Having to improve on a good thing time and again is a challenge, to say the least, and it's something Mazda has had a lot of practice at. This came in handy when developing the all-new Mazda2. The objective was no less than to blow away people's expectations of subcompacts.
After all, this is the car that would contend for sales in the B segment, one of Europe's most competitive, while replacing an outgoing model that kicked off its lifecycle as 2008 World Car of the Year and was most recently named top of its class in the 2015 TÃœV Report.
The all-new Mazda2 offers more of everything: It's longer with a bigger wheelbase, a more spacious interior, and an array of i-ACTIVSENSE active safety systems to go with the generous level of equipment for a supermini. This includes the Active Driving Display, the segment's first headup display, as well as the MZD Connect smartphone connectivity system.
And it does so without gaining weight, either, thanks to Mazda's relentless pursuit of unneeded grams. In doing so, the carmaker actually improved collision safety with a stiffer body and chassis. More is less in other ways, too, like with fuel economy and emissions or cabin noise.
But none of this comes at the expense of performance. In a segment dominated by downsized engines, Mazda's rightsized powertrains are a breath of fresh air - and perfectly suited to the carmaker's patented driver-and-car-as-one handling. Drivers will notice a confidence-inspiring degree of poise and usability: This car has truly grown up.
It's all packed into an extraordinarily attractive KODO - Soul of Motion exterior that shelters an innovatively ergonomic and pleasingly refined cabin destined to make occupants forget they're actually riding in a subcompact.
All the experience building the first three award-winning new generation Mazdas has gone into the fourth. Already named Japan Car of the Year 2014-15, the all-new Mazda2 demonstrates that practice makes perfect when it comes to outdoing oneself.
Mazda cut significant weight off the outgoing model relative to its predecessor - no small feat for a subcompact. This time around, they've managed something no less impressive. Namely, maintaining the weight on the all-new Mazda2 while upsizing the car - 14cm longer and taller than the outgoing model - and also adding a class-leading array of safety, connectivity and infotainment features and systems. And making the bodyshell 22 per cent stiffer despite being 7 per cent lighter.
Mazda did it by substituting lighter, stronger materials: High-strength steels of 440MPa or more now make up 65 per cent of the body, up from 53 per cent, with the proportion of ultra-high strength steels (780MPa and up) increased from 10 to 30 per cent. Mazda also modified the vehicle's structures, using 1,180MPa steel for the A-pillars, for example, so they could be slimmed down to cut a few more grams (and improve visibility). Using stiffer materials for body panels like the floor pan also enabled these to take on added structural functions, in turn allowing the removal of certain frame members.
Of course, the all-new Mazda2 also gets the full range of SKYACTIV Technology, including specially developed smaller and lighter powertrains. Even i-ELOOP, another new feature for the Mazda2, is 5kg lighter than the already unique brake energy regeneration system used so far on other Mazdas.
The all-new Mazda2 is the fourth Mazda with a KODO - Soul of Motion design. Having already raised the bar for the award-winning designs of its other new-generation models, which share traits like a solid stance, muscular lines, a rear-leaning cabin and an overall look that says forward momentum, the convention-defying carmaker has inadvertently given momentum to people's rising expectations of what will come next from the house of Mazda.
Concentrating such vibrancy and emotion into Mazda's smallest model, to be offered as a five-door hatchback, did not make the task any simpler. But, always up to a challenge, Mazda's designers contemplated what the competition was doing. And then did something different. Instead of following the typical B-segment "one-motion" style, which moves the A-pillars forward to make the cabin look roomier and more practical, Mazda defied convention when re-engineering KODO for supermini dimensions. And although KODO's unique proportions might at first glance appear to come at the expense of practicality, they also managed to build in unparalleled real-world utility.
The front axle was moved 80mm forward and the A-pillars 80mm towards the rear. Together with the higher rear shoulders along with larger tires with a wider track and minimal wheel-arch clearance, the short overhangs give Mazda's new subcompact a well-planted footing - another KODO trademark. The load appears to fall on the rear axle, like a sprinter in the starting blocks, but the added room up front also opens up space for the bigger wheels, SKYACTIV powertrains and a more substantial crumple zone in case of a frontal impact.
The Mazda2 is a global model. Besides looking good, it needs to satisfy a diversity of needs, particularly in the cabin. So Mazda grew the all-new model by 140mm in length relative to the outgoing generation and added 80mm to the wheelbase - both now among the class leaders.
It's also slightly taller, although this is virtually imperceptible. Therefore, it can still comfortably seat four adults and even has a smaller turning radius (4.7m vs. 4.9m) than the outgoing Mazda2, improving the already nimble manoeuvrability one might expect from a fun-to-drive supermini - and absolutely mandatory for a vehicle with the Mazda badge.
Up front, what first strike the eye are the piercing low-slung headlamps and signature wing grille. Featuring a round lighting signature and a four-lamp LED design (a Mazda first - see lighting technology box), the headlamps only add to the dynamic nature of the all-new Mazda2's face.
