Mazda2: Too much fun

2023 Mazda2 Evolve 1

What is it?

Mazda2 is the smallest vehicle in the Mazda range and recently celebrated its 21st year on the Australian market.

The current, third generation Mazda2 has been on sale since 2014 with upgrades in 2019 and June this year. 

Demand for small city cars like the Mazda2 has been dwindling in recent years with so many SUV alternatives becoming available.

Unlike its few remaining competitors in the circa 4.0-metre field such as Toyota Yaris, Kia Rio, Hyundai i20 and Suzuki Swift, the Mazda3 is also available as a sedan.

2023 Mazda2 Evolve 8

What’s it cost?

There are four grades, in ascending order: Pure, Pure SP, Evolve and GT.

Our test vehicle was the Evolve hatch, with an automatic, priced from $26,220 plus on-roads.

The entry-level Pure and top spec GT get the choice of sedan or hatchback; Pure SP and Evolve are hatch only.

Pure hatch is the only variant available with a six-speed manual gearbox. All others have a six-speed automatic.

The 2023 upgrade brought a new fascia with a new black or body colour grille and a sleeker bumper design that creates a streamlined new look.

All Mazda2 hatchbacks also sport an asymmetrically placed colour accent on the front grille and rear bumper.

Hatchback variants, as well as the top-of-the-line GT sedan, get a redesigned rear bumper, which accentuates the two body-style profiles.

Two new exterior colours – Aero Grey Metallic and Airstream Blue Metallic – join the previous seven nine options.

Pure SP also gets a black film covering for the roof. 

All grades above Pure come with a streamlined ‘shark fin’ antenna.

The GT takes it to another level with an all-new, aero-inspired multi-spoke alloy wheel design and polished, dual exhaust tips.

Turn signals are mounted on the front of the door mirrors and wrap around the outside edges, improving visibility for other road users.

The mirrors automatically fold inwards when the key is used to lock the car, making it easy to see that the doors are locked by glancing at the mirror position.

All models come with a 7.0-inch touchscreen located at the top centre of the dashboard, but also controllable via a round control knob in the centre console.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both wired, there are two USB-A ports at the base of the dashboard.

Satellite navigation is only available in the Evolve and GT models.

Mazda2 was last tested by ANCAP in 2015 when it achieved the maximum five-star safety rating.

That rating has now lapsed.

With the new tougher test procedures and the absence of advanced autonomous emergency braking, it would not achieve that score.

Nevertheless, standard safety features across the Mazad2 range are good and include five airbags, blind sport monitoring, hill launch assist, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, rear cross-traffic alert, reversing camera, rear parking sensors, forward and rear collision monitoring/braking and Isofix child seat anchors points.

Evolve and GT add traffic sign recognition while GT also comes with a 360-degree monitor, advanced keyless entry and front parking sensors.

2023 Mazda2 Evolve 2

What’s it go like?

Mazda2, is quite spacious for a car of its class with a relatively tall body that provides decent space in the cabin.

It can used as a small family car when the kids are in their preteen years, though in Australia it mostly sells to singles and couples. 

The Pure and Pure SP grades come with three coloured dash trim pieces finished in Pure White, Mirror Black or Mint, matching the car’s external paint scheme.

GT adds and partial leather seats and a red and black dashboard.

The rear seat is obviously tight for legroom but has good headroom and a comfortable bench, but almost no storage.

The rear seatbacks fold to increase cargo carrying capacity to 250 litres in the hatch.

And with just one side of the 60:40 division dropped will take a golf bag or similar long load.

The sedan has a boot capacity of 440 litres.

There’s surprisingly good space in the Mazda2, with ample head and shoulder room for average-sized occupants in front, while rear leg room is adequate.

Instruments are clear and easy to read with nice large rotary dials for the aircon and a smaller one for the audio.

These, together with a head-up display, maximise the amount of time that drivers spend looking at the road ahead. 

The ride was a bit bumpy and noisy on some uneven road surfaces.

The car handled confidently without suspension trauma.

Parking, with the aid of the reversing camera and its guidelines, was a doddle with such a small car.

Power comes from a 1.5-litre four cylinder petrol engine, together a six-speed auto, that produces 81kW at 6000 rpm and 142Nm of torque at 3500 rpm.

On the motorway it kept up with the high-speed traffic although it needed plenty of revs on the long uphill runs of the M1 north of Sydney.

The big surprise was how much driving enjoyment the little car provided when we took it over our normal route through the Central Coast hinterland.

There’s no suggestion of it being a hot hatch, but it’s certainly warm enough to bring a smile to our face, especially when we switched over to Sport mode.

The low mass results in a good power to weight ratio and a well-matched transmission.

Road-holding, steering and engine response are all very good

Mazda claims 5.3 litres per 100 kilometres for fuel consumption on the combined urban/highway cycle.

Our test car came up with 5.6L/100km on the daily city commute and an efficient 4.1 litres on motorway runs. 

As with the entire Mazda range the ‘2’ comes with a five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty.

2023 Mazda2 Evolve 7

What we like?

  • Sedan option
  • Fun to drive
  • Doesn’t use much fuel
  • Car handles confidently

2023 Mazda2 Evolve 5

What we don’t like?

  • Rear seat tight
  • Crash rating has lapsed
  • Ride a bit bumpy and noisy on some surfaces
  • Satellite navigation only available with Evolve and GT

2023 Mazda2 Evolve 6

The bottom line?

Although it’s showing its age, the little Mazda2 is an excellent urban car. It’s easy to manoeuvre and park in tight spaces and quite a bit of fun to drive out on the open road.

With prices starting at under $22,700 (plus on-roads), cheap running costs and good safety features it would make an ideal starting car for young drivers.

Cheap and cheerful indeed.

2023 Mazda2 Evolve 4


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Mazda2 Evolve automatic hatch, priced from $26,220
  • Looks - 8/10
  • Performance - 7.5/10
  • Safety - 8.5/10
  • Thirst - 8/10
  • Practicality - 7/10
  • Comfort - 7/10
  • Tech - 7/10
  • Value - 8.5/10

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