_OK, _ truth be told, I wasn't all that keen to jump into the current Mazda2. It's not that I have anything against light passenger cars, or Mazdas in general.
It's just that I had spent the previous week in the fantastic new Mazda3, and plus we all know a brand-new 2 is on the way late this year which almost certainly will blow this version out of the water.
After hopping in, my excitement levels weren't raised; sure, my time in the 3 may have skewed my view but the Mazda2 is still starting to show its age.
The hard plastics are an immediate sign this is a typically affordable car. Despite Mazda simplifying the range by going from three variants to two and upping the spec level on the entry-level Neo Sport, a lot of things buyers will now want from an entry-level model are missing.
There's no trip computer with vehicle info, no phone connectivity, no sat nav, no cameras, no sensors.
But, rather than focus on what it hasn't got, let's have a look at what it does. It has a capable 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine which will happily rev high and get you going in a zippy manner. True, it'd be more enjoyable in manual guise or with an extra gear in the auto but changes are smooth and around town you won't notice anything annoying.
And space-wise, for a small car it's great. There is plenty of headroom and a height-adjustable driver's seat, legroom is good even for taller folk and visibility is excellent.
It even went above and beyond its job description by accommodating two swags, two camping chairs, backpacks and a camping trip's supply of "refreshments" when a mate's Pajero packed it in ahead of a camping trip.
By the time it'd handled gravel roads and highway speeds and overtaking, I was far more enamoured.
But . . . there was just the nagging feeling that new cars have moved beyond what the current Mazda2 offers. Yes, it's affordable at $17-odd grand but even cheaper cars in the light-car segment, like the Fiat 500, come with phone connectivity. In fact, it's probably the tech that is the 2's biggest drawback. Its infotainment system is rudimentary at best.
The only car info you get is the odometer.
All that aside, you can see why Mazda2 has sold in big numbers: it does the basics very well and offers hassle-free ownership. That used to be good enough but now buyers want more.
- MAZDA2 *
- Model * Neo Sport
- Price * $17,440
- Engine * 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol
- Outputs * 76kW/135Nm
- Transmission * Four-speed automatic