That KODO is literally in motion, evolving with every rendition, is best seen on the grille of the all-new Mazda2. The distinctive chromed signature wing, a defining feature of Mazda's new-generation line-up, now presents an even more formidable, three-dimensional look. The bold chromed "wings", whose sculpted finish suggests quality and dignity, pass through the headlamps on a contour that continues down the side of the body. There it is joined by more of KODO's distinctive character lines, which in this case defy the design limitations that normally hold sway in the B segment.
Underlining the new Mazda2's stylish consistency, the uppermost of these lines ends at the horizontal rear combination lamps, which encroach well into the tailgate. Featuring an immediately recognisable U-shaped lighting signature, they nicely complement the headlamps and enhance the power expressed by the rising shoulder line and steeply inclined rear window.
Fresh and lively, the all-new Mazda2's look will stand out from the B-segment competition. And entice an assortment of drivers to open the door and get behind the wheel.
One might think there would have to be trade-offs with a subcompact between roominess and stylistic freedom. But as on the outside, the all-new Mazda2's interior style elements work in symbiosis with comfort, craftsmanship and ergonomics.
It starts when first getting into the car, something people notice when it's difficult. Mazda therefore optimised the height and shape of the door openings to ease boarding and exiting the all-new Mazda2 in spite of its lower A-pillars and compact-looking roofline. Designers even took the path of a person's foot into account when determining the best shape for the doors, greatly simplifying getting in and out in tight parking spots where the doors can't open fully.
Once inside, the all-new Mazda2 is unconventionally roomy. Instead of using upright seating to maximise space utilisation, Mazda created room elsewhere, optimising the shape of the instrument panel, and using leaner seatbacks and headrests. The carmaker was thus able to add 12mm of front shoulder room, 6mm between front occupants and their doors, 20mm between the driver and front passenger, and 12mm of width to the centre console. That, of course, adds up to more comfort, more versatility and better side impact protection.
As a world model, the all-new Mazda2 needs to fulfil a variety of needs and accommodate people of different sizes. With this in mind, Mazda designed the cockpit to comfortably handle those measuring between 1.50m and 1.90m. At 260mm, the driver's seat offers the most frontback slide adjustment scope in in its class, while 45mm of telescopic range was also added to the existing 50mm of steering wheel tilt.
A shorter cabin usually compromises the pedal layout, but here KODO came to the rescue: By moving the front wheels forward, Mazda was able to position the pedals just as optimally as on the larger Mazda3. So, together with the seat and steering wheel adjustment possibilities, even tall drivers can extend their legs normally and operate the vehicle in a degree of comfort usually reserved for larger and pricier vehicle segments.
The boldly flared fenders allowed interior designers to maintain the horizontal positioning of the back seats - even though the sides of the all-new Mazda2 converge towards the rear. With the wider centre console and front occupants further apart, communicating with those in the back is that much easier. And thanks to slimmer front seatbacks with concaves, rear passengers also have 19mm of additional knee clearance.
As for the seats, Mazda took inspiration from its other new-generation models. Specifically, the company strove to provide the snug Jinba Ittai fit for the desired driver-and-car-as-one experience and cornering hold Mazda aims to deliver in all its vehicles. But at the same time without detracting from overall ride comfort. As a result, the seats feature higher seatbacks and 30 per cent more contact area with the occupant's body. They also utilise a new type of urethane to minimise unwanted input and vibrations, and adjust hold to the lower back and upper body according to lateral forces, providing added support during hard cornering. And like other aspects of the cabin, they're built to satisfy a variety of different physiques.
Designers were also aiming to heighten the joy of ownership with an exceptional level of craftsmanship and an inspired interior design. The climate-control louvers are a good example of these efforts, with three round and one cleverly understated horizontal vent positioned in symmetry across the dash.
Their stylish arrangement not only heightens the quality look of the interior, but also accentuates the roomy, open feeling - an effect emphasised by the uncluttered dash space above the line connecting the louvers, as no centre stack divides the front of the cabin.
If advanced comfort makes for a more enjoyable drive and a finely crafted interior stimulates anticipation for the next journey, then a coherent layout providing a clear overview builds confidence about the experience behind the wheel. Superminis need to be easy to drive, as they are often the first choice for first-time drivers. And the all-new Mazda2 gives the driver outstanding visibility in all directions.
Positioning the A-pillars further towards the rear widens the overall viewing angle. Streamlining the side mirrors and relocating them from the A-pillars to the doors, meanwhile, add to the new model's segment-leading visibility by eliminating a blind spot. This, of course, makes it easier to see obstacles and pedestrians - including smaller children - on the side of the road and at intersections.
A CLEAR OUTLOOK
A subcompact, of course, should manoeuvre well in tight spaces like parking lots and garages, even in reverse. The all-new Mazda2 excels here, since the driver can see objects out the back, even those low to the ground, and accurately judge distances as a result.
