Mazda seems to be going from strength to strength in the Australian car market. With the Mazda3 being rated as the most popular and highest selling car over the past two years (44,128 sales in 2012), and set to launch a brand new model in early 2014, Mazda has backed this up with an increasingly popular Mazda2. The reintroduction of the top of the line Genki has seen sales rise and is a top contender for this year’s Light Car Segment, having come in second to the Toyota Yaris in 2012.
The light car segment has come a long way over the past few decades and in comparison, the 1.5-litre engine in the Mazda2 is considerably more powerful than those diminutive cars of bygone eras. The Mazda2 however is let down considerably by the out-dated 4-speed automatic transmission. While it does stay true to the ‘Zoom, Zoom’ philosophy, this zippy nature comes at the cost of a not-so-impressive official 6.8L/100km, which tends to rise when you’re driving around town.
Having said that, it is one of the lightest cars in its segment which improves its performance significantly. The handling in this little beauty is superb. It sits snuggly in corners, feels planted and very responsive steering.
While the dash is mainly hard plastic, the Mazda2 Genki manages to have a rather up-market feel for this segment. With leather wrapped steering wheel and gear knob that is mounted up high on the centre dash. The well-laid out and functional drivers dash and centre dash layout is easy to master and the steering wheel has all the controls you need. While the seats are not luxurious they are comfortable and provide adequate room for the target market.
As part of the new update the Genki is now equipped with rain-sensing wipers and automatic headlights (unique to this segment as far as I’m aware) cruise control, trip computer (with added outside temperature, fuel consumption and distance to empty for the fuel tank) and climate control air conditioning as standard.
With power windows, mirror and front foglamps, 6 CD 4 speaker audio system with MP3 capability, the Mazda2 Genki seems to tick all the boxes. However one of the biggest let downs is that there is no USB audio input (only an AUX jack) and no Bluetooth. While you can get Bluetooth fitted at a dealership after, for the $22,145 price tag, should you really have to? A centre console is definitely missed however the glove box design allows you to simply drop stuff into an open gap at the top without needing to open it!
One of my favourite features about the Mazda2 is the excellent visibility – it is simply unrivalled in this segment. An added bonus of the large amounts of glass is the sense of spaciousness and light that it brings to the little Mazda.
Boasting a 5 star ANCAP rating the Mazda2 Genki is equipped with all the necessary passive and active safety equipment. It really is a combination of inviting and quirky design, segment first introductions, superb handling and an attractive price that make the Mazda2 Genki such a popular car. For those looking in the light car segment, it’s hard to ignore the Mazda2. With just enough MX-5 DNA to give this diminutive little city car a sporty punch, the Mazda2 Genki provides an exciting, practical and functional driving experience for all!