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Mazda 2 Genki hatch 2017 review

EXPERT RATING
7.9
While our smallest vehicles have never been better, fewer people are buying them. None of which bodes well for the for the Mazda2 Genki hatch, which, as it turns out, is very good indeed.

It's an unhappy coincidence of the city car world that, while our smallest vehicles have never been better, fewer people are buying them than ever before.

Back when they felt like they were built using the aluminium that seals Milo tins and were as safe to handle as a ninja throwing star we were snapping them up in huge numbers. But for whatever reason (most experts just mumble the term 'SUV' a lot), the better they've gotten, and the less we've wanted them.

None of which bodes well for the for the Mazda2 Genki hatch, which, as it turns out, is very good indeed.

Mazda 2 2017: Genki
Safety rating
Engine Type1.5L
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency4.9L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$18,990

Is there anything interesting about its design?  7/10

While taste is hugely subjective, for mine the Mazda2 hatch is the only car in the Japanese brand's model line-up that doesn't make complete sense, design-wise.

The 2 looks a little too busy and a touch out of proportion, especially at the rear. (Image credit: Andrew Chesterton) The 2 looks a little too busy and a touch out of proportion, especially at the rear. (Image credit: Andrew Chesterton)

Yes, it shares the familiar grille and basic styling of the Mazda family, but with less surface area to play with, the 2 ends up looking a little too busy and a touch out of proportion, especially at the rear.

But one thing it doesn't look is cheap. The shining alloys, the chrome-ringed grille and the complicated headlight clusters all combine to add a sense of presence to the pint-sized Mazda.

Inside, it does a commendable job of not feeling like a cheap(ish) city car, with the rock-hard door plastics interspersed with padded strips of stitched fabric, and a genuinely lovely soft-touch panel that runs from the steering wheel all the way to the passenger door.

The alloys, the chrome-ringed grille and the complicated headlight clusters add a sense of presence to the pint-sized Mazda. (Image credit: Andrew Chesterton) The alloys, the chrome-ringed grille and the complicated headlight clusters add a sense of presence to the pint-sized Mazda. (Image credit: Andrew Chesterton)

The same cushioning lines the edge of the centre console that your knee touches when driving, which is a thoughtful and effective nod to your comfort.

How practical is the space inside?  8/10

Small cars are about a trade-off, and so while parking is easy, cabin space is not great. As a result, it feels a little cramped up front, while putting three adults in the back will likely encourage intervention from the United Nations.

The Genki gets a reversing camera and parking sensors at the rear. (Image credit: Andrew Chesterton) The Genki gets a reversing camera and parking sensors at the rear. (Image credit: Andrew Chesterton)

But while there's no escaping it's a small car, it has been cleverly packaged - and like a bigger Mazda's been shrunk in the wash. The new steering wheel is smaller, and so are the air-con dials in the centre of the cabin, both of which help give a sense of space for front seat riders.

Up front, you'll find push-button start, twin USB points, along with an SD card reader and a 12 volt power outlet. Elsewhere, expect two cupholders up front, and big door pockets that will swallow wine-sized bottles. Storage options are a little limited elsewhere, though, with a small glove box and a tiny little bin in the centre console that doesn't hold much.

The rear seat offers enough room for two adults, provided those in front are under six-foot. But there's no rear vents, power sources or USB inputs, and no pockets in the rear doors, let alone room in them for bottles. Your storage options are essentially limited to a tiny sleeve fitted to the passenger seat, and whatever you can carry in your pockets.

The greatest hits on the Genki's exterior features list include 16-inch alloy wheels. (Image credit: Andrew Chesterton) The greatest hits on the Genki's exterior features list include 16-inch alloy wheels. (Image credit: Andrew Chesterton)

The boot opens to reveal a useable little space that will swallow 250 litres of stuff - growing to 852 litres with the 60/40 rear seat folded flat -  with a space-saver spare hidden under a hard cover.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?  7/10

The entire 2 range was updated in April, with Mazda tweaking its city car's on-road manners and refinement, and adding some clever safety kit to the more expensive models, including the Genki we've tested here.

While parking is easy, cabin space is not great. (Image credit: Andrew Chesterton) While parking is easy, cabin space is not great. (Image credit: Andrew Chesterton)

The Genki hovers near the top of the Mazda2 family tree, below the newly introduced top-spec GT and above the L- and P-plate adorned, entry-level Neo and mid-spec Maxx. It's also the only model in the Mazda2 line-up that is hatch-only, with the (weirder-looking) sedan offered in Neo, Maxx and GT trim levels only.

It's also not particularly cheap, requiring a $22,690 investment to secure the automatic version we're driving here ($2k less if you go for the manual gearbox), sitting it light years above the $14,990 (manual) Neo, and pushing it firmly into the price range of cars at least one size bigger.

Springing for the GT will really only nab you a more premium-feeling interior and a better class of alloy.

But you get plenty of bang for those bucks, at least. The greatest hits on the Genki's exterior features list include 16-inch alloy wheels, LED DRLs and LED front fog lights and headlights.

