Mazda hatches bold plan

Mazda hatches bold plan

IN a world where connectivity is king and social media, like a hatchback, can lay bare through the ‘rear window’ even the most personal information, there are people who prefer to hang on to their privacy.

In automotive terms, they are the sedan folk who like to lock away possessions out of sight in a car boot, so Mazda has introduced a sedan version of its popular Mazda2.

While the hatch and sedan share prices – starting at $14,990 for the Neo manual – the sedan misses out on the high-end Genki variant that tops the hatch range.

The $19,690 Maxx sits in the middle of the range and the hatch version of that was our test car.

There’s no disguising the Mazda-ness of the ‘2’, with the front taking on the brand DNA.

The cabin takes on high ideals with cues taken from small aircraft.

The instrument panel spreads like the wings of a plane; the round airconditioning louvres resemble jet engines; the radiating lines of the door trim convey the image of air flowing from a jet engine.

Next-generation HMI (Human Machine Interface) with Commander control knob on the centre console, allows easy access to navigation, communications and multimedia, including social media via MZD Connect.

Several functions can be controlled by voice activation, including switching menus, audio play, stop and skip functions, station selection, as well as zooming in and out of the navigation system maps.

With a mobile music player or smartphone connected to the onboard head unit via USB, voice commands can also be used to search for songs by artist name, or to call phone numbers stored in the phone’s contact list.

Of two engines available to the Mazda2, the Maxx takes the uprated 1.5-litre Skyactiv-G four-cylinder producing 81kW and 141Nm, and is coupled with a six-speed automatic transmission. The latter allows drivers to press a switch on the shift gate to switch to the Sport drive mode.

Available across the range is the Smart City Brake Support option, which, when driving at low speeds (4km/h-30km/h) around town, automatically applies the brakes to prevent colliding with the vehicle ahead, or reduce the amount of damage in the event an accident cannot be avoided.

There’s good space in the Mazda2 Maxx cabin, with ample head and shoulder room for the average-size occupants in front, while the rear leg room is adequate.

Rear seatbacks fold to increase cargo carrying capacity from 250litres.

And with one side of the 60:40 division dropped, it will take a golf bag or similar long load.

Instruments are clear and easy to read, as is the 7.0-inch screen perched on top of the central dashboard, conveniently at driver’s eye level.

Mazda claims 4.9litres/100km fuel consumption on average.

The car handled confidently without suspension trauma, and parking, with the aid of the reversing camera and its guidelines, was a doddle.

Sport mode had the engine holding the revs before gear changes, making lots of noise but not much action in performance.

Stick to saving fuel in Normal mode is my advice.

Verdict: Led by the likes of the Mazda2, little cars have come a long way with quality finish and fittings and the latest in engine technology, multimedia and connectivity.