Richard Berry road tests and reviews the 2016 Mazda2 Sedan Maxx auto with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.
Peru, Chile, Tunisia, Israel, Oman, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Australia. No, not the top 10 countries with the worst roads. Not a list of places where it’s a good idea to wear shoes outside. And no it isn’t the route the ancient ancestors of Australia took to get here. These are actually the countries that thought it would be a good idea to sell the sedan version of the little Mazda2.
Small sedans aren’t very popular in Australia. It’s all to do with a psychology idea called Norm Theory, which proposes that you’ll tend to mimic what the majority of other people do. It explains why adult Velcro shoes never took off. Even though Velcro does the same thing laces do but even better, for some reason we persist with tying our shoes like our feet are wearing mini-corsets. Not enough people did Velcro to lead to us all into doing it.
The same applies with small cars these days, hatchbacks are now the norm. They didn’t used to be, but the swing to hatchbacks in the 1980s has endured so strongly that it’s totally understandable if you thought all little cars were hatches. But did you know you can walk into a dealership and get Holden Barina sedan? Or Toyota Yaris sedan or a Mitsubishi Mirage with a boot? I know, weird.
Mazda Australia says only 15 per cent of buyers will go for the sedan Mazda2 over the hatch, but they’d be mad not to have while their competitors did – why give them your 15 per cent?
You know how they say beauty is in the eye of the beholder? It’s not - we all know what looks good.
That partly explains why the Mazda2 sedan was given the green light for Australia. It also came down to looks. The Aussie Mazda team didn’t plan to sell it initially because little sedans tend to look like dropped pies, but then they changed their minds.
“When we first saw the design for the Mazda2 sedan we decided it was a must-have car. Often B-segment sedans can lack style and design flow, but we believe the Mazda2 sedan is the best looking of its type in its segment,” Mazda Australia managing director Martin Benders says.
With that the second generation a Mazda2 sedan arrived here in late 2015, nine months after the hatch went on sale.
For this road test, our guinea pig was the Mazda2 sedan with an automatic transmission in the Maxx specification which sits above the entry level Neo. The Maxx is the mid-spec variant in the hatch range, but it’s the king of the sedan line-up.
You know how they say beauty is in the eye of the beholder? It’s not - we all know what looks good. Primal instincts honed over millions of years have hardwired us with the ability to tell what looks hot and what’s not for our own survival. It’s science and symmetry and a bit of social conditioning. It’s Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.
So does the Mazda2 Sedan look good? Yes – just, but you can see that for yourself. There’s the C-Pillars which flow down into the boot lid and the wraparound taillights, the sleek windows, the muscular haunches and the long nose and deep broad grille. It comes down to aesthetically pleasing lines and no awkward-looking shapes. It almost isn’t good looking because of the boot verging on stubby and all ‘up-in-the-air’ but it scrapes by thanks to that flowing roofline.
And it’s much better looking than its competitors. It's even arguably prettier than the hatch, which looks like a pea. A cute pea.
Compared to the pea, the sedan is 260mm longer at 4320mm nose-to-boot, but the wheelbase is the same for both at 2570mm.
There’s a high-quality feel to the interior of the Mazda2 and the Maxx grade adds even more special touches to the cabin. The rivals just can’t match the Mazda for this level of refinement and style.
Here’s the difference a boot makes: the sedan has a 440 litre (VDA) cargo capacity - 150 litres more than the hatch. And some trivia to amaze your friends – the sedan’s boot is 32 litres bigger than the Mazda3 sedan.
It doesn’t seem as ginormous when compared to its rivals, though. The Mazda2 sedan’s boot is 35 litres smaller than the Yaris’s cargo capacity, 25 litres less than the Hyundai Accent’s and 10 litres less than the Mirage’s.
Wheelbase length determines cabin space, and the sedan and hatch have the same wheelbase and that’s why my legs are equally cramped in the back of both when I sit behind my driving position. But I’m 191cm tall and wanting limo-like legroom in most cars is asking a lot.
Headroom is restricted because of the sexy roof line, but that’s the price you pay for looking good.
There’s two cup holders between the front seats, but none in the back and only the front doors have bottle holders.
There’s two map lights over the dash, but none in the back – the car is small enough, however, for them to light most of the cabin.
Price and features
The sedan costs the same as the hatch and Mazda wants $19,690 for the Maxx grade with the six-speed automatic transmission. That’s $3000 more than the base-spec auto Neo. You can save $2000 off both of them by changing gears yourself and going for the six speed manual.
The Maxx Sedan gets all the Neo’s features such as power windows all round, air-conditioning, rear parking sensors, Bluetooth connectivity and cruise control and adds a 7-inch touch screen, reversing camera, media unit controller dial, leather steering wheel, six speaker sound system, black cloth seats dial and it’s apps enable for Pandora, Stitcher and Aha.
Engine and transmission
This is important – both the Neo and Maxx have 1.5-litre four cylinder engines, but they aren’t the same. The Maxx’s is more powerful, making 81kW and 141Nm, plus it’s more fuel efficient – see the next section for that part. It’s not much more grunt, but that extra oomph is good for overtaking and when you’re loaded up with people and gear.
The six-speed automatic transmission is a great thing, in Sport mode it’ll shift down like a pro and just at the right time. In regular mode it’s smooth and hard to fault.
The 1.5-litre engine with the six speed automatic transmission in the Maxx drinks at a combined average rate of 4.9L/100km, so says Mazda. My driving style made the Maxx thirstier and it needed 8.7L/100km, but that is mainly city driving where you burn more than a combined figure which includes highways, too.
Mazda sees its point of difference between itself and rivals as being fun to drive. And although the Mazda2 is the entry car to the entire brand you can feel hints of the fun DNA in areas such as the excellent, low driving position, the placement of the pedals, the support in the seats and the forward visibility.
The ride is impressively comfortable with soft suspension in the front and a torsion beam in the back – if there’s a downside it can be a bit bouncy over speed bumps. The handling isn’t that hot but still competent through the bends.
The Mazda2 sedan has a five-star ANCAP rating. The optional Smart City Brake Support brings AEB.
There’s two top tether points and two ISOFIX mounts on the outside rear seats.
The Mazda2 sedan has a three year unlimited kilometre warranty. Servicing is capped at $867 over three years at 12 month/10,000km intervals.