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Date: 18 Jun 2018 Author Type: Public Review
Author: Julian Lurie Edited by Liam Mothilall
Source: Julian Lurie
Mazda South Africa has in the past couple of years, launched a whole range of new products, including an all new Mazda2 sub-compact, which also adopts the ‘KODO—Soul of Motion’ design language and full range of SKYACTIV Technology. The Mazda2 range comprises seven variants - six petrol and one turbo-diesel, however Mazda South Africa has now increased the range with the addition of the new Mazda2 Individual Plus 1.5L Auto derivative which comes fully equipped with an array of enhancement features. These include; Shark-fin antenna, auto-fold mirrors, heads-up display, reverse camera, rear parking sensors as well as the lane departure warning system safety feature.

The design of the new Mazda2 is quite striking and carries the firm’s current distinctive design, with a prominent grille taking control of the front-end, eye-like headlights, gently sloping windscreen, front fog lamps and 16”alloy wheels which on the press vehicle were wrapped in Dunlop Sport 185/60R16 Radials. There’s also an emergency spare wheel under the boot board.

The interior design is a major step forward when compared to the previous model. Controls and read-outs are well positioned for easy use, with all instruments clearly visible through the top of the leather bound steering wheel. Three large knobs take care of the HVAC system, so there’s no searching through on-screen menus for fan and temperature settings. The multi-function 4-spoke steering wheel is loaded with Bluetooth, radio, and cruise control switches, with gear-change paddles behind. The gear shift knob and handbrake are leather wrapped, the headlamps have an auto on/off function, and there’s a rear window washer and wiper for the tailgate glass. Solid ergonomics such as the satellite navigation system are operated by a simple, central controller on the console, while the large, centrally positioned rev counter with a small digital speedometer, works well as the driver will mainly check his speed on the head-up display.

A 7-inch color touchscreen monitor is positioned in the center, at the top of the dashboard showing all data related to the infotainment system, including audio, phone connection, and the sound system. You can control the system either via the touch-screen, in which case scrolling around the various menus is extremely easy, or the rotary controller with a “click-‘n’-turn” wheel. The new Mazda2 has ample headroom at the front and rear. The front bucket seats with suede seat facings and leather bolsters are nicely shaped and comfortable, offering good thigh support and the driver’s seat is multi-adjustable. At the rear, however, leg space is a little scarce and things are a bit tight for tall passengers if the front seats are adjusted far back.

The 280 litre boot is generous for a small hatchback, and space can be further extended by folding down the split rear seat backrest. Storage for oddments is provided for in the cubby hole, the front door pockets, and two cup-holders between the front seats.

Standard equipment for the Mazda2 Individual Plus 1.5L Auto as tested, includes electric windows front and rear, tinted rear glass, electric exterior mirrors, automatic air-conditioning, multi-function 4-spoke steering wheel adjustable for both reach and rake, a trip computer with four functions, an auxiliary-audio input jack, USB plug and keyless entry and push-button engine start.

On the safety front, Mazda’s Proactive Safety system is comprehensive, complete with the Mazda2’s SKYACTIV-body, employing a multi-load path structure that absorbs and disperses impact force. The Mazda2 also has dual front airbags for the driver and front passenger, childproof rear door locks, ISOFIX child restraint anchor points, dynamic stability control, while the excellent braking system comprises vented discs in front and solids at the rear, with a raft of electronic driver aids including ABS, EBD, DSC and EBA.

The new Mazda2 is powered by the new generation SKYACTIV-D 4-cylinder 1.5 litre petrol engine which develops 82 kW at 6 000 RPM and 145 Nm of torque from 4 000 RPM and drives the front wheels through a 6-speed automatic transmission. For the more sporty drivers, there are paddle shifters behind the steering wheel and the autobox offers a sport mode. Another plus for the 6-speed SKYACTIV is that when you select manual mode, the ‘box operates like a true manual shift car in that once you select a gear, it will hold that gear right up to the 6 300 RPM red-line and only changes up when the driver activates the change. Performance-wise, after slotting the automatic into manual and sport mode, it did the 0 to 100 km/h dash in a commendable 10.4 seconds after two gear changes and goes on to a top speed of 184 km/h. In the stopping department, the brakes were very good, bringing the Mazda2 to a complete stop from 100 km/h in just 3.2 seconds.

In terms of petrol consumption, Mazda claims a figure of just 5.5 litres per 100 km, however, over the week I had the press vehicle, the trip computer gave me a reading of 6.9 litres per 100 km’s in the combined cycle which is more realistic, especially with a lot of town driving.The tank holds 56 litres.

Seated behind the 4-spoke leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel, front visibility is very good, but at the rear, the wide “C” pillar tends to obstruct the view when reversing out of an angle parking. All buttons, levers and switches are well positioned as is the automatic shift lever, while the three aircon vents, with one at each end of the dash and one centrally positioned, distribute the air very well. Once comfortable in the driver’s seat, push the start button and the engine fires up immediately and idles quietly. Slot it into “Drive” and the Mazda2 1.5 petrol pulls away smoothly. The gear changes are quick and smooth and the car pulls strongly, with good linear power delivery. The power steering is well weighted and feels slightly quicker than before, but the car remains easy to manoeuvre. The ride is comfortable and composed, while the softer suspension does a good job of smoothing out ruts and bumps.

On the freeways at a steady 120 km/h in 6th gear, the motor spins at a relatively easy 2 700 RPM in 6th gear with wind and road noise well contained. In the curves and twists in some of our KZN Midlands roads, the Mazda2 exhibited good road-holding and handling, all of which made it a pleasure to drive.
It’s clear that this new model, petrol powered Mazda2 Individual Plus Automatic derivative has moved a notch up-market in nearly all ways. It’s more comfortable, more sophisticated, has adequate power and offers very good value for money. The Mazda2 1.5 Individual Plus Automatic5-Door as tested, sells for R292 200 which includes a 3-year unlimited kilometer factory warranty, 3-year roadside assistance and a 3-year service plan.
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