Mimi ON Mar 16, 2015 AT 3:14 pm

By Liz Turner


I love talking to Japanese car designers. The Germans are all about precision and detail, but the Japanese seem to be gazing into another dimension. They talk about natural forms and the pent-up energy of a predator, and they use single words to sum up an entire concept, such as Kodo, Mazda’s current design philosophy meaning ‘Soul of Motion’.

The new Mazda2 is a bigger, more voluptuous beast than its popular predecessor. It’s the first of a wave of new models to be launched this year that all take the brand another step upmarket.

I got to try three cars fr

om the range on some fabulous roads across Dartmoor, with a stopover at the chic Harbour hotel in Salcombe.

The new two’s prices reflect Mazda’s aspirations. They start at £11,995, but the cheapest I drove cost £15k with options, the final model closer to £20k. For that you get lots of space, a cavernous boot and a car that’s fun and involving to drive. Its new looks have presence, with a big mouth and eyes of a furious tiger.


There’s an app for that

Mazda hopes to attract younger drivers with its advanced MZD Connect infotainment system. This allows access to masses of free mobile content via the cloud-based Aha service, including thousands of internet radio stations. It will even read out your incoming Facebook news and texts.

Of the three cars I drove, the 1.5-litre, 105PS diesel was by far my favourite. All models have involving steering and a slick gearchange, but the diesel was quiet and punchy, with plenty of oomph to get past crawlers and trucks. The 90bhp 1.5 (£14,395) petrol is predicted to be the best seller, and would probably make a good option as a city runabout, but it wheezed up hills and, as it only had five gears, I frequently had to change down to second. Its 115bhp six-speed petrol cousin was much livelier and less effort to drive.

Five trim levels range from the rather grey and minimal SE to trim levels with coloured stitching and stripes inside and fancy alloy wheels. Safety kit is excellent on all levels, but from SE-L upwards, the Mazda2 is equipped with the fantastic Smart City Brake Support. Between 2.5 and 18.5mph the car will either help you to brake, or will brake for you to stop you hitting a car, child or wall ahead of you. That will prevent many a fender bender in traffic.

Soul mining

Buying a car is always a heart versus head struggle. Practical issues and scribbled sums on many bits of paper are essential, but there are some things you can’t quantify including looks, tactile pleasure and simply personal taste.

The Mazda2 has another quality not all cars can boast, and I can see the Japanese engineers nodding. It has soul.

 Well connected

Mazda2 105ps Sport Nav Diesel

Price £ 17,395, as tested £19,350

Engine 1.5 litres, 105 PS

Gearbox six-speed manual

Top speed 111mph

0-62mph 10.1 seconds

Official comibined fuel consumption 83.1mpg; fuel economy recorded on test drive 55.5mpg

CO2 89g/km

Insurance rating A/16E




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