Motoring: Mazda2 touching down (again) on Canadian soil
Credit: COURTESY OF MAZDA
Mazda is testing the waters again with the re-release of its Mazda2. Will the car do better this time around?
The second-generation model showed up in 2002, and while it was still called Demio in Japan, most of the world called it the Mazda2. Mazda also never sold this model in Canada.
The third generation Mazda2 was launched in 2007, and while the naming structure didn’t change around the world from the previous model, this new model did make its way into Canada. Except it went on sale in 2010, halfway through the model’s life cycle.
Mazda, however, did quite a bit of work to improve the Mazda2 by the time it went on sale in Canada. The car was lighter, which helped with its performance, because it had to make do with just a 1.5 litre, four-cylinder, gasoline engine that produced 100 hp. Equipped with either a four-speed automatic or a five-speed manual gearbox, the 2011 Mazda2 was decently peppy, gave great mileage and offered ride and handling characteristics that were leagues ahead of anything it competed against.
Did its qualities make it a star on the showroom floor? No, not at all. Why? Because with a base price of $14,450, it was too close in price to a base Mazda3, which is a bigger, more powerful car. A well-equipped Mazda2 would become even more closely matched against the Mazda3.
As one of my Mazda dealer friends tells me, the low starting price of the Mazda2 did bring customers in, but by the time they put any equipment on it, buyers glance over at the Mazda3 and bought that instead. This was not a bad thing from a dealer’s point of view, because as long as customers bought a Mazda, they were happy.
However, some doubted that this sales trend might just lead to the cancellation of the model, when time comes to renew it.
Thankfully, that is not going to happen, because Mazda unveiled its all-new 2016 Mazda2 at the 2015 Montreal Auto Show, which is open to the public from January 16 to 25.
From a naming point of view, it is still called the Demio in Japan, and while most markets got this new Mazda2 a few months ago as a 2015 model, Canada will get this as a 2016 vehicle.
The 2016 Mazda2 benefits from the KODO design language that is seen on other models from this brand, such as the current Mazda3, Mazda6 and the CX-5. With its sharp lines and bold features, this new Mazda2 will certainly get more attention out on the road.
The 2016 Mazda2 is slightly longer (4,060 mm) and taller (1,500 mm) than the outgoing model, but the overall width (1,695 mm) remains the same, which means it will be just as maneuverable around town as the old model.
Powering the 2016 Mazda2 is a 1.5-litre, four-cylinder, SKYACTIV- G, gasoline engine. While Mazda has not revealed the exact power output for this model in North America spec just yet, going by the powertrain in other new Mazdas, the new engine will likely be more powerful and more economical than before. Transferring power to the front wheels this time will be a choice of either a six-speed automatic or a sixspeed manual gearbox.
A stiffer chassis, along with quicker steering and improved suspension geometry does indicate that the new Mazda2 will handle even better than before.
Inside, the occupant space is more optimized for a roomier feel, plus the quality of the materials used is better than before. As for safety, you’ll get a driver and passenger airbag at the front, while curtain airbags run the full length of the interior to protect passengers seated in the rear also.
All in all, the 2016 Mazda2 sure seems to be better than the model it replaces. I wsill find out more when I get to test one later this year, so stay tuned for that.
Pricing will be revealed at a later date, but given the competitive marketplace, it will probably have a lower starting price than the outgoing model.