I will always have a soft spot for Mazda products. My parent’s first new car they could afford at the time was a 1980 Mazda GLC. I remember loving seeing the shiny paint work and new car smell. It was something I had never experienced before in my life.
During this same time I also had a crazy uncle who used to come down to Durban, my home town, from Johannesburg, and party as hard and in as many pubs and clubs as he could in one weekend. His mode of transportation was an obscenely quick for the day Mazda Capella Rotary.
My face would light up every time he would come swaggering into our place without a care in the world and offer to take me for a spin. Much to my mother’s disgust, this spin would always end up with a quick stop at the pub and a firm visual warning from my uncle that I was to zip it and tell no tales. The ride home there and back was loud and leery. I loved it. Men were men back then and political correctness unheard of. They smoked filterless cigarettes, they drank hard liquor and womanised. Life was lived flat out and for him that meant an early death in that same Capella Rotary.
My sister also enters this nostalgic look back, her first car became a now somewhat 20-year older Mazda GLC that my dad painted bright pink for her. It was horrific to look at, but it was as reliable as the day it was new. While I guess we might see a high-performance rotary from Mazda in the future, driven by a gender-neutral person vaping away and sipping vitamin water, it is in this reputation of reliability that most of Mazda’s strength lies today for a consumer in my opinion. And this past week was all about Mazda’s refreshed 2 that features slightly tweaked styling and safety.
I was city commuting in Individual manual version that retails for a suggested price of R302 400. Visually, you see the latest incarnation of Mazda’s Kodo design and this basically means a new grille, revised lights in LED format, a redesigned rear bumper and riding on gloss painted 16- inch alloys. I couldn’t really tell the difference and I doubt many others will either.
Inside, the changes are just as subtle with slight revisions to the dashboard trim, air vents, door cards and instrument cluster. They offer what can be seen as upgrades to an already upmarket interior. The improved and quieter interior of this Mazda2 impressed me with its minimalist yet functional approach.
While still offering the likes of keyless entry, auto on/off headlamps, rain sensing wipers, a Bluetooth hands-free system across the range, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, reverse camera and rear parking sensors, as well a full suite of safety systems from side and curtain airbags to Dynamic Stability Control (DSC).
On the road, the handling is light and easy, just as you would expect from a compact hatch and equally as expected, the 85kW/148Nm, 1.5-litre naturally aspirated engine here up on the Reef offered no fireworks. You can’t but help feel that something like a 1.0-litre turbocharged engine under the bonnet would make for a slightly better driving experience. The positive is that when making easy use of the slick shifting six-speed manual gearbox, I returned a very good, mostly city, return of 6.4l/100km.
Completing the package is a three-year unlimited kilometre service plan, three-year factory warranty, three-year roadside assistance and five-year corrosion warranty. At the R300k price point, there is fierce competition in this segment and, as good as the Mazda2 is, it doesn’t offer you anything you can’t find elsewhere for the same money.
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