The well-specified Mazda2 flagship is the only turbodiesel automatic in the compact hatchback segment and that status is reflected in its price tag. Should you consider this top-of-the-range model? Read on...
We like: Specification, build quality, low consumption, slick infotainment system
We don’t like: firmer ride, turbo lag from standstill, only two airbags provided
- For better economy: The (manual) Volkswagen Polo 1.4TDI Highline is the closest rival. The Polo has an identical power output but produces fractionally more torque and has a lower claimed consumption figure than the Mazda.
- For better value: The (manual) Ford Fiesta 1.5TDCi Trend is considerably cheaper than the Mazda (and Volkswagen), but is down on power, torque and specification.
How does it fare in…
... Performance and Economy?
Compact, frugal and fun to drive the Mazda2 Hazumi offers plenty of appeal.
The 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel engine is impressive. As expected, the engine sounds clattery when you start it up first thing in the morning, but it soon settles down and you don't hear that typical diesel chatter in the cabin. As far as powerplant refinement is concerned, this one is pretty good.
Let’s talk numbers. The engine, which delivers 77 kW and 220 Nm, drives the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. All the torque is available at 1 500 rpm, so if you’re gentle with the accelerator pedal to avoid the gearbox unnecessarily changing down, the Mazda2 will go about its business without the need for its engine to work hard at all.
What does this mean in the real world? Well, you're not in for punishment at the pumps. A six-speed automatic ‘box in a vehicle such as this is programmed to change down a gear when the driver accelerates hard. The Mazda2's power delivery characteristics require a period of driver familiarisation, but when you get that restrained driving style nailed down, the fuel economy on offer is quite startling.
Mazda claims 4.4 L/100 km, which is a difficult, but not impossible, economy figure to achieve. In traffic, we saw an indicated figure of 5.5 L/100 km, but on the open road, we effortlessly got the consumption figure down to 4.5 L/100 km. Drive gently and you’ll see that 44-litre tank emptying after a lengthy 900 km of driving. For the record, because of this derivative's low (claimed) fuel consumption figure, the 1.5 DE Hazumi is exempt from the government's CO2 tax.
... Ride and Drive?
The front-wheel-driven Mazda2 offers a relaxed and refined drive. Open-road cruising is its strong suit, but the little Mazda is not out of its depth in the ridiculous stop-start highway traffic jams that fill the daily grind. The transmission is happy in both scenarios, but we did notice that the 1.5 DE Hazumi felt a little underpowered at pull aways. Once you’re moving and out of first gear, the power delivery feels decidedly more urgent.
One of this particular Mazda2's best characteristics is its combination of high torque and a light overall mass. Whether you’re overtaking at 60 kph or 115 kph, the engine has ample grunt on offer. With 220 Nm on tap and a transmission that’s eager to kick down a ratio or two, it can dispatch slower traffic with ease. If you’re in the mood, you can tap the gear selector into manual mode and you’ll be able to change gears by simply knocking the lever up or down.
The ride is on the firm side due to the Mazda's suspension setup and 16-inch alloy wheels wrapped in relatively low-profile rubber. On smooth tarmac, you’ll be very happy with the smoothness, but the "2" can feel a trifle too stiff over bumpy surfaces compared with a Volkswagen Polo. Still, there is an upside... The firmness translates into excellent agility and body control (should you be the type of driver that appreciates an enthusiastic drive along a twisty road).
... Space and Practicality?
Centre analogue speedometer is flanked by digital rev counter (left) and digital trip computer data (right).
Sit inside the Mazda2 and you’ll likely find the design of the minimalist dashboard quite unconventional – at least at first glance. While most cars have two dials dominating the instrument cluster, the Hazumi has a central speedometer with two digital gauges on either side. The one on the left is the rev counter, while the screen on the right relays trip computer data. These screens are legible during most driving conditions, but less so in bright sunlight.
The entire cabin feels well built and there are premium touches dotted across the facia. The seats in this flagship model are upholstered in cloth and (partial) leather and proved comfortable on long journeys. The driver's seat is height adjustable, while the steering column is adjustable for rake and reach. The steering wheel features radio controls, trip computer buttons as well as voice command controls.
The centrepiece of the cabin is the tablet-like infotainment display. It’s controlled by a rotary selector dial located close to the handbrake. While it's initially a bit fidgety to use, you soon learn where the buttons are and by the end of the test period, we were able to correctly select the right functions without taking our eyes off the road. It's a big-car feature that contributes to this little Mazda's overall premium feel.
The luggage bay offers reasonable space and is on par with its rivals in the segment. Lift up the boot cover and you’ll see there’s a space-saver spare wheel as standard. The rear seats can be folded down to increase luggage space. Speaking of the rear seats, they offer just about enough legroom for small children, but are a tight squeeze for adults.
... Standard features?
Given the relatively high asking price, you’d expect the 1.5 DE Hazumi to come with a high level of specification – and it does. Climate control, start/stop technology, dynamic stability control, a pair of SB ports, a CD player, smart infotainment system, keyless access, auto wipers and -headlamps, partial-leather trim as well as satellite navigation are all included. Unfortunately, our unit was missing the satnav's SD card so we couldn’t use that functionality. Your local Mazda dealer will charge you R5 500 for a new one, so don’t lose it!
While the flagship Hazumi gains stability control as a safety feature, the entire Mazda2 range falls short in the airbag department. Rivals have between four and six airbags, while the Mazda2 can only muster a pair, one each for the driver and passenger.
Given the rather excellent open-road ability, we’re disappointed to see that cruise control isn’t available for the Mazda2, even as an option.
Minimalist interior with smart infotainment system. Controls are initially fiddly, but over time you'll get used to them.
Mazda2 price range in South Africa
The Mazda2 range starts at R198 500, with this Hazumi costing R278 900. You get a three-year unlimited kilometre warranty with it, and there’s a three-year unlimited kilometre service plan with 15 000km service intervals.
Being the only diesel automatic in the segment makes the Mazda2 Hazumi a stand-out offering. The derivative's build quality, refinement and specification are definite positives, and the drive is generally very good indeed. The cabin feels modern and sturdy; the materials used are upmarket. Despite our test unit having 10 000 km on the clock, there were no rattles or squeaks whatsoever, which is a testament to the excellent build quality. The automatic transmission offers relaxed driving and the fuel economy returns certainly help offset the initial price. So, in conclusion, if you want this particular combination of talents, nearly R280k is the price you'd have to pay. We hasten to add, however, that you'd be getting a very good little car.
Mazda2 1.5 DE Hazumi quick facts
Interested in a Mazda2? Check out our buying advice video:
Perhaps the 1.5 Dynamic model would suit your budget... Read our Mazda2 1.5 Dynamic (2015) Review
Looking to buy a new/used Mazda2? Search for one on Cars.co.za