I had to make a quick trip to HB with my daughter a couple of weekends ago. Having walked past my wife’s brand new Mazda 2 in our garage for the previous month, I thought it would be great to take it for a longer drive than just down to the store for milk.
We threw our bags in the back of the car on Saturday morning and headed off. For two adults on an overnight trip, there was plenty of space. If we’d been going for a week there would have been ample room for gear. The clever design of the rear of the car conceals the load space quite deceptively.
The first thing that strikes you about the new Mazda2 is the very high level of appointment and build quality. When you consider that this is a mid $20k car, the standard equipment and number of electronic and safety features is astonishing. It has the feel of a high-end luxury european brand, and probably drives better. Everything in it has a quality feel.
I wasn’t planning an ‘economy run’ on the drive north, we had a deadline to meet so I wasn’t mucking around. One of the standout features of the weekend for me was that we drove from Lower Hutt to Napier, overtaking everything that was traveling less than 95km/hr (and for some reason there was a lot of slow traffic), we did quite a bit of running around while we were in Hawkes Bay, and then drove back the next day. That was a trip of around 650 km and my wife drove to work in Wellington for a couple more days before having to fill up. All for a grand total of around $75.00 That’s what I call economical motoring.
During the drive I was flipping the 7in touch-screen display between fuel economy and sat-nav, with periodic jumps to the audio screen as my daughter selected music from her iPhone. We were impressed that Pandora is built in to the audio system. That meant we were able to stream music from the internet (via our phone’s unlimited mobile data plan) for most of the trip. Within range of towns and cities there is constant access to almost any music on the planet - a great feature if you can never find a radio station that plays what you like and want a change from your iTunes collection.
Navigating through the information screens was very easy thanks to an amazingly designed toggle-switch-rotating-knob-come-push-button-joystick-thingy that is positioned in exactly the right place, right where your hand rests on the centre console. There’s even a soft pad for your palm to rest on while you’re using the controller - very well thought out design. (Note: Have since learned this is called the 'Commander Control')
The fuel economy screen shows a graph of average fuel economy for each minute of the last five minutes and ten minute blocks for the last hour. It also displays the average for the current trip and a second graph for historical data from previous trips. The best average figure we saw over a one hour period was 4.8L/100km. For the whole trip the average was 5.4L/100km. On the trip up with my foot often hard to the floor, the average was an astounding 5.3L/100km.
What happens after you’ve been driving this car for a while and enjoying the unperceivable, incredibly smooth power delivery and gear changes, is that it slowly dawns on you that the engine is only 1.5 litres in capacity. It’s certainly not obvious, it has the feel of a larger car. It has a ‘solid’ feel on the road, not like the small cars I usually get as rentals. The highway performance it delivers is very impressive for a ‘round town’ car.
I have only touched on a few of the car’s great features, (didn't even mention the advanced technology iStop engine) but what I can tell you is that I have totally changed my view of it. From being ‘my wife’s drive-to-work car’, I now see it as a genuine option when we go away for the weekend, it’s just great fun to drive. Naturally, around town it’s a gem, my wife loves it’s zippiness and that it fits easily into her confined parking space at the parking building she uses. Plus my two dogs fit nicely in the back with the parcel tray removed. Bonus!
You can't beat the Mazda 2 for value for money. And I can’t recommend highly enough, giving the guys at Stevens Motors a call to arrange a test drive. I would recommend taking it overnight or for a weekend, so you get a good amount of time behind the wheel. You won’t want to take it back. It’s the sort of car that the more you drive it, the more you fall in love with.
Read more about the All-New Mazda2.