and suspension, so you’d expect it to feel like a new car – it doesn’t. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, however.
Our 2 faced the challenging hydrangea-strewn hillsides of the Azores – a world that looks like a cross between the Alps, Jurassic Park and the more vertiginous corners of Scotland – and in some respects its road manners fell a little short.
The steering is direct, though lacking some of the old-school heft you might hope for. Drivers who are likely to value its turbo-free nature may find it’s not quite as satisfying to steer as they might hope.
Pitch it into a bend, however, and despite soft suspension, the lightweight 2 is fun to thread between turns. With little torque to trouble the tyres and a frankly ridiculous 229kg less lard than the equivalent Vauxhall Corsa to haul around, it flits from corner to corner nimbly.
The suspension is mostly smooth, and where bumps do make themselves felt, the 2 tends to skip over them rather than being thrown off course.
Large turboless engine offers surprising muscle
Helping to make the 2 feel fast off the line is a MX-5-aping short-throw six-speed gearbox. The 1.5-litre lump picks up reasonably well from low revs and the stubby little gearlever skips between gears quickly.
Despite the unforgiving contours of the Azores, the 113bhp motor and six-speed combo punts the 2 merrily along. No matter how hard you work it, the engine feels eager, with the lack of torque somewhat masked by much shorter gearing than less powerful five-speed 2s.
Unlike some six-speeders where sixth simply sits above the other gears, as a kind of overdrive, all of the 2’s ratios are acceleration-boostingly short.
Keep the revs up and it’s easy to maintain a good pace, though the skinny, resolutely unsporty tyres quickly reach their limits. Keen drivers might want to search for some more serious rubber.
The 2 is defined by what it doesn’t have, rather than what it does have. Less weight, less cost and no forced induction make it an unusually engaging supermini to drive.
With just enough punch from under the bonnet, a snappy gearbox and ultimate-hire-car-style handling – this is no criticism – plus plenty of standard kit, the range-topping 2 is well worth £17k.
It may not be the obvious choice, but if you want a nippy, analogue-feel, good-value supermini, this could well be it.