Given the number of times the words “driving fun”, “exciting” and “dynamic” pop up in the sales brochure of the Mazda 2, one would imagine it were mere exaggeration, or worse, some good old-fashioned cringe-making, bare-faced, self-aggrandising marketing spiel. What’s more striking, though, is the fact that there is very little in there about tech gimmickry like self-parking systems and internet radio etc — features most of 2’s rivals would shout about unreservedly. There are a couple of reasons for that; a) the 2 doesn’t have either option, and b) it’s a reflection of the kind of car it is. It is built for people who actually love driving and don’t merely view it as an exercise that must be undertaken to get to the mall. Or wherever people who don’t like driving go in their spare time.
In fact, the 2 tries to marry two seemingly conflicting goals with its suite of Skyactiv technologies — fuel efficiency and driving dynamics. The idea, in a nutshell, is to remove any figurative and literal slack in the system, so every component right from the body shell to the engine, gearbox and suspension is tweaked to perform at its optimum. And no waste means better fuel economy, whilst delivering high performance. In theory. The 1.5-litre four-pot may be able to deliver 5.5 litres per 100km strapped to a test bench in Hiroshima, being controlled by geriatric-spec lines of code. But in real-life driving you won’t see anything near that figure. Then again, 7.5 litres per 100km on average is pretty decent considering the 2’s dynamic abilities. I’m certain you can improve on that number, by say, not letting the engine redline before changing gear, or driving everywhere in Sport mode, which sharpens the throttle response. That’s bad for fuel economy and wasteful. You should be ashamed of yourself.
Having driven the car for four weeks it’s clear that the difference between the 2 and its competitors is stark — it focuses more on things that should matter most, i.e. safety and drivability rather than frivolous gadgetry. That’s not to say that the 2 isn’t well equipped, though. You get everything that you really need to get from A to B in comfort, but admittedly some of its other far-eastern foes do that part better. However, getting to your destination isn’t quite the same as driving there… Get that? You’ll ‘get’ the Mazda 2.
Week 5 While Amit’s four-year-old thinks the 2 is a racecar, there is some debate about its looks at the wheels HQ. Cream-coloured two-tone interior stains easily, too.
Highs Fuel efficient yet fun.
Lows Digital fuel indicator is, er, optimistic.
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?