IT’S hard to believe, but the current Mazda2 has been around since 2007, with a minor upgrade in between.
The kick-off point is the Neo manual hatch at $15,790, plus $1650 for the four-speed auto.
We got hold of the little auto for a spin and can understand why it’s a leading light in the tiddler class.
This is despite being off the pace with a four-speed auto, no Bluetooth phone or audio streaming, drum rear brakes and a few other items, but the little Mazda more than makes up for it in the way it drives, feels and looks.
There’s also the salient point that it’s a Japanese-manufactured vehicle, having reverted to this from earlier Thailand production.
In short, it’s a great little car to drive: perky, nippy, economical, with plenty of zip even with the four-speed auto; it’s all you need.
The handling is sporty, helped recently by the adoption of 15-inch wheels and minor suspension and brake tweaks.
Also new is USB connectivity and two new colours – with formica finish at no extra charge.
There’s an economical 1.5-litre twin cam petrol engine driving the front wheels that’s good for a hearty 76kW/136Nm output while consuming around 6.5 litres/100km of 91 RON petrol.
It scores an EU4 emissions rating.
In higher spec models, Mazda2 gets a five-star rating but Neo buyers will have to pay an extra $450 for front, side and curtain airbags to get five-star crash protection.
Even so, it scores stability control and other safety related kit to help avoid a crash or protect you in one.
As a city car, the Mazda2 shines because it’s easy to park and has a tight turning circle, along with easy to see peripherals.
The small boot is a useable shape, expandable with split folding rear seats.
Though nothing flash, the audio system is acceptable and has an AUX input to hook up your music system.
And, of course, we took it on the freeway where, once again, the essentials are right up to speed, with adequate kick to the speed limit and plenty in reserve for overtaking as long as you don’t mind letting the engine rev its head off.
VERDICT: Cheeky looks, affordable, unquestioned Mazda reliability, economical and practical. See one at Melville Mazda, on Canning Highway.