The same careful tuning that’s evident in the pedal weights and shift quality shows itself in the way the car rides, handles and steers.

It’s apparent that better judgement and greater attention has gone into Mazda’s development effort on this car than goes into the average small car.

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Road test editor
The Mazda 2 handles in a wonderfully transparent, uncontrived way simply by being easy to guide and going precisely where you point it

The frequency of the car’s gait is fairly low and its ride generally easy-going and well isolated. But Mazda’s achievement is in how perfectly matched that ride feels to the middling but constant weight and pace of its steering, its moderate but very well-balanced lateral grip levels and its gently controlled rate of body roll.

It’s rare to find a small car of such dynamic consistency, one that doesn’t jar your impression of it with at least one incongruent characteristic – a disproportionately pacy steering rack, for example. Developing cars that are so coherent to drive is expensive and not always considered important by supermini makers. But the 2 shows why it should be.

Like its bigger sibling, the Mazda 3, the 2 handles in a wonderfully transparent, uncontrived way simply by being easy to guide and going precisely where you point it. But unlike the 3, it has a forgiving softness and pliancy to its springs and dampers.

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Around town, the car handles speed bumps and drains effectively. And yet at typical British B-road speeds, the suspension hits the sweetest of strides, allowing the body to stay flat and undeterred while the struts, bushings and links below work away very harmoniously indeed.

The difference between the 2 and our favourite supermini to drive, the Ford Fiesta, is mainly described by the breadth and robustness of that dynamic sweet spot.

The Fiesta is a cut above no matter how hard you drive it, somehow feeling balanced and spry at urban speeds and declining to run out of poise and composure even under real duress. The 2, by contrast, begins to run out of damping fluency and chassis control when you really grab it by the scruff. 

Better that, of course, than spoil its otherwise expertly executed everyday deportment for the sake of slightly more precise limit handling that very few will ever appreciate.

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