Welcome to the Jessica Alba of the vehicle world

A few years back new car buyers could be forgiven for leaving a Mazda off their list of potential purchases.It’s not that Mazda was producing bad cars but by the company’s own admission the brand had become “invisible” in South Africa since 2008 when 18000 units were sold. A lack of attention and an ever increasing pool of rivals were among the reasons for the slowdown of sales.

The All-New Mazda 2 followed the CX 5, Mazda 6 and Mazda 3 to become the fourth model and first subcompact that joined Mazda's lineup of new-generation vehicles.
The All-New Mazda 2 followed the CX 5, Mazda 6 and Mazda 3 to become the fourth model and first subcompact that joined Mazda’s lineup of new-generation vehicles.

But the past two years have seen a range of new offerings. Last year, SA sales reached 9066 units, up 84% from 4939 in 2014. That’s well below 2008, but growth came in a market that dipped 4.2% last year from 2014.

In the first six months of this year, Mazda sold 6312 units. The CX-5 and Mazda3 are two of the biggest sellers with 55% of sales volume combined, while the Mazda2 and newly introduced CX-3 take up just under 40% of sales volume combined.

The sporty looking and compact 2 competes in a tough segment against the likes of Ford Fiesta, Hyundai i20, Opel Corsa, VW Polo and Toyota Yaris. Where many of its rivals offer various engine options, one criticism of the Mazda 2 is that it is only available with either a 1.5 petrol or 1.5 diesel engine. The latter – the Mazda2 1.5DE – was recently given to Dispatch Motoring to review.

The third generation of the compact hatch is certainly the best
looking. The company said its development goal with the 2 was to inspire a new group of “youthful, forward-thinking customers”.

To reach it, Mazda created the Jessica Alba of the vehicle world – a car not only appealing to the eye from the outside, but on the inside too.

Around town the Mazda2 is a lot of fun to drive. The 1.5 diesel powerplant, which pushes out 77kW and 220Nm torque, generated enough oomf to ensure the nippy five-door hatch was built for the daily commute. That doesn’t mean it’s a slouch on the open road though, as it was able to easily propel the vehicle to the speed limit and more when needed.

I didn’t exactly drive it with a light foot while it was in my possession, yet the fuel consumption was an impressive 6.2-litres/100km.

The diesel is only available with a six-speed automatic transmission while the petrol versions come with a six-speed auto or six-speed manual transmission.

Designers and engineers working on the interior clearly aligned themselves with the “less is more” concept. The dash is cleared of buttons and now just features dials for the climate control and a seven-inch colour screen for the infotainment system.

The system includes Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio capability and internet radio integration.

It is controlled by a well-placed command dial located next to the handbrake, which allows you to scroll through the various functions quickly and easily.

Satellite controls have also been mounted on the steering wheel, but I barely used these in favour of the command dial.

Mazda Southern Africa distributes through 50 dealers, including Eastern Cape Motors in East London, a fact which should offer further motoring peace of mind to potential buyers thanks to the dealership’s longevity.

A three-year unlimited kilometre factory warranty, three-year roadside assistance and three-year service plan are included in the R286700 selling price.

I enjoyed the time I had with the Mazda2 and because there aren’t huge numbers on the road, owning one gives buyers a feeling of individuality compared to the more popular brands in this segment.

However, I’m not sure I’d opt for the diesel. The 1.5 Individual (manual/petrol) is nearly R60000 cheaper and the difference in claimed fuel consumption between the two is not that great – 5.3-litres/100km for the diesel against 6.6 for the petrol.

MODEL RANGE

Mazda2 1.5 Active: R204100

Mazda2 1.5 Dynamic: R216900

Mazda2 1.5 Dynamic Auto: R229200

Mazda2 Individual: R229300

Mazda2 Individual Auto: R241600

Mazda2 1.5DE Auto: R286700

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