How the 'S' word has Mazda reaching for the sky with its new '2' supermini
First things first. SKYACTIV technology. Everywhere you turn with Mazda the 'S word' appears.
I think a lot of people are still confused. Might they think it is some sort of TV device or deal? They might. It's not. It's about improving every - and I mean every - little aspect of a car, but particularly engines and transmissions, suspension etc.
It's a sort of a philosophy of getting the most from everything - and then some more. So who am I to quibble over a name? Well, I do, but we're stuck with it. And they intend sticking with the philosophy. One Mazda executive told me they are absolutely intent on getting hybrid-fuel consumption from a petrol engine - no turbos, nothing, just engineering. Fair dues.
All this is by way of telling you about my first drive in the new Mazda2 supermini and means I haven't to use the 'S' word any more.
The '2' gets here next month and prices start from €15,995 ex-works.
There will be two versions (75bhp/90bhp) of the 1.5-litre petrol (never mind the size, look at the mpg) and a 1.5-litre 105bhp diesel.
The economy is impressive. The 1.5-litre 75bhp petrol manages 4.7l/100km and 110g/km (with 5spd manual). The 90bhp returns 4.5l/100km and105g/km (with 5spd manual) and 4.8l/100km and 112g/km (with 6spd auto). The diesel delivers a claimed 83mpg and 89g/km.
The thing with these new Mazdas is they are nearly always significantly better than they appear on first acquaintance.
This all-new '2' has a lot packed in and much of that will show itself over the years. I felt it a car for the long haul.
But it's no revolution to look at or drive and its starting SE grade/price of €15,995 does not include the likes of Bluetooth or the 7ins display screen.
There are four grades: SE, Executive, Executive SE and GT. Executive looks a good bet with air con, Bluetooth and cruise control. Executive SE has the 7ins colour touchscreen.
The front is strong on design, the side and rear fairly muted. The profile reminded me a little, just a little, of the old 121 with its high curved roof. That creates more rear space (headroom especially) than this car is given credit for and I had decent room at the front as well. The boot is okay but no more than that.
We drove several versions under typical town/commute conditions. They were all comfortable and we sensed the build quality but there was noticeable road noise and quite a bit when we traversed any sort of road markings. I thought the 75bhp version - likely to be most in demand - had plenty of energy. I'm not sure you need the 90bhp.
However, the 90bhp version with the 6spd automatic transmission was particularly good. We get calls here from people looking for a small automatic car so I'm just highlighting it.
A few other aspects, good and bad, stood out. The way it is set up means the car was light and easy to drive.
The materials used in the cabin were of a decent standard, especially the plastic. And the 5spd gear-change was really easy and smooth - all important factors in urban driving.
Part of their brief was to set the cabin back a bit. So they shifted the front pillars by 80mm. That has had the effect of giving the impression the car is longer than it is when you are driving. However, it contributes to one drawback.
When I sat in and my door was wide open I had to really stretch to reach the handle to close it. And I have long arms. A smaller person would have difficulties.
Another little thing. The boot opening slot. It has a little tray-like area for your fingers to slip in and press the button to open. But if the car is on even a slight forward slope and it has been raining, there could be a puddle. .
Other information worth having includes the fact the cars are being built in Thailand, the stop/start system is standard, there's a longer wheelbase, shorter overhangs help create space and the suspension is lighter but stiffer.
Some versions have the brand's connectivity system, which works with iPhone or Android smartphones so you can access free mobile content via the cloud platform-based service Aha.