Mazda's tiny city hatch has been treated to an update one decade after its launch. So, how does it fare in this small but still-relevant market segment?

What is it?

A decade after this third-generation model’s launch, the Mazda2 is still kicking about in 2024 and remains one of a dwindling number of superminis on offer. In the light vehicle segment, it was third-placed to the Suzuki Swift and cut-price MG3 over the course of 2023, while it was just out-edged by the Kia Picanto which effectively sits alone in the ‘micro’ category below it.

To keep it competitive, Mazda has treated it to a facelift for its 10th birthday, with new styling and some minor interior tweaks bumping up its stock. On test here is the entry-level G15 Pure grade, which comes priced at $24,410 before on road costs in both hatchback and sedan form when fitted with an automatic transmission, although a manual hatch is on offer for $2000 less.

Why are we testing it?

As one of the most popular offerings in its class, we were keen to see how the Mazda2 is holding up after all these years, and whether the minor updates its received are enough to help it stave off the competition for another year.

How’s the styling?

The principal focus of this update has been the exterior, and Mazda has done a good job of injecting a bit of fun into the 2’s looks while also ensuring it continues looking fittingly city-chic. The Pure model on test here perhaps benefits from the styling tweaks the most, as it sports some eye-catching yellow accents inside the front grille and on the rear bumper which add a fitting touch of fun.

Speaking of the grille, it’s now blanked-out on Pure models, while other variants it remains openly vented. This blanked-out version looks the part to me, particularly with some colours such as the new Air Stream Blue Metallic where it’s body-coloured, although it remains black with Aluminium Metallic paint as shown here. The front bumper itself has also been tweaked as well.

While those are the main changes for the Pure spec, stepping up in the range will add some other unique features including a faux-carbon fibre roof on the Pure SP, new 16-inch alloys on the GT model, and different coloured bumper accents. In addition to Air Stream Blue Metallic, there are also three other new colours for the Mazda2: the new Aero Grey Metallic, along with Soul Red Crystal Metallic and Machine Grey Metallic.

Between these minor tweaks, I think the Mazda2 will continue to look quite at home in a Mazda showroom parked next to the brand’s bigger and far more expensive models.

What it like inside?

The interior changes appear relatively minimal on on this Pure model at first, with the same semi-digital instrument cluster and small 7.0-inch infotainment screen to be seen ahead of you, along with some basic carry-overs such as manual air conditioning controls, the dated BMW iDrive-style rotary dial for controlling the infotainment screen, and plenty of hard black plastic.

However, there are some less obvious changes which do make a difference. The seat design has been updated, the decorative trim across the dashboard has been updated, and there are coloured rings added around the air vents in higher grades. This base model also finally scores automatic headlights and wipers.

It’s also worth saying that it feels like a quality item in terms of its overall construction, with the switchgear feeling tactile and everything feeling solidly bolted together. Sure, the materials might not be the plushest in areas like you’d find in other Mazdas, but there’s still an air of quality to be sensed.

In the front, there’s a good amount of space on offer thanks to a good range of adjustment for the seats and steering wheel, with everything laid out sensibly and ergonomically as you’d expect from other Mazda’s. Naturally, the back seat is fairly tight and the boot measures in at just 250 litres on this hatch – growing to 440 litres on the sedan – but its diminutive proportions do offer the advantage of making it incredibly easy to manoeuvre on tight city streets. It’s a fair trade-off in that regard.

More disappointing is the basic infotainment system which feels clunky and basic at this point – particularly as the touchscreen only works when stationary. It does have wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but it would be nice if it was wireless considering how basic the rest of the system is; there’s even a redundant map button, which pressing simply brings up a screen effectively telling to you pay more if you want it.

Regardless, this is an affordable car and the interior fits the bill in that regard. It has the features that matter, enough space for city-dwelling singles or couples, good visibility, and ideal proportions for around town.

What’s under the bonnet?

All 2024 Mazda2 variants are powered by a 1.5-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder petrol engine which produces a meagre 81kW at 6000rpm and 142Nm at 3500rpm when fitted with a six-speed automatic transmission.

For some reason, opting for the cheaper six-speed manual – which is exclusive to the entry-level Pure – sees a different tune offering 82kW at the same 6000rpm and 144Nm at 4000rpm. All models come standard with front-wheel drive.

