2023 Mazda 2 G15 Pure SP review

14 minutes, 35 seconds Read

Mazda’s city-sized hatchback shows that reinventing your style is more than enough to get you talked about. But is there more to the Mazda 2 than just sharp new looks? Kez Casey finds out.

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What we love
  • New look is bold and stylish
  • Quite agile and fun to drive
  • Compact dimensions are a great fit for city streets
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What we don’t
  • Laggy, outdated infotainment system
  • Lack of interior storage
  • Frustrating auto transmission programming

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2023 Mazda 2 G15 Pure SP

Is the Mazda 2 the Madonna, the Kylie Minogue, the Lady Gaga of the motoring world? Bold, effortlessly stylish, and capable of reinventing itself to appeal to new audiences.

From a high-roofed, cargo carrier – following in the footsteps of the 121 before it – to a chic driver’s delight today, the Mazda 2 has taken a number of shapes, been dressed in a rainbow of on-trend hues, and has maintained a popular appeal in Australia’s Light Car sales segment. Not always the leader, but with prominent sales nonetheless.

In the case of the 2023 Mazda 2 range, Mazda has taken the third-generation model – on sale in Australia since 2014 – and given it a fresh makeover, a playful new face, and a fresh colour palette for summer… and beyond.

The serious and sophisticated small car in a suit, with chrome trim and a formal interior has given way to a more active vibe that leans into the energy of the younger buyer set that make up a significant proportion of the Mazda 2’s buying audience. If you’re shopping for the lower-priced Pure and Pure SP models you get a much more ‘fun’ aesthetic, while the Evolve and GT at the top of the range opt for a more formal, if still style-led, visage.

How much does the Mazda 2 cost in Australia?

Like so many other brands in Australia, Mazda hasn’t been able to outrun pricing pressures and the Mazda 2 reflects this.

The most basic models in the range have gone up by $900 over their pre-update equivalent, but the Pure SP shown here gets the biggest price bump – up $1200 over the model it replaces.

Pricing for the Mazda 2 G15 Pure SP starts from $25,520 plus on-road costs. Some of the available metallic paint hues are a no-cost option (Aluminium, Aero Grey, Snowflake White Pearl, and Air Stream Blue), but premium shades come at a $595 premium (including Machine Grey, Polymetal Grey, Platinum Quartz, and Soul Red Crystal).

Other than that, the Mazda 2 range is fairly simple. The entry-level Pure kicks things off, the sporty-styled Pure SP adds some athletic styling details, the Evolve offers a mid-spec level of equipment, and the GT packs in all of the available equipment you could want. Only the Pure offers a manual option, with the Pure SP, Evolve and GT all auto-only.

Some new features on the base grades include rain-sensing wipers, LED headlights with a new dusk-sensing feature, auto-folding exterior mirrors, plus carryover equipment like a 7.0-inch infotainment screen, six-speaker stereo, rear-view camera and rear park sensors, power windows with auto up-down on the front, manual air conditioning, cruise control and 15-inch alloy wheels.

Move up to the Pure SP and the 15-inch wheels get swapped for gloss black 16-inch multi-spoke wheels, plus black mirror caps, a shark fin antenna on the roof – and in a Mazda first, a black carbon-look wrap on the roof. It’s not the stuff of hot hatches, but it is a neat package to help boost the aesthetic appeal of Mazda’s smallest model.

Key details 2023 Mazda 2 G15 Pure SP
Price $25,520 plus on-road costs
Colour of test car Air Stream Blue
Options None
Price as tested $25,520 plus on-road costs
Drive-away price $29,488 (Melbourne)
Rivals MG 3 | Suzuki Swift | Toyota Yaris

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How much space does the Mazda 2 have inside?

In terms of space and passenger accommodation inside the Mazda 2, nothing has changed since this model was first introduced in 2014. With a focus on style over outright practicality, the Mazda 2 may not be the ultimate friends and furniture hauler.

That’s okay, though. For two occupants there’s space up front, and a good degree of seat adjustability. In the rear, it’s more a case of short trips and smaller shopping sprees.

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Cloth seat trim, manually adjusted seats (with height adjustment for the driver), but leather trim on the steering wheel, gear selector, and hand brake strike the right balance of smart styling and nice touchpoints. As a neat touch, if you opt for an Air Stream Blue exterior you get a matching ‘Mint’ decor panel on the dash, for all other colours this is either black or white.

Ahead of the driver there’s an analog speedo and LCD displays for the tacho and trip computer. It’s an old-school solution in an era of TFT-screen digital displays. You miss out on a digital speed readout too, on the Pure and Pure SP grades.

Mazda has been a bit measly with the interior storage. There’s a regular-sized glovebox, and a bottle holder in each front door, but there are no full-size door pockets, and no lidded console (and therefore no armrest). You can position a pair of beverages in the cupholders, though they are a long way back and not easy to reach.

The final insult is the nook at the base of the centre stack. It lacks wireless charging, but that’s okay because it’s actually too narrow for a phone to sit flat on. It’ll do for a wallet or keys, but anything else can slide out at the first hint of a corner.

