2022 Mazda 2 G15 Pure review
The 2022 Mazda 2 – the smallest and cheapest offering from the brand – is getting on in years. However, it still feels compelling and competent in many respects.
An oldie but a goodie. That’s the 2022 Mazda 2 if you had only one sentence to explain it.
It’s a model that dates back to 2014 in this generation, and has been a popular choice in the segment over the years. However, this is yet another segment that has waned in popularity and entrants against the rising tide of SUVs.
Back in 2014, there was a total of 22 models racking up sales in the small car segment. The three leaders of the segment were the Hyundai i20, Mazda 2 and the Toyota Yaris. And for those with bigger budgets and small car tastes, there were seven options above the $25,000 threshold.
These days, it’s relatively slim pickings: there are 10 above and three below the $25,000 threshold, with sales being dominated by the cut-price MG 3. So far in 2022, the Mazda holds second place. Not bad for an old jigger nearing retirement.
Within the Mazda 2 range, we’ve got the entry-level Pure variant on test. This model has a starting price of $21,390 plus on-road costs, and sits below Pure SP ($23,890), Evolve ($24,990) and range-topping GT ($26,490). Some variants are also available as a sedan, while those who want a manual transmission can only look at the Pure variant. We’ve got the six-speed automatic transmission on our test vehicle, which brings a $2000 premium.
There’s no doubting that this Mazda 2 is on the basic end of the scale inside, but that doesn’t mean it cannot be well executed. And seeing as this Mazda 2 has been around for quite a while, it feels solid and well dialled.
The main indicators of this base specification include manual air-conditioning and cloth seats with manual adjustment, and the Pure specification also misses out on an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, automatic wipers and dusk-sensing headlights, all of which can be found in higher-grade models.
The steering wheel has a premium finish, however, which helps elevate the experience. And although the interior materials are dominated mostly by hard plastics, the variety in materials and textures helps it work well overall.
Generally speaking, the layout is pleasing and fairly practical for everyday usage. Two USB points join a single 12V outlet up front, along with an auxiliary headphone jack above a well-sized storage cubby. There are two proper cupholders next to the manual handbrake, and there’s an additional storage bin – in lieu of a proper lidded centre console – further back.
No centre console or armrest does mean your inboard elbow tends to float around without anywhere to find home.
Only the top GT specification picks up leather trimming, while Evolve gets a more premium finish inside. The cloth seats in this Pure specification are perfectly fine and fit for purpose, but the off-black and brown colour of the materials in our test car looked a little too sun-bleached for my liking.
In the second row, the experience is typical of most vehicles in the segment. It’s small but not unbearably so. Visibility is decent, but there are no air vents, power outlets or room for bottles in the door cards.
Adults on the larger side will find it tight, especially so if there is somebody of similar stature up front. We fitted a baby seat in the back and there wasn’t a stack of room left over.
The interior is good, well sorted and well laid out. A variety in materials and textures among the hard plastics helps, and despite its age, a well-planned initial design means the compact Mazda’s interior works overall.
Naturally, a compact car equals a compact boot, and this Mazda 2 has 250L of space available behind the back seats. It’s around the middle of the field in this regard, and the second row can fold flat (with a 60/40 split) in case you need the extra space.
Infotainment and Connectivity
The Mazda 2 has a 7.0-inch infotainment display, which sits proud above the dashboard tablet-style. It’s controlled by a touchscreen when stopped, but a rotary dial down by your thigh when driving, which can be a bit of a frustrating affair to use. Perhaps part of the issue is that I’m so in tune with using a touchscreen that acclimatising to this system takes a little time.
And once you figure out you need big twists of the dial to navigate around menus, it’s not too bad. But I still reckon access to the touchscreen on the go would be better.
There’s Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and digital radio is a nice inclusion in a base-specification model. Despite there being an option on the main menu, there’s no navigation installed in this base-specification Mazda 2. It’s not an available option either.
In front of the driver is a large central speedometer flanked by smaller liquid-crystal tachometer and trip computer displays. It’s a relatively basic set-up, especially in the advent of digital clusters becoming more commonplace. But this is undoubtedly effective, and the clean design is also kind of pleasing.
