Practicality is not something you’d normally look for in a supermini. Still, there are many compact hatchbacks on the market that will surprise with the amount of passenger room and cargo space they offer. The Mazda 2 has never been one among them. I remember noting how crammed the rear was after driving the previous version, which was overall smaller than the current car.

However, looks can be deceptive. Despite being 160mm longer at 4,060mm, 20mm taller at 1,495mm, and with an 80mm-longer wheelbase at 2,570mm, the third-generation Mazda 2 surprisingly has a less roomy interior than its predecessor. In fact, the only interior dimension that has increased over the previous-generation car is the front-seat shoulder room, which is 11mm more. Front headroom is down 20mm, while legroom is 5.0mm less. Meanwhile, rear headroom, legroom and shoulder room are down by 15mm, 4.0mm and 30mm, respectively. 
It’s the same with the boot space, which, at 250 litres, is smaller than most cars in the segment.

Nevertheless, last week our long-terming Mazda 2 surprised me pleasantly with the amount of cargo it can carry. During the weekend, I was coming out of a department store after purchasing a kitchen appliance to replace one that had conked out, when a friend called. She was in Abu Dhabi and wanted to check if I could pick up a couple of roll-ups she had left at the Dubai World Trade Centre’s convention hall. I agreed, only to realise later that it was going to be a challenge squeezing those in along with the box I already had in boot. Thankfully I only had two passengers with me, so I folded the bigger side of the 60:40 split rear bench down, moved the box in there and managed to fit the two bags, out of which one was fairly large, in the boot. It was a squeeze, but the Mazda took in all three pieces and still had space for three adults.

Well, it’s no utility vehicle, but the Mazda 2 has surprised me with its flexibility to accommodate a substantial amount of unforeseen luggage.

The progress

Week 1 The Mazda 2, which emerged the Best Compact at our annual awards with its mix of good looks, upmarket cabin and sprightly dynamics, joins the wheels long-term fleet.

Highs Arguably the best car in its price range.

Lows None so far.