2018 Mazda 2 Sport
Skyactive isn't a skyrocket, but it is a sizzler.
The little Mazda doesn’t pretend to be anything it isn’t. There’s no attempt to claim competition with the likes of the Fiesta ST or ClioSport. Instead, it does what Mazda excels at, a left-field option with pace for the committed and enough grunt for the rest. A run from the centre of St Albans to Buckingham gives a mix of town traffic, motorway running, and sprint off a roundabout. On startup, there’s a nosiness, a touch louder than expected that settles once the engine has run for half a minute. On setting off, you could think that a diesel is under the bonnet, albeit without the clatter. There’s a shove of torque that isn’t particularly strong but beyond the expectations of a naturally aspirated petrol. The steering has less conversation than a cement enthusiast but gives enough resistance to get a pass, but it isn’t a high mark. Mazda’s always run a little harder suspension than the competition and this helps when taking a corner with a little extra momentum without the horrible lost dead centre feel that many electric steering systems haven’t quite dialled out. The slighter stiffer ride shouldn’t put you off, there's plenty of tyre wall meaning rougher bumps aren’t sent straight to your spine.
Interior space is also ample, even the taller driver can get reasonably comfortable although rear passengers should be limited to short journeys for adults or kids space.
The tech is as up to date as any competitor however the large panel behind the rearview mirror will become problematic for those wanting a dashcam or when trying to look past it for an awkward set of traffic lights.
Under the bonnet is an engine that is happy to rev and outside of the initial torque offering is all horsepower and flat throughout each gear. Put this down to the Skyactive motor and the engineering effort Mazda put in. It’s something different and for that Mazda deserves more attention than they get for it. Those who care will notice the difference, owners that aren’t interested probably won't be able to tell it apart from any other engine. That’s a trick worth a medal alone, if you’re looking for a small car the Mazda is firmly middle of the road, not pushing high power, or ultra-comfort but any car in this sector making those claims are making compromises elsewhere or pushing the price up. For that reason, the little Mazda should make it onto a shortlist.