My four-year-old loves the Mazda 2. It’s red and therefore by his Burago Ferrari F40 Competizione-fuelled logic it has to be a racing car. Admittedly, though, I do indulge him by resorting to manual shifts and letting the 1.5 hop on the redline — racing car, indeed.

Frivolous observations aside, having a little one (as most parents would likely agree) often means that the back of the car isn’t as pristine as one would hope. That is a mildly worrying prospect in the 2. The two-tone cream and black interior looks fine, but stains easily; I would opt for a darker shade to be honest.

Another annoyance is the digital fuel indicator. The way the display is graded means that as soon as it shows you that you have about a quarter of a tank of petrol remaining, the fuel warning light is already on. There you are, thinking, ‘That’s plenty’ and then... Ping! The advisory LED is on.

To be fair, though, the 2 has a tiny 44-litre tank and it takes just over Dh40 to fill it up. This, coupled with the perfectly acceptable fuel economy of about 7.0 litres per 100km, equates to an economical car to run — trips to the petrol station aren’t as frequent as you would imagine.
The ride quality is much better than you would expect, too. Especially if you consider how level and undinghy-like it feels in the corners — not something I can say about most of its rivals. It really is a car that you enjoy driving around. On a more superficial note, while the team is generally unanimous in its appreciation of the 2’s design, it has drawn some criticism from the Teuton/Tifosi corner of the wheels cubicle. Fadi, the Arabic editor of the mag, feels it’s too generic and doesn’t evoke as much ‘want’ as wares from the old continent. Then again, it’s subjective and he is out-voted anyway.

A word of advice, though, if you are thinking of buying a 2, then don’t be lazy and go for white or silver because you won’t have to get it washed that often. It’s a lively little car, which means it can pull off garish hues more convincingly than some other offerings in its class.

Yes, it’ll get dirty more easily, but racing cars just look better with battle scars, don’t they?

The progress

Week 4 Our top-spec R grade model retails for about Dh62,000 and you have to pay another Dh2,000 if you want a sat-nav — that’s a fair amount of money for something this small.

Highs Great to drive, lots of character.

Lows Some rivals are better equipped.

Week 3 The engine, despite its diminutive capacity, is zingy and revs with unexpected enthusiasm, too.

Highs One of the best cars to drive in its class.

Lows Where’s the lock-unlock button?

Week 2 The Mazda 2 rises to the occasion when dep. ed Sony has to help a buddy carry an unfeasible amount of cargo — albeit with the rear seats down.

Highs More carrying capacity than you’d expect.

Lows Rear-passenger room.