It's all part of the unique heads-up cockpit concept Mazda's new subcompact inherits from the remarkably ergonomic new-generation Mazda3: The cabin is split into two zones - one focused on driving and the other on connectivity and infotainment - and features an evolved version of Mazda's innovative human-machine interface (HMI), which includes a head-up display, 7-inch touchscreen, rotary commander and more.
Connectivity, Functionality and Equipment
Remarkably ergonomic for any class, Mazda's new-generation interior brings outstanding user-friendliness to the B segment. The idea is to give drivers the full benefit of all the car has to offer in the way of advanced infotainment and connectivity functionality, but still keep their eyes on the road and operate the vehicle in absolute safety.
The engineers therefore split the cabin into two zones. The cockpit zone puts the driver at the focal point, with all driving-related controls positioned for quick and easy strain-free access: No wasted energy and minimal eye movement. The passenger zone, meanwhile, is designed for comfort and a secure feeling of roominess. And relaxed operation of the all-new Mazda2's infotainment systems, which now include in-car online connectivity care of MZD Connect.
The basis for the enhanced usability of the Mazda cabin is the company's continually evolving human-machine interface (HMI).
Its elements include the Active Driving Display, the first head-up display in the segment. The device projects key real-time driving data into the driver's forward field of view. Minimal focal adjustment is required, and the display even adapts automatically to ambient light. Drivers can see the vehicle's speed, directions from the navigation system, or the status of the car's i-ACTIVSENSE active safety technology without even a short glance away from the road. To avoid information overload, the Active Driving Display shows only three items at once, changing according to priority. For example, an active safety warning will supplant speed and navigation data until the associated hazard has passed.
Other driving information can be found in the sporty instrument cluster initially launched on the new-generation Mazda3. It features a single large analogue tachometer with integrated digital speedometer in the centre flanked by smaller wing-shaped gauges displaying the trip odometer, fuel gauge and temperature, among other things. Infotainment features, meanwhile, are concentrated on the 7-inch display located on the dash above the centre console. These functions can be controlled either by touch-screen, voice command or via the rotary commander on the centre console.
The commander has been streamlined for the all-new Mazda2 to better suit the narrower console and for more intuitive blind operation than ever. It now requires less movement to navigate, and has three buttons at the front ("navigation", "home" and "audio") and two just behind it ("back" and "favourite"). Also new is a soft rubber palm rest for more comfortable operation.
Voice command offers another safe means to interface with the new model's systems while driving, whether accessing the internet via MZD Connect, searching for music or contacts on the connected smartphone, or zooming in and out of the navigation system's route map.
Great effort clearly went into making the all-new Mazda2 remarkably straightforward - and of course fun - to operate. It simply feels natural to the driver, from the positioning of the gear shift lever and Drive Selection switch to the accelerator pedal, now more precise with a hinged organ-style setup that is easier on the driver's ankle. And Mazda's labours have paid off, particularly in combination with improvements to the car's ride comfort, stability and powertrain response.
MAZDA2 NAVIGATION SYSTEM
Always find your way and end up where you want to be with the all-new Mazda2Â´s navigation system. Its functionality makes for a relaxed and enjoyable journey:
Directions shown on both the Active Driving Display and the 7-inch centre stack display for maximum safety and convenience
Search the internet for popular spots, points of interest, weather forecasts, restaurants, filling stations, etc. and set target
Map data on SD card covers Europe with three years of free biannual updates for maps and directions
First introduced on the Mazda3, Mazda's in-car connectivity system is now destined for the B segment on the all-new Mazda2. MZD Connect allows people to safely and easily connect to the internet and social networking services when in transit - something many Mazda2 buyers will consider essential.
Hook up an iPhone or Android smartphone to MZD Connect via Bluetooth (or USB cable) and enjoy a surplus of mobile content via the cloud platform-based Aha service. It features tens of thousands of stations, from radio and podcasts to audio books, as well as personalised location-based services and Twitter and Facebook audio feeds, including "like" and "shout" functionality.
MZD Connect uses NAVTEQ map data from an SD card to show locations and routes. Users can set destinations from a contact list or search online. The navigation software can also utilise the smartphone's tethering capabilities to locate things like the nearest filling station and determine the current price of fuel.
Operated either via the new rotary commander on the centre console or voice command, MZD Connect builds upon Mazda's SMS and readout functions. At the same time, it supports iPod, MP3 and CD playback as well as terrestrial AM/FM radio reception, including high-quality digital audio broadcasts (DAB). MZD Connect also comes with Mazda's own vehicle apps like Eco-display, maintenance reminders and warnings, allowing drivers to track things like fuel consumption.
SKYACTIV Technology has been the target of praise on all new-generation Mazdas to date. But even though they're lightweight and exceptionally efficient, adapting SKYACTIV powertrains for the B segment was still a challenge. The supermini class is, after all, a market of its own with certain distinctions and limitations.
Mazda's engineers therefore focused on making the most of SKYACTIV's strengths