Small in size, big in volume and personality.
That was the Mazda 2 in a nutshell when it was first introduced in North America five years ago.
The diminutive vehicle impressed drivers and reviewers alike with its sprightly acceleration and nimble handling, not to mention its surprising interior room.
Fast-forward to January 15, when the second generation of the five-door hatch made its North American debut at the Montreal International Auto Show.
The first thing you notice about the 2016 Mazda 2 is its face. The little 2 has fallen in line with its larger stable mates and adopted Mazda’s KODO – Soul of Motion design language, giving the subcompact an instant shot of class.
Projector-type LED headlamps are part of the new look, making for better road illumination as well as nighttime presence.
Mazda Canada literature states the company wants the 2 to “surpass all generally-accepted notions about what might be offered in this (vehicle) class.”
The interior follows this aim, with upgraded materials and trim, as well as improved gauges, a 7-inch centre display, and a head-up driver’s display adopted from the larger Mazda 3.
Navigation and infotainment systems received a similar upgrade.
The first generation 2 wasn’t blessed with the most technologically advanced drivetrain, but it made the best of what it got. Now it won’t have to, as the newer model comes outfitted with Mazda’s new 1.5-litre SKYACTIV-G direct-injection gasoline engine, tuned to maximize low-end torque and high-end fuel economy.
Mazda is keeping the exact output of its latest SKYACTIV engine a secret for now, but there’s no doubt that the new powerplant will top the previous 1.5-litre’s 100 horsepower by a significant margin.
The new 2 ditches the previous generation’s antiquated 5-speed manual and 4-speed automatic for modern 6-speed units. Both new transmissions–manual and automatic–were developed specifically for use with the new 1.5-litre engine.
Along with its new looks, the 2016 Mazda 2 has grown in length. Its wheelbase has been stretched an extra 80 millimetres, while overall length has increased by 110 millimetres. Width stays the same.
Base models now come equipped with 185/65 R15 tires (compared to the previous model’s 55-series 15-inch rubber), while uplevel models get 16-inch wheels.
The 2016 Mazda 2 also keeps the same tight turning radius (4.7 metres for the base model), key for retaining the nimble, sporty nature of its predecessor.
Suspension upgrades and a larger use of high-strength steel has given the 2 a 22% stiffer body structure, something that should help boost safety for occupants.
Pricing hasn’t been announced yet, nor has an on-sale date, but the model is expected to become available in late summer of this year.
Mazda Canada has announced that the launch of the 2016 Mazda 2 has been delayed from late summer 2015 to early 2016. The company cites focus on launches of the CX-3 and MX-5 as reason for dealying the launch of the Mazda 2.
Photographs by Steph Willems and Mazda.