Mazda2 Sedan road test and review
LIGHT sedans have always had a tough fight on their hands.
You see, these sub-compact four- doors aren't the easiest things to get right design-wise, with the hatchback shape far better suited to small vehicles.
Yet there are plenty of light sedans on our market - although not selling in the same numbers as their hatchback brethren - but there are enough buyers out there to justify them, shoppers tempted by the extra luggage space on offer.
Enter the Mazda2 Sedan. The current Mazda2 Hatch has been with us since November last year, proving something of a hit as second best selling light car in 2015 so far, just behind Toyota's Yaris.
Will it work? First impressions suggest so. The design of the Mazda2 Sedan isn't quite as pleasing as the hatch version, but compared to some rivals it ain't half bad.
As the Mazda2 sedan and Hatch are fundamentally identical under the skin, and priced the same, there's a proven capable little performer up for grabs, with a 440-litre boot rather than the hatch's 250-litres.
Available only in Neo and Maxx grades, the new Sedan misses out on the range-topping Genki kit found on the Hatch.
Nevertheless, the front of the cabin is a simple, stylish and quite roomy space considering the car's size.
I found it difficult to get the driving position right, the driver sitting quite high and upright to address the steering wheel properly, even with much fiddling with the wheel's height and reach. That said, the front chair proved supportive on my lengthy test drive and there was no discomfort after a few hours in the saddle.
While front head room is good, the rear is a squeeze and not best suited for adults to travel any great distance. Six footers can expect a head on the ceiling, cramped leg space and compromised view through the side window. But you can expect the same in every light sedan you consider.
The A-pillar has been moved back 80mm over the previous Mazda2 so road view is decent, although it does encroach on sharp cornering sight, but again, nothing unusual here.
Dashboard style is excellent without an over-abundance of hard plastics. The Maxx's 7-inch screen is a treat, but Neo's audio feels a bit dated and bargain basement.
On the road
There are two Skyactiv-G 1.5-litre engines; both petrol four-potters, with the Neo's giving 79kW/139Nm and the Maxx, which also features a stop/start system, at 81kW/141Nm.
Around town and on the highway they're both handy units, not short of revs or shove and with manual box especially, quite zippy little things. Our Adelaide Hills test route did find the motors a tad wanting when presented with a decent incline, but as expected, economy rather than grunt are these motors' raison d'etre.
The manual is a simple box to drive with silky throw (albeit quite long) and feather light clutch pedal. The auto does rob the car of some playfulness, but will be the top seller and proved an unfussy unit for city life.
Coarse surfaces bring out a bit more road noise and bumps are felt through the backside if you're peddling along, but this is a common light car trait. In towns is where the Mazda2 Sedan comes into its own: smooth, quiet and refined for cruising, and on a smooth highway at 110kmh it happily belied its size with peaceful, cosseting progress.
What do you get?
Starting at $14,990 the Neo obviously isn't flush with kit, but cruise control, Bluetooth, push-button start and rear parking sensors are very good inclusions.
The Maxx at $17,690 looks like the pick, with superb MZD Connect (lots of online content through your Smartphone including Facebook and Twitter, radio, podcasts and texts and emails being read out loud), 7-inch screen, reverse camera and 15-inch alloys.
Auto gearboxes add $2000 to the purchase price, while Smart City Brake Support is available for a pretty decent $400.
Sipping standard unleaded it's a real cheapie to run with a quoted 4.9-litres/100km for the auto and 5.4-litres the manual. Our test through city, suburbs and highway saw just over 6-litres/100km; an excellent return.
Here's your reason to buy the sedan over the hatch: 440 litres instead of 250. Enough for the sedan, Mazda said, to haul two large suitcases or two golf bags.
Some will find the wider hatchback boot opening more practical, especially with seats folded down, but it's horses for courses, so whatever suits your lifestyle.
Worthy of mention is rival Honda City sedan's boot being a mighty 536-litres, apparently able to swallow four golf bags.
Light sedan rivals include that Honda City ($15,990), Hyundai Accent Active ($14,990), Mitsubishi Mirage ($14,490), Holden Barina ($15,890) and Toyota Yaris ($17,490). Or a curveball for space lovers, the micro Skoda Fabia wagon ($17,490) brings 530-litres of easy-accessible space.
So the styling. The last generation Mazda2 Sedan was dropped in 2011 as it wasn't selling well, but the new shape - designed as an all-new car rather than a sedan afterthought on a hatch - is a far more cohesive thing.
Inevitably the rear end still looks a tad awkward due to the Mazda2's ickle size, and I'd argue the hatchback is still a better looking thing, but thumbs up to Mazda for producing a titchy sedan with enough kerb appeal to charm.
A successful exercise is tackling the problem of style so often being absent in light sedans, the Mazda2 Sedan makes a decent shout as an alternative to the hatchback for those needing more boot space.
The same pleasing cabin, decent ride and good city engine with superb economy that makes the Mazda2 Hatch so popular, this Sedan will no doubt prove a segment leader in very little time.
What matters most
What we liked: Decent rear design for a light sedan, good driving manners especially in the city, fuel economy, MZD Connect in the Maxx.
What we'd like to see: Better rear head and leg room, less harsh ride on poor surfaces.
Warranty and servicing: Three-year unlimited kilometre warranty. Capped priced servicing is available for the lifetime of the vehicle. Servicing intervals are every 10,000km or annually. Service cost is an average of $293.50 over the first four services.
Model: Mazda2 Sedan.
Details: Four-door front-wheel drive micro size sedan.
Engine: 1.5-litre in-line four-cylinder petrol generating maximum power of 81kW @ 6000rpm (79kw in Neo spec) and peak torque of 141Nm @ 4000rpm (139Nm in Neo spec).
Transmission: Six-speed manual or six-speed automatic
Consumption: 5.2 litres/100km (combined average, manual), 5.4 (Neo spec); 4.9L/100km (a), 5.5 (Neo spec).
Bottom line plus on-roads: Neo (m) $14,990, Neo (a) $16,990, Maxx (m) $17,690, Maxx (a) $19,690.