Inside, expect a nav-equipped 7.0-inch touchscreen that gets DAB and will work with your phone's music apps like Pandora (but there's no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto). It's paired with a six-speaker stereo, while a leather-wrapped wheel, gear shift and handbrake help lift the cabin ambience.

Inside, it does a commendable job of not feeling like a cheap(ish) city car. (Image credit: Andrew Chesterton) Inside, it does a commendable job of not feeling like a cheap(ish) city car. (Image credit: Andrew Chesterton)

What do you miss out on? Not much. In fact, springing for the GT will really only nab you a more premium-feeling interior and a better class of alloy. That is provided you're comparing hatch to hatch, of course, as jumping from the Maxx to the GT in the sedan range nets a far bigger range of goodies.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?  8/10

There are two tunes for the Mazda2's 1.5-litre petrol engine, with the Genki (and the GT above it) getting the more powerful option.

That means your accelerator will unlock 81kW at 6000rpm and 141Nm at 4000rpm, and while that doesn't sound like a Nurburgring-crushing set of numbers, it's more than enough to get the 1053kg Genki up and moving in the city.

That power is fed through a conventional six-speed automatic transmission and sent exclusively to the front wheels. It's enough to push from 0-100km/h in 10.0 seconds.

How much fuel does it consume?  9/10

The Mazda2 Genki's official fuel numbers are a miserly claimed/combined 4.9L/100km, and the 44-litre tank will sip cheaper 91RON fuel. Emissions are pegged at 114g/km of C02.

What's it like to drive?  8/10

It was the kind of weather that would have had biblical types building an ark and gathering animals when we set off on our test of the Mazda2 Genki.

There are two tunes for the Mazda2's 1.5-litre petrol engine, with the Genki getting the more powerful option. (Image credit: Andrew Chesterton) There are two tunes for the Mazda2's 1.5-litre petrol engine, with the Genki getting the more powerful option. (Image credit: Andrew Chesterton)

Traditionally, torrential downpours are the sworn enemy of light city cars that can feel like they'll be swept away in the torrents. But the Mazda2 didn't. In fact, it was stoic in the face of all a Sydney storm could throw at it, powering through standing water and feeling easy to control throughout.

An eventual break in the weather allowed us to put the little Mazda through its paces, and it's surprisingly dynamic. Sure, the engine won't offer enough power to set your pulse racing, but the combination of direct steering and engaged suspension inspire enough confidence to carry almost enough speed through bends to compensate for the lack of out-and-out pace.

In the city, acceleration is near-enough perfect, with an instant flow of torque from a standstill that makes it plenty perky in the CBD.

The boot opens to reveal a useable little space that will swallow 250 litres of stuff. (Image credit: Andrew Chesterton) The boot opens to reveal a useable little space that will swallow 250 litres of stuff. (Image credit: Andrew Chesterton)

Freeway driving presents something of a challenge, with the Mazda2 hovering at 3000rpm at 110km/h, with the six-speed gearbox unsure of what ratio it should be in, swapping between fifth and sixth at will. But then this isn't its natural environment, and it can knock off the occasional freeway cruise without argument.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

3 years / unlimited km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?  9/10

Standard safety is a Mazda strong suit, and the Mazda2 punches above its (feather) weight right across the board. The Genki, then, gets front, side and curtain airbags, along with a reversing camera and parking sensors at the rear. There are also two ISOFIX child restraint anchor locations in the rear.

But you can also expect AEB that will work in both directions, blind-spot monitoring and a rear-cross traffic alert system. All of which helps add up to a maximum five-star ANCAP rating.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?  7/10

Mazda's three-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty is looking a little underdone in the city-car segment (even Skoda is offering a five-year plan now), but the capped-price servicing plan does help take the guess work out of future servicing costs.

The space-saver spare hides under a hard cover. (Image credit: Andrew Chesterton) The space-saver spare hides under a hard cover. (Image credit: Andrew Chesterton)

In fact, over the first five years scheduled maintenance prices are $286, $314, $286, $314, and $286 for a total of $1486. You'll also need to factor in a cabin air filter every 40k ($80), and brake fluid every 40k/two years ($64).

Plus, Mazda lists everything that's inspected, serviced or changed at each interval on its website.

Pricing Guides

$15,990
Based on 73 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$10,990
Highest Price
$20,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Genki 1.5L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $18,990 – 20,990 2017 MAZDA 2 2017 Genki Pricing and Specs
GT 1.5L, ULP, 6 SP MAN $16,990 – 19,999 2017 MAZDA 2 2017 GT Pricing and Specs
Maxx 1.5L, ULP, 6 SP MAN $15,777 – 15,990 2017 MAZDA 2 2017 Maxx Pricing and Specs
Neo 1.5L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $15,836 – 15,999 2017 MAZDA 2 2017 Neo Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.9
Design7
Practicality8
Price and features7
Engine & trans8
Fuel consumption9
Driving8
Safety9
Ownership7

“It's a shame the Mazda2 Genki competes in a segment that's fading in relevance. It's comfortable, practical enough, and well-equipped. And it's positively loaded with top-spec safety gear.”

Could the Mazda2 Genki tempt you into a light hatch? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Andrew Chesterton
Contributing journalist

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