Safety and Technology
A five-star ANCAP safety rating for the Mazda 2 from 2015 is good to have, but feels dated in comparison to many competitors. Although the vehicle itself won’t change in any meaningful way, ANCAP’s recent change of rules means the Mazda 2’s five-star rating will expire at the end of the year. And considering the age of the vehicle overall, resubmitting the vehicle for testing and appraisal seems unlikely.
There is some good active safety technology, like lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keep assistance, rear cross-traffic alert, and what Mazda calls ‘Smart City Brake Support’.
This is Mazda talk for autonomous emergency braking. It’s good to have, but a closer look at the details indicates the system is only good for speeds between 4km/h and 30km/h. These are common speeds for minor fender-benders, yes, but having this potentially lifesaving technology available at higher speeds would be better.
Lane-departure nips at the steering wheel gently, but doesn’t feel too intrusive for everyday driving. Being a lighter and cheaper model, the Mazda 2 makes do with rear drum brakes, not a more modern four-wheel disc set-up.
Value for Money
The humble city-sized car isn’t as popular as it used to be. Fewer entrants in this segment means there is less competitive tension, because manufacturers and consumers alike are focussed more squarely on SUVs.
SUVs do attract higher asking prices, however. An entry-level Mazda CX-3 Neo Sport with automatic transmission – and a boot that is 16L bigger – asks for $25,390 ($2000) more.
The out-of-vogue hatchback is good face value, then, and many of the entrants in this part of the world are more expensive than this ageing Mazda 2. Entry-level variants of the Skoda Fabia, Toyota Yaris and Volkswagen Polo are all more expensive than this little Mazda.
Five years and unlimited kilometres of warranty is solid for the Mazda, although it is beaten by seven years for the Kia Rio. Servicing under Mazda’s capped-price set-up goes for $1163 for three years and $2023 for five years.
It’s worth noting here the highlighted capped-price service program attracts a couple of non-negotiable service items below the line. Mazda advertises a base service price but requires additional maintenance at set intervals. Brake fluid needs replacing every two years or 40,000km at a cost of $72, while the cabin air filter needs replacing every 40,000km ($101).
It’s still quite reasonable overall, but it is worth keeping in mind. Our calculations reflect the true number if travelling 10,000km per year, but if you travel further your price may vary.
In terms of fuel economy, we averaged 6.4 litres per 100km during our time with the car. That’s just over one litre per hundred higher than the claim, which we got on a fairly even mix of town and highway driving.
Remember, this Mazda 2 isn’t a hybrid or a smaller turbocharged motor. Being a naturally aspirated 1.5-litre engine, there are more efficient options out there.
Fuel Consumption – brought to you by bp
One positive point about a model like this one, which has been in production for a long time, is that it feels solid and well dialled overall. Mazda is often well known for having a pleasing combination of ride quality, steering feel and handling, and that’s the same case here.
During our time with the Mazda 2, we found it to be comfortable and easy to drive. Ride quality is good around town, and there is some nice poise and a sharp feel through the steering wheel. Not too sharp, mind you, but it feels balanced and responsive.
The 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine – with 88kW and 144Nm available – is good enough for general usage with ample power available. You’ll find it feels a bit thrashy when worked hard up hills, but it gets the job done.
The six-speed automatic gearbox – which is a torque converter style – is smooth-shifting and predictable in its nature. And in comparison to an increasingly popular dual-clutch transmission, this has the advantage of zero low-speed foibles. Although, it probably comes at the expense of some fuel economy.
The turning circle – 9.4m – is commensurably tight for city driving. And being just over 4m long with good visibility from the driver’s seat, the Mazda 2 can be slotted into parking spaces quite easily. Front parking sensors would be nice to have, sure, but one gets a sense of its extremities fairly quickly.
It’s not loaded with features and tech, but it’s a solid option that gets the basics right. And, of course, it is a nice place to spend time. It’s comfortable and nice to drive, with a pleasing interior layout and solid-feeling build quality.
The infotainment perhaps does the most damage in giving away the age of the Mazda 2, and one doesn’t need to look far to see newer and fancier competitors. Its safety credentials aren’t as strong as some of the others either.
However, this Mazda 2 is driving a hard bargain in its twilight years, and has plenty of appeal for a town car that can still pull off the occasional highway jaunt.
Mazda might not have taught this old dog many new tricks recently, but because it nails some of the basics so well, it still feels like a compelling choice – even just for a test drive.