Competition in the light cars class is fierce and each year keeps delivering better quality and value. However, the tried and proven formula of the entry-level Mazda2 Maxx’s solid value in an easy-to-drive and live with package has given it the win this year.
Price in this category is very important, which goes some way to explaining why Mazda’s volume-selling Maxx model is one of their cheaper models. While some other cars in the class may be cheaper, the Maxx offers competitive value for money. Built for the city, light vehicles must make the most of their modest cabin space and the Mazda2’s interior is functional, the seats are comfortable, and most drivers will appreciate the simple, easy-to-use layout of the instrumentation and controls.
The Maxx gets a slightly has the basic 1.5-litre SkyActiv engine but its power is delivered smoothly and efficiently by a smooth six-speed automatic and the performance is still better than most others at this budget-focused end of the market. While you don’t buy a light car solely because of its handling characteristics, the Mazda2 does deliver one of the best driving experiences in the class. Mazda’s G-Vectoring Control assists in this competent handling, which is also used in the Mazda3 and Mazda6. Direct steering and a small turning circle make city driving a real breeze. Its road holding and cornering abilities are impressive, while the ride, although firm, is fairly compliant.
Light cars are often noisy because the chase for lighter design means noise-deadening material is used sparingly, but Mazda has worked on this problem using a noise-insulating windscreen, along with new engine and luggage compartment insulation and damping material to make the cabin quieter.
The small size of the cars in this category means buyers look for a higher level of safety to give more peace of mind and Mazda’s version of autonomous emergency braking is standard even on the base Maxx.
Mazda have continued to make incremental changes and additions to the models in their range while maintaining the price point. The Mazda2 has benefitted from this treatment to remain a class leader in a value conscience end of the market and take out a win this year.
Indicative drive-away: $22,884
Body type: five-door hatch
Fuel economy/fuel type: 4.9L/100km, ULP
Engine/transmission: 1.5-litre four-cylinder, six-speed automatic
ANCAP: 5 stars