We know it’s sporty, but does the Mazda2 present a convincing case in pseudo-luxury Limited form?
Base price: $28,595.
Powertrain and performance: 1.5-litre petrol four, 81kW/141Nm, 6-speed automatic, front-drive, Combined economy 4.9 litres per 100km.
Vital statistics: 4060mm long, 1495mm high, 2570mm wheelbase, luggage capacity 250 litres, fuel tank 44 litres, 16-inch alloy wheels on 185/60 tyres.
We like: Great to drive, impressive safety equipment, MZD Connect infotainment system.
We don’t like: Firm ride for a city car, doesn’t look different from lesser Mazda2 models.
How it rates: 9/10
WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW? Not so long ago, the notion of a luxury small-car would have seemed faintly ridiculous. Not any longer: the likes of Audi (A1), BMW (1-series, anything Mini) and Mercedes-Benz (A-class) have embraced the concept and paved the way for mainstream brands to offer premium versions of their smallest models.
We’ve already tested the Mazda GSX in manual form and loved its high style and high energy. But now it’s the turn of the top-specification Limited automatic to prove its worth as a pseudo-luxury supermini.
WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE? Transmission aside, the basic mechanical package is the same across all Mazda2 variants: a 1.5-litre petrol four designed around the Japanese carmaker’s light weight, low-friction SkyActiv technology.
As with the GSX, the powerplant is shy on low-down pulling power but sprightly at higher revs and certainly capable of standout fuel economy. In fact, the six-speed automatic version is thriftier than the manual, returning 4.9 litres per 100km in the European Combined cycle. Who’d have thought?
You can’t have a manual transmission in the Limited anyway. The automatic is Mazda’s own work and it’s excellent, with the requisite number of ratios (any less than six looks a bit old-hat these days) and smooth operation. It arguably plugs the gap in the engine’s low-rev responsiveness a bit better than the manual in the GSX, without really giving up anything in terms of performance.
The automatic also features a sport mode, activated via a rocker switch on the centre console, which livens up the transmission calibration.
The light steering suits the Limited’s pseudo-luxury character. The firm ride less so, but there’s denying that the Mazda2 has a very capable chassis. It turns in nicely and remains very stable through bumpy open-road corners.
You do get a good view at night with the Limited: it’s the only Mazda2 with LED headlight technology and automatic high-beam control.
IS IT EASY TO LIVE WITH? Despite its flagship status, there’s not a lot of visual difference between the Limited and GSX inside (or out): same curvaceous dashboard with red detailing, same instrument panel, same head-up display, same black/red sports-style seats, same brilliant MZD Connect information and entertainment system, with its combination of touch-screen and physical-controller technology.
Where the Limited really does step up into luxury territory is active safety technology, with technology that you simply don’t see in other superminis. Like the GSX, the Limited gets blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert: a brilliant feature that warns you of traffic approaching when you’re reversing out of a driveway or parking space.
But the Limited also picks up lane departure warning system and city braking support, which acts autonomously to prevent rear-end collisions at up to 30km/h.
SHOULD I BUY ONE? The Mazda2 Limited is not a total luxury experience and nor should you expect that when you’re getting quite a bit of change from $30k.
But it is still a convincing flagship model for the Mazda2 range, keeping the highly capable chassis of the more mainstream versions but adding a wealth of high-tech driver aids.
We’d like to see a bit more differentiation from other Mazda2 models in the design detail inside and out, but overall this is further confirmation that Mazda2 is comfortably at the top of its class.
- Blind spot warning: Yes
- Lane guidance: Yes
- Cruise control: Yes
- Automatic lights/wipers: Yes/yes
- Parking radar: Yes
- Self-parking technology: No
- Head-up display: Yes
- Satellite navigation: Yes
- Keyless entry/start: Yes/Yes
- Stop-start: Yes
- Air conditioning: Dual-zone climate
- Heated/ventilated seats: No
- Power seat adjustment/memory: No
- Leather upholstery: No
- Power boot or tailgate: No
- Split/folding rear seats: 60/40
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