As is typical of the Light Car class, the rear seats don’t slide or recline, there are no rear air vents, no fold-down armrest, and no USB charge parts (just the two up front). That’s not so unusual, and the rear seat is comfy enough on its own, but there’s not much knee room, head room is tight for most adults, and the rising belt line limits visibility out the side windows.

Boot space, at 250 litres, is on par with rivals like the Suzuki Swift (242L) and Toyota Yaris (270L), but in the Mazda’s case the boot is quite deep with a prominent load lip to clear. There’s a hard cargo cover, but no bag hooks or tie-down points. Rear seats can be folded to free up more space, but they don’t fold completely flat and still occupy a fair chunk of space when folded.

2023 Mazda 2 G15 Pure SP
Seats Five
Boot volume 250L seats up
Length 4085mm
Width 1695mm
Height 1495mm
Wheelbase 2570mm

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Does the Mazda 2 have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto?

All variants of the 2023 Mazda 2 range feature a 7.0-inch display. It plays host to AM/FM/DAB+ radio, Bluetooth, and wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

As has been the case throughout the Mazda 2’s model run, the screen can be used as a touchscreen when stopped, but while on the move access is via a rotary controller on the console. It’s a simple and intuitive system to use, though shorter drivers may find the control dial placed a little too far back to reach easily.

The system itself is old, first introduced in 2014, and hasn’t been updated since. While it’s mostly stable, the graphics and animations can stutter and at first start the MZD Connect software can take minutes to load, leaving you without access to any of its functions until the boot-up is complete. Mazda has introduced a newer system on other models in its range, but the Mazda 2 misses out.

The six-speaker audio system sounds decent, but won’t push the limits of audio fidelity. It’s good enough to crank up for an impromptu carpool karaoke session, though.

Despite the system name ‘MZD Connect’, Mazda doesn’t have a companion app or any kind of remote connectivity on the Mazda 2 range.

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Is the Mazda 2 a safe car?

Mazda 2 models currently on sale in Australia (from January 2023) are officially unrated by ANCAP with no current assessment available. Older models of this generation model did previously carry a five-star rating based on testing to ANCAP’s 2015 criteria. As the safety body evolves its testing procedures and required safety systems over time, an earlier rating may not be the equivalent of a more recent result. 

2023 Mazda 2 G15 Pure SP
ANCAP rating Unrated

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What safety technology does the Mazda 2 have?

All Mazda 2 models in the updated range come with forward autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection, rear park sensors, rear cross-traffic alert with rear collision braking function, lane-keep assist, lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, and six airbags (front, side and curtain on both sides).

The rear seats feature two ISOFIX child seat mounting points, and three top tether anchorages. Cruise control and a reverse camera are also available across the range. The next grade up Evolve adds traffic sign recognition and a flip-up head-up display, but if you step up to the top-spec GT model you’ll find front park sensors, adaptive cruise control, and 360-degree cameras.

Mazda’s suite of safety tech looks comprehensive but some features are missing – like lane centring and driver fatigue monitoring. The lane-assist system is a little slow to react and capable of letting the car drift out of its lane with minimal intervention.

How much does the Mazda 2 cost to maintain?

Mazda offers capped-price genuine servicing, allowing you to get an idea of the price of scheduled servicing before each service is due. In the case of the Mazda 2, the capped-price program runs for up to seven years, with each service due at 12-month or 15,000km intervals.

Servicing costs aren’t some of the cheapest in the market, but aren’t excessive either. Over three years you’ll pay $1256, up to five years will cost $2116, and if you hang onto your car for seven years you’ll pay $3037.

Warranty coverage spans five years with no kilometre limit. Roadside assist is also included for five years and can be called on for things like flat tyres, breakdown assistance, flat batteries, locked-in keys and more.

In terms of insurance costs, we got a $1043 annual premium based on a comparative quote for a 35-year-old male driver living in Chatswood, NSW. Insurance estimates may vary based on your location, driving history, and personal circumstances. When looking at rivals with a similar starting price, the Mazda proved cheap compared to the $1163 we were quoted for a Suzuki Swift, and a substantial $1436 quote for a Toyota Yaris.

At a glance 2023 Mazda 2 G15 Pure SP
Warranty Five years, unlimited km
Service intervals 12 months or 15,000km
Servicing costs $1256 (3 years)
$2116 (5 years)

Is the Mazda 2 fuel-efficient?

On paper, the Mazda 2’s claimed 5.0 litres per 100 kilometres fuel consumption looks pretty sharp, and in an ideal world you might get there. In the real world the Mazda 2 is a touch thirstier, though not outrageously so.

Instead of chasing efficiency, I spent my week mostly running to and from work in peak Melbourne traffic, keeping pace with other road users, and keeping cool with the air con on. There were a few short highway stints, but the bulk of travel for this little city car was on little city streets. By the end of the week, consumption had settled at an average of 6.8L/100km.

