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Mazda 2 Neo 2020 discontinued: Light car moving upmarket with higher safety and price

The removal of the base Mazda 2 Neo means the light car range will kick off with the Maxx after next year's update.

Mazda Australia will discontinue its entry-level Mazda 2 Neo light hatchback, raising the point of entry to the Japanese brand from $15,320 before on-road costs to about $18,000 in a bid to move upmarket and keep all its models flush with the latest safety technologies.

Though not yet confirmed by the car-making brand, documentation seen by CarsGuide reveal that the facelifted Mazda 2 range due to launch early next year will kick off with the higher-spec and more powerful Maxx variant.

CarsGuide understands the Neo made up a significant portion of the Mazda 2’s variant mix, but the discontinuation could be a bid to lift the standard safety equipment of the light car range as Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) crash test criteria tightens.

As such, the Maxx grade will come standard with blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and Mazda’s ‘Smart City Brake Support’ autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection.

The higher Genki grade – available in five-door hatchback body style only – will gain lane-keep assist and traffic sign recognition, while the flagship GT adds a surround-view monitor and adaptive cruise control.

Although pricing is yet to be confirmed for the updated range, the current Maxx grade kicks off at $18,080 before on-road costs.

All versions of the Mazda 2 are powered by a 1.5-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder petrol engine, but the Neo variant was tuned to 79kW/139Nm, while the rest of the line-up feature 81kW/141Nm.

Furthermore, Mazda will also discontinue the manual gearbox option for all Mazda 2 grades barring the Maxx, with the Genki and GT both going automatic only.

The rest of the changes in the lightly refreshed Mazda 2 are expected to mirror its Japanese counterpart that was revealed in July, with a revised front bumper and ‘G-Vectoring Control Plus’ torque vectoring.

The Mazda 2’s move mirrors the step-up in price for the new-generation Mazda 3 small car, which now starts at $24,990 and launched in April.

Is Mazda ready to graduate from mainstream to premium brand? Tell us what you think in the comments below.