Mazda has dropped all three variants of the Mazda 2 -- Neo, Maxx and Genki – replacing them with two new ones: the Neo Sport and Maxx Sport. But buyers who expect handling or performance upgrades to match the new name will be disappointed.
The Sport moniker is simply to differentiate the new range from the previous one. Unlike rivals such as the Suzuki Swift -- where the Sport name brings more power, reduced weight and upgraded suspension and braking -- the Mazda 2 Sport models offer only cosmetic and equipment changes.
Under the bonnet is the same 1.5-litre 76kW unit as before, attached to either a 5 speed manual or 4 speed automatic. The entry-level Neo Sport matches the outgoing model's entry level price of $15,790 price for a manual or $17,440 for the automatic, but now includes 15-inch alloy wheels.
The big winner is the Maxx Sport, which builds on the old Maxx equipment list and adds fog lamps, chrome exhaust and trip computer. A refreshed interior has also been added, with red stitching on the seats, and red leather steering wheel.
Opt for the manual and you’ll also get a leather gear shift knob. The Maxx Sport also scores standard climate control, and an ambient temperature readout in the instrument cluster.
The extra equipment on the Maxx Sport represents $1200 worth of value over the old Maxx model. To further sweeten the deal, Mazda has priced the Maxx Sport $760 lower than the outgoing Maxx. This brings the new range-topper’s price down to $16,930 for the manual and $18,580 for the automatic.
The now discontinued $20,495 Genki ($22,145 for the auto) was the last Mazda 2 to feature automatic rain sensing wipers, side skirts, 16-inch alloy wheels and automatic headlights. Of these, only the side skirts are now available as optional equipment, with the rest of the equipment now discontinued from the range.
Mazda sold 1106 of the Mazda 2 in July; 156 units behind the top-placed Hyundai i20, and just 50 behind the Toyota Yaris. Mazda hopes the refreshed range will help it claw back to the top of the sales ladder - a position it held until earlier this year.
To help achieve this task, the Mazda 2 has also borrowed two new colours from its recently introduced bigger sibling, the Mazda 6. Available across the range at no extra cost are Jet Black Mica and Blue Reflex Mica, bringing the total colour choices to eight.