The Mazda 2 has an engine stop-start system that switches the engine off when stopped (but you’ll need a firm press on the brake pedal) and refires as you move off. It helps prevent wasting fuel when stopped, and no doubt made some contribution to the sub-7L/100km fuel figure we reached.

The little Mazda is also happy to run on regular unleaded, with no need for more expensive premium.

Fuel Useage Fuel Stats
Fuel cons. (claimed) 5.0L/100km
Fuel cons. (on test) 6.8L/100km
Fuel type 91-octane unleaded
Fuel tank size 44L

What is the Mazda 2 like to drive?

Just as the appearance and equipment of the Mazda 2 have been upgraded over its nine-year (and counting) model run, the engine and dynamics have also been very, very subtly tweaked. If you bought a 2014 Mazda 2 you’d have the firepower of 79kW of engine power at your disposal, compared to today… with 81kW.

In reality, you probably won’t notice that difference by the seat of your pants. You may be more likely to notice that, over the years, the ride has been finessed (via suspension tune changes) and the handling made more pert (with a feature called G-Vectoring Control). None of these changes completely transform the on-road experience, but the Mazda 2 was decent to begin with, so it’s only been lightly honed as it ages.

As is the case with so many cars in its class, the Mazda 2 isn’t quick in terms of acceleration, but it is perky enough to keep up with flowing traffic, and it’s a rewarding drive. The steering lends itself to easy parking, but it’s unafraid of being tipped into a corner on a winding road. There’s darty handling and secure roadholding that is reassuring, and just a little fun.

There are downsides. The six-speed auto can feel a bit dimwitted at times. This type of traditional automatic isn’t always a great match with small engines, and here it has two behavioural quirks.

Around town it’s fine accelerating through the gears, but if you push hard on the accelerator for a burst of speed, it is usually reluctant to change down gears, and can feel laggy. In stark contrast at higher speeds, around 80–110km/h, it will constantly shuffle and hunt through gears to maintain speed. Even a small push on the accelerator or a minor incline with have revs jumping up.

It’s not a bad car in terms of refinement. No car of this size is library-like when it comes to road noise, but the Mazda 2 is suitable for hours at the wheel on the open road. There is some tyre noise, but never too much. The biggest blight on refinement comes from pushing the engine hard, where it can get buzzy and feed vibrations back into the cabin.

While the ‘SP’ branding might hint at sporting intent, the suspension tune is the same as other models in the range, so there’s no stiffer, lower suspension. The result is a nicely rounded ride that can soak up most bumps without feeling rough or harsh.

Key details 2023 Mazda 2 G15 Pure SP
Engine 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol
Power 81kW @ 6000rpm
Torque 142Nm @ 3500rpm
Drive type Front-wheel drive
Transmission 6-speed torque converter automatic
Power-to-weight ratio 73kW/t
Weight 1109kg
Spare tyre type Space-saver
Tow rating 900kg braked
500kg unbraked
Turning circle 9.8m

Should I buy a Mazda 2?

Mazda faces some stiff competition in this segment. The newer and more high-tech Toyota Yaris offers a good balance of features and equipment, the Suzuki Swift is set to be renewed with an all-new model next year, and the Kia Picanto offers compelling value – with an updated model on the way.

The Mazda, on the other hand, tries to be a touch more premium, but the age of the underlying car shows – especially when it comes to the interior design, driver interface, and laggy infotainment. For all of that, though, the Mazda 2 remains a user-friendly compact car, with a stylish exterior and endearing driving dynamics.

It’s not a car to steer clear of – but it is one to weigh up the pros and cons of carefully. It’s a master of reinvention on the outside, while holding onto some more traditional aspects inside. It’ll make a great backdrop to Instagram road trip posts, and be able to keep you entertained along the way.

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How do I buy a Mazda 2 – next steps?

The Mazda 2 range offers a few different steps through the range, but unless you simply must have one with the lot, I’d suggest skipping the fully loaded GT model and keeping it relatively simple with the Pure SP. It has decent equipment already, but a few little visual enhancements to give it some zing.

Pick a bold colour too. There’s a selection of silvers and greys. Ignore those and opt for Air Stream Blue (a Mazda 2 exclusive) or Soul Red Crystal (a timeless classic).

Mazda Australia says there’s no wait for stock, with a range of cars available in all trim grades ready to go at dealers. You can also find Mazdas for sale at Drive.com.au/cars-for-sale. Or locate your nearest dealer here.

Ratings Breakdown

2023 Mazda 2 G15 Pure SP Hatchback

7.2/ 10

Performance

Safety Technology

Ride Quality

Infotainment & Connectivity

Handling & Dynamics

Energy Efficiency

Driver Technology

Value for Money

Interior Comfort & Packaging

Fit for Purpose

Kez Casey migrated from behind spare parts counters to writing about cars over ten years ago. Raised by a family of automotive workers, Kez grew up in workshops and panel shops before making the switch to reviews and road tests for The Motor Report, Drive and CarAdvice.

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This post was originally published on this site

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