Not known for their proficiency in the 'supermini' market, Mazda enlisted the help of Ford for this foray into almost unknown territory. 2003's original Mazda 2 looked like a chunkier, slightly more aggressive Fiesta, was built on Ford's Fusion chassis and had the same high roofline. Models were all five-door and badged S, TS and TS2 in Mazda's traditional pattern, the latter two for some reason being re-designated Antares and Capella in 2004. 2006 brought some small changes, mainly to improve emissions figures and trim quality.
In 2007 a brand new Mazda 2 for sale arrived, still reminiscent of and based upon a Fiesta but much curvier and more athletic looking than the original model. This generation was also lighter and a little smaller than its predecessor and in 2008 Mazda introduced a three-door variant. 1.3 and 1.5 litre petrol engines were soon joined by 1.4 and 1.6 litre diesel units and trim levels went back to the more recognisable TS, TS2 and Sport.
Bang for your buck
The approved used Mazda 2 has always been impressively spacious inside, with room for three adults in the rear and plenty of luggage, although rear-door access is a little stingy in G2 models. Rear seats fold flat along with the front passenger seat; great for packing in large items.
Early S trim models were pretty spartan, featuring wind-up windows, but conditions improve for the TS or Antares, to include air conditioning, while the Sport boasts electrics to the windows and heated mirrors, plus a six-speaker CD stereo (as opposed to a radio cassette for the S) with steering wheel controls. Extra safety features were available as options but standard kit includes an impact absorbing bodyshell, designed to deflect energy around the outside of the passenger shell upon collision, along with an automatically decoupling brake pedal that recoils from the driver's legs upon impact to prevent injury.
Next generation used Mazda 2 models are far more generously equipped, with even entry-level models offering ABS (with Brake Assist and EBD), front airbags, remote control central locking with deadlocking facility, electric front windows and wing mirrors, height adjustable driver's seat, CD stereo with auxiliary input, a posh glove box featuring a magazine rack, plus an alarm and immobiliser Thatcham Category 1.
The range topping used Mazda 2 'Sport' trim for sale seems to be so-named for a racy body kit of 16 inch alloys, cruise, traction and dynamic stability controls, fog lights, automatic wipers and lights, electric windows to the rear, speeding alarm, trip computer, climate control air conditioning and additional stereo speakers.
Interior appearance is neat rather than exciting, with average materials improved by superior build quality. The exterior is more impressive, with the original's sexy but rather boxy form giving way to a more hawkish appearance in the new generation, with sloping, modern light clusters and supple lines.
What you'll pay
The approved used Mazda 2 for sale is a nice little bargain. Early, basic models can be had for under £3,000, going up to £4,000 for the range topper. You'll need to double that for the first second generation models, with a premium for the Sport styling kit. Insurance is reasonable, starting at a welcome group 2 and going up to group 6.
What to check
With Japanese engineering allied to Ford's experience, you'll find the engine and mechanicals pretty solid. Kerbing, parking bumps and trim damage are standard due to the second hand Mazda 2's common school run and urban environment use.
Again thanks to Ford's input, parts are fairly cheap and plentiful. A clutch assembly kit will set you back about £80 and an alternator about the same. A set of front brake pads should be around £30 and £20 for the rear, a new exhaust £120, starter motor £110. A replacement windscreen is in the region of £70, headlight £80 and manual wing mirror £50.
How it drives
With the build quality and handling of the Fiesta it was based upon, you would be forgiven for thinking the Mazda 2 is as dynamic on the road as it looks off. While it corners beautifully and has a firm ride, that 'Sport' badge is somewhat misleading, with even the largest of the engines available adequate rather than exciting. The electronically assisted power steering is helpful for parking in tight spaces but unrewarding at speed and cabin noise is noticeable at speed too. That said, the drive is good if you're not too worried about speed. Fuel economy is also good and as long as you're buying for urban and local use rather than boy racing, a used Mazda 2 is a very practical and rewarding option.