By on July 19, 2014

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Unlike the American motoring press, the Brits have never been as enthusiastic about Mazda. Even though countless journalists have extolled the virtues of the Mazda3, the Golf and Focus always seem to take the top spot in the C-segment evaluations. But the Mazda2 might be a…wait for it…game changer.

With one of the first road tests of the upcoming Mazda2, AutoExpress has declared

“Mazda has put a lot of effort into lifting the 2’s dynamics, design and quality levels to bring it in line with Europe’s class-leaders. With a totally new stylish look, new engines, sporty handling and improved trim levels, Mazda has placed it in the same playing field as the VW Polo and even the Audi A1.

Even as an unabashed Mazda fanboy, I have to say that comparisons to an Audi are a bit lofty. I may love their products, but I’m not under any illusions regarding their shortcomings. Even so, I haven’t been looking forward to driving a subcompact in a long time. Well, unless you count the Fiesta ST.

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51 Comments on “High Praise Or Hyperbole?...”


  • avatar
    HerrKaLeun

    ” the Brits have never been as enthusiastic about Mazda”

    well, they have rain and winter. So corrosion may bother them?

  • avatar
    rockets

    If it is still fun to drive, gets 35-45mpg ( like the JDM version is likely to, at least with the smaller 1.3 petrol) and is well optioned, it should be uber-competitive if not a real game changer. I suppose we are resigned to not getting the diesel option in the states, though. Hopefully the new 1.5 petrol here will be a bit quicker as well.

  • avatar
    Lampredi

    Well, the Audi A1 *is* a VW Polo (with a higher price because of those 4 rings), so if the Mazda 2 is in the same playing field as the VW Polo, then it should be able to take on the Audi A1 as well.

  • avatar
    mike89

    “Unlike the American motoring press, the Brits have never been as enthusiastic about Mazda.”

    Japanese cars in general have never been popular across Europe, not only in the UK. At least where i live, people blame the sleep-inducing styling and driving dynamics, and the fact that, if you look at the cold numbers (price, performance, mpg), they aren’t any better than most offerings from the established Euro brands.

  • avatar
    bd2

    The current crop of Mazdas has been getting praise from the Brits, tho maybe not as sycophantic as from the US press (definitely, the most praised Japanese brand on both ends of the pond).

  • avatar
    Zekele Ibo

    Current-model Mazda2 owner here. If their aim is to take the car upmarket, unfortunately Mazda will be writing checks that the badge can’t cash. It’s why, despite the new version of the Mazda3 being better than the old one in almost every way, that sales in North America are down for that model.

    Mazda needs to stay in the mass-market in terms of pricing, offering cars with a sportier feel for similar money to the mainstream. I’m worried that an attempt to grab the high end will be their downfall.

    I’m reserving my opinion for the new Mazda2 until I’ve seen it in the real world and not in photos. I loved the look of the new Mazda3 in pictures, but in real life (especially in the hatchback version) the styling is a bit strange and imbalanced due to the extra-long hood. Also, engine choice will be important: 100 horsepower is not enough, it’s probably the biggest failing of my current car.

    • 0 avatar
      petezeiss

      Mazda is the All-American 6’1″ college linebacker and the American car market is the NFL. Nobody tries harder but the competition is just too big and awesome.

      I assume Brits could make a similar sports metaphor about whatever it is they wear cleats for over there.

    • 0 avatar
      ...m...

      …automatic?..with the standard transmission its engine provides ample power for street driving, provided one drives it well…

      • 0 avatar
        Zekele Ibo

        Mine is the 5-speed manual. 100 horespower is “sufficient” for regular urban use, but I wouldn’t use the word “ample”. The new car will be heavier, even if marginally. Even if you floor it in 2nd gear, overtaking is a chore. I still think my (2012) Mazda2 is a great car, but before buying the new model I want to see some improvements. Is 120 horses and a decent auto box too much to ask?

        • 0 avatar
          rockets

          That’s what I was wondering in an earlier post on another thread about the new 2: why can’t it have about 125 hp with the new Skyactiv engine? Hopefully the trannies will both be six speed. A friend had a base Mini with 120hp and it was fun to drive, but the gremlins got him at about 60k, so much so that he got rid of it. I hope this will be good alternative to the Mini with equal performance and better reliability. ‘Course it would be fun to have the 2.0 with 155hp as an option…

        • 0 avatar
          ...m...

          …while i agree that more power would be welcomed, i’ve never felt hobbled merging, pulling through traffic, nor passing other cars in ordinary driving conditions, freeways and surface streets, both…

          …the trick (delight, actually) is to grab it by the scruff of its neck and wring it right to the top of its powerband: if you’re feeling that mid-to-low RPM hesitation, double-clutch and downshift…of course it can’t keep pace with anything moderately sporting driven forcefully, but when 99% of the cars on the road idle along at 2000RPM anyway, 23 pounds per horsepower is plenty if driven with conviction…

          …i love that the mazda 2 is a car i can drive near its limits every day without feeling held back in street traffic, not even on power…really it’s an exemplar of the slow-car-driven-fast rule, since i have as much fun driving my 2 as i do my elise, and if i’m going to be honest probably more fun than my MX-5…

      • 0 avatar
        Daniel Latini

        The current 4-speed auto definitely does the car no favors.

        Still, Derek’s gauntlet has been thrown. I’m very curious to see what Mazda does here

  • avatar
    Johannes Dutch

    It’s just another B-segment car, that’s all. Ford, Opel~Vauxhall, Volkswagen, Audi, Seat, Skoda, Renault, Peugeot, Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Citroën and Toyota also have one. Meanwhile both Mazda and Honda have become niche-brands, not even close anymore to the sales numbers they once had in the past.