Fuel economy is claimed at 5.0L/100km for the automatic and 5.4L/100km for the manual. All variants are fitted with an auto start/stop system.

What’s it like to drive?

Although the Mazda2 is far from a powerhouse, its relatively light 1109kg kerb weight in auto hatch form helps it feel up to speed in city traffic. While I’ve not had a chance to test the manual, the six-speed auto offered across the range is a smooth unit which shifts gears predictably and punctually, helping bring the best out of its petite engine.

At higher speeds, such as on the freeway or country roads, it’s perhaps unsurprisingly noisy and feels a bit strained, but on city streets this engine feels right at home. It remains smooth and relatively muted at lower revs, so on your daily commute there’s little to complain about.

Thanks to its 14.7:1 steering ratio and rigid steering mounts, the steering feel is impressively direct and well-weighted, which is certainly in keeping with the dynamics of Mazda’s other models. It also helps with making parallel parking a doddle. On a winding road, it feels agile and has decent road holding despite the economy-minded tyres, although at triple-digit speeds it can get blown around a bit on a windy day. The suspension is comfortable, though, and does a fine job of soaking up potholes and the sort of terrain you’ll find on poorly-maintained city streets.

For many, the Mazda2 will be their first car after getting their license, and it’s a good fit for this crowd. With it being basic and easily manageable in every way, it ticks all the right boxes that a parent looking for a car for their teenager will be after. Beyond that, it makes for a sensible option for those who are simply looking for a workhorse that can handle the drive to work and weekly shopping trips without ever needing to venture too far out of town.

How do the numbers add up?

Without question, the Mazda2 manages to deliver on its promises of impressive fuel economy. After 589km of testing, I saw a return of 5.8L/100km which is impressively close to the claim considering I spent a fair bit of that time on the freeway where it was working its hardest. In city traffic, I easily came close to matching the 5.0L/100km claim.

Mazda offers a five-year unlimited kilometre warranty for all models including the 2. Servicing is required every 12 months/15,000km with a lifetime capped price servicing plan. Over the course of the warranty period, the total cost will come to $2116 ($423 on average per service).

As for the price point, the Mazda2’s popularity has clearly been anchored by it remaining affordable compared to its key rivals. With drive-away costs factored in for this entry-level auto, you’re looking at a circa-$4000 saving compared to an entry-level Toyota Yaris Ascent Sport or Volkswagen Polo 85TSI Life, which makes a big difference at this end of the market, although both offer better cabin tech than the Mazda. The Suzuki Swift comes in at a fraction less, while the MG3 is owes its first-place in the segment to its sub-$20k entry cost, and the even-smaller Kia Picanto also offers some food for thought.

Do consider, though, that the 2024 Mazda2 is unrated by ANCAP, with the 2015-plated five-star rating that applied to models produced between 2014-2022 now having expired. However, there are no major mechanical changes for this model, so its crash safety would remain unchanged.

So, what’s the verdict?

The Mazda2 might feel a bit dated in some areas after a decade on the market, but there’s no denying it remains competitive in this segment. Impressive fuel economy, tidy steering, chic styling, and lifetime capped price servicing are a few highlights of what is still a fairly competitive package.

Considering the upwards push of the Toyota Yaris’ and Volkswagen Polo’s respective price tags, the Mazda2 remains decent value in a small but still-important segment of the market. However, I think it’s the G15 Pure manual hatch which stands out as the value pick of the range, so long as you don’t mind rowing your own gears. With a bit of extra poke for a $2000 saving, it’s the smart move compared to this base auto in my eyes.

Regardless, this update should help eke a bit more time out of the ageing Mazda2 and help it keep looking the part in showrooms next to the brand’s larger and more expensive models.

2024 Mazda2 G15 Pure Hatch List Price: $24,410
  • 7/10
    Performance - 7/10
  • 8/10
    Ride & Handling - 8/10
  • 7/10
    Tech & Features - 7/10
  • 8/10
    Practicality - 8/10
  • 7.5/10
    Value for Money - 7.5/10

Pros: Updated looks are ideally city-chic, economical petrol engine backed by a smooth automatic, feels like it’s solidly built
Cons: Outdated interior has generations-old tech and some cheap materials, engine can get a bit noisy and strained at freeway speeds, middle of the pack in terms of value

Full Disclosure: The vehicle tested here was provided by Mazda Australia for one week with a full tank of fuel.

Patrick Jackson
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