Car ReviewsFirst Drive

2015 Mazda2 Maxx review

Mark Higgins’ first drive 2015 Mazda2 Maxx review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety, verdict and rating.

In a nutshell : Launched in late 2014, the third-generation Mazda2 is the fourth model in the family to receive the KODO design theme and SKYACTIV Technology.

Editor's Rating

How we rated the 2015 Mazda2 Maxx
Practical Motoring says : The previous generation Mazda2 was loved because of its sweet handling and this new one offers more of the same and adds a more refined cabin and drive experience.

The Mazda2 looks funky outside and in. It gets the new-look Mazda winged grille, replacing the smiley-face grille of Mazda’s of old, large aero styled headlights and there’s little front or rear overhang. It boasts swoopy bodylines between the front and rear guards, tapering side glass, steeply raked front, rear windscreens, and slim line tail lights. It gets attractive alloy wheels wrapped in Dunlop 185/65/15 tyres.

longer than its predecessor, 4060mm (+160mm), the new Mazda2 is also a bit taller 1495mm (+20mm) with a significantly longer wheelbase 2570mm (+80mm) which, on paper at least, promises a better ride, more stable handling and more room inside the thing.

Inside, the Mazda2 Maxx gets smart looking blue/black cloth trimmed seats (height adjustable on the driver’s seat) that are comfortable and provide good upper body support but are too short under thigh. Up front, the Mazda2 feels spacious but despite its extended wheelbase, it is still a squeeze for backseat passengers with minimal leg and headroom. Behind the backseat is a 250-litre boot.

2015 Mazda2 Maxx review

The leather-trimmed steering wheel (which is adjustable for both reach and rake) carries audio, cruise control and phone functions. Behind it there’s a large circular speedo, digital tacho, fuel and temperature gauges and the trip computer. Front and centre of the dash is a display for radio, phone and the music being streamed.

The interior of the Mazda2 and indeed all new Mazdas feels classy thanks to the material choice and fit and finish. The predominantly black plastic cabin is lifted via chrome highlights, faux carbon-fibre panels and gloss black garnish across the dash, console and door trims. The centre console has two cup holders that’ll hold a takeaway coffee cup or small bottle of water, while there’s a small storage facility at the font as well as a slim nook that’s big enough for an iPhone6, plus the leather clad handbrake and shift lever, with the Sport/i-Stop button behind it.

2015 Mazda2 Maxx review

Now the fun part. It’s hard to believe a sub-$20k, compact ‘non’ hot hatch can be this engaging to drive, but I found myself seeking winding roads for the sheer fun of chucking it through corners and each one eaten had me marvelling at its agility and composure. The suspension layout is not uncommon, with MacPherson struts up front, and a torsion beam rear, but the way it works shows Mazda’s dedication to handling and ride quality. Ride quality has not been put aside for handling with the baby Mazda ironing out most bumps, dips, and blemishes in the road. The steering is light around the straight ahead yet weights up nicely mid-corner which makes it an easy car to place on the road but, overall, the steering feels a little inconsistent in its action.

When we tested the Mazda3, we criticised its level of road noise (a bug bear of ours with all Mazdas) and frankly, we were expecting more of the same. Happily with the Mazda2, we can report a distinct lack of road nose across most surfaces. It wasn’t silent, but there was nothing more than distant rumbles, occasionally. Indeed, the fact we noticed a slight rustle of wind noise is testament to the noise and vibration handling work Mazda has done on the Mazda2.

2015 Mazda2 Maxx review

Although there’s just the one engine option for the Mazda2, the 1.5-litre, 16-valve, DOHC four-cylinder petrol engine (91RON) is available in two power outputs, depending on the exhaust layout. The base Neo offers 79kW and 141Nm of torque while our test Maxx and Genki offer 81kW (at 6000rpm) and 141Nm of torque (at 4000rpm). Overall, we achieved 6.1 litres for each 100km we travelled against the official figure of 4.9L/100km.

The engine offers excellent mid-range acceleration and coupled with the Mazda2’s impressive turn-in, good grip and tight body (thanks to a greater use of high-tensile steel which makes this 2 22% stiffer than its predecessor) makes the new Mazda2 a hoot to drive.

Our test Mazda2 Maxx came with the cost-optional six-speed auto which adds $2000. It has two modes, I-Stop and Sport. When selected, Sport mode bumps up the revs in each gear (at 100km/h it was by around 1500rpm) and tends to hold itself in that gear even when lifting slightly off the throttle. For all its bluster, it didn’t actually feel any faster. But switching to manual shifting made a difference, as you could hold the gear until it reached its sweet rev spot before shifting, and there was a nice blip of the revs on downshifts.

2015 Mazda2 Maxx review

Being second from the bottom doesn’t mean the Maxx is sparsely decked out, it gets all the gear of the Neo and plus the higher-output engine, 15-inch alloy wheels, trip computer, touch screen command system, Bluetooth and MP3 compatible audio system with excellent sound quality and model exclusive black/blue trim. Also standard are power windows and mirrors, cruise control, as well as leather-wrapped gear shift knob, handbrake and multi-function steering wheel.

On the safety front, as you’d expect there are front, rear and side airbags, traction and stability control, ABS brakes with brake force distribution and emergency brake assist and ISOFIX anchor points. But missing is reversing/parking sensors and there is simply no excuse not to include them. That said, the Mazda2 gets a five-star ANCAP rating.

The Mazda2 comes with a three-year unlimited kilometre warranty. Roadside assistance comes at a cost of $68.10 per year and scheduled servicing for the first 100,000km will set you back $2935.

2015 Mazda2 Maxx
Price : From $18,990 (+ORC)
Engine : 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol
Power/Torque : 81kW/141Nm
Transmission : (6-speed automatic) standard is six-speed manual.
Body : 4060mm (L); 1696mm (W); 1495 (H)
Weight : 1049kg
Thirst : 4.9L/100km (combined)

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Mark Higgins

Mark Higgins