    And for real fun you go for a Renault Clio RS or a Peugeot 208 GTi.

    • 0 avatar

      I’d have to agree. And the thing is the Euro brands still drive slightly different. Not as pronounced as in the past, but jumping from a VW into a Fiat, the differences are still relatively apparent (talking drive). Most f the time the Japanese cars are neither here nor there.

  • avatar
    DrGastro997

    I have no problems with Mazda being compared to
    Audis. The quality and craftsmanship in the new Mazdas is superb. Mazda has done relatively well in Germany for years despite their own makes. The UK will like the Mazda just as well, not just for the price, but for the balance between quality, styling, performance and durability. Mini, Citroen, Renault, Peugeot, etc need to build quality, not just style and numbers. Mazda is the same size as Maserati in terms of corporate size, but their global market penetration is soon to happen.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      I checked out the Audis & BMWs at the last auto show, and I bought a Mazda because in my opinion, it *is* compare–but costs $10k less. Sure, it doesn’t have quite as many features, and its engine isn’t as powerful, but I have no complaints with that.

      • 0 avatar
        DrGastro997

        Great choice! Hope you’re liking your Mazda…how has it been so far?

        • 0 avatar
          redav

          It’s fantastic. I’m still getting used to it, so I can’t give an in-depth review.

          I got the big engine, and it’s completely worth it. It’s easily the best car I’ve owned. (But some careless cyclist dropped their bike against it yesterday in the parking lot of the trail head and put a couple gouges in the quarter panel.)

  • avatar
    Z71_Silvy

    I think the difference here is that the 2 is probably a good car.

    And if it has less than 5 recalls and 40 service bulletins, it’s well ahead of the “game changing” 2013 Fusion.

  • avatar
    darex

    This is the same Auto Express that just declared the F56 MINI Cooper “2014 Car of the Year?”

  • avatar

    I do not see how Americans are any different than Brits in regards of Mazda. Ford, VW/Audi are doing considerably better than Mazda in SF Bay area at least.

  • avatar
    The_real_JB

    So they’re saying the suspension is rock hard, it understeers till you or the tyres die of boredom and it costs way too much for how little power you get?

  • avatar
    Joss

    When Mazda launched in the UK it was a name more associated with light bulbs.

  • avatar
    bts

    I thought the new Honda Fit was the subcompact gamechanger.

  • avatar
    69firebird

    This site is now overrun by a bunch of twits who comment on cars they’ll never own and have never driven.

    It’s obvious that better than half of you thundertwats have never even turned a wrench.

    Pork thineselves with a cactus hard.

  • avatar
    RRocket

    The new 1.5 litre engine has similar specs to a 2000 Toyota Echo’s engine specs.

    No wonder people aren’t enthusiastic about it and the hype of “Sky-Activ” technology.

    • 0 avatar
      dantes_inferno

      > No wonder people aren’t enthusiastic about it and the hype of “Sky-Activ” technology.

      I hear you. I test drove a Mazda 3 with the “Sky-Activ” technology, and my most vivid memory of that experience is the overly sensitive throttle response – as though Mazda was somehow compensating for the lack of low-end torque.

    • 0 avatar
      niky

      Do note that the 1.5 in the article is a *diesel*.

      103 horsepower still isn’t impressive for a 1.5 diesel, not compared to Korean 1.5s putting out 125 hp… but it’s not terrible, considering the last 2.0 Jetta diesel I drove only had 110…

  • avatar

    Opinions do vary. I’ve driven the Polo and the A1. I can see why people like them, but I don’t. The ride too hard, the seating position a bit low. Interior in the Polo very drab. The A1 is gorgeous outside and good on the inside (though a bit unimaginative inside and they should have found a better place for that screen, now it looks like an afterthought), plus the oh so noisy transmission. Don’t understand why anyone would rank them as best drive in class. If the Mazda is like them, then it’s not for me.

  • avatar
    redav

    Am I the only one who finds it strange how so many comments are about how Europe/UK is indifferent about Mazda, yet their sales have been on fire over there with something like 20%+ year-over-year increases in a down/stagnant market?

    And why are we even discussing if praise is deserved or an exaggeration before actually getting the car? Why not ask if the Tesla Model III is even better than the Model S, or which automaker’s autonomous cars are the best?

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      20% more than not much is still not much.

      Mazda is to the UK as VW is to the US. Except the numbers are a lot smaller.

      Personally, I have driven nearly every model of Mazda over the past 10 years and completely fail to see what all the fuss is about. Better than Toyotas, but that is being the prettiest girl in the leper colony.

      • 0 avatar

        I also fail to understand why all this adoration of Japanese cars in US. When I lived in Russia nobody cared about Japanese cars except of Far East where they were considerably cheaper that anything European. German cars considered as a more durable, more sophisticated and premium. If you wanted something to last then German cars were obvious choice. Japanese were better than Koreans of course but closer to Koreans than to Germans. Ford Mondeo was considered far superior to any Japanese car including Accord.

        • 0 avatar
          piggybox

          Well in US, I haven’t seen any data so far to prove German cars are more durable than Japanese ones. You can find many statistics to prove the opposite though. I’m not sure if this fact is due to different product design and quality control.

  • avatar
    wstarvingteacher

    Times have sure changed. My first economy car had 1600 pounds and 40 hp. It would pass absolutely nothing and get 30 mpg. I think this car would do fine for me even with the change in traffic dynamics over the last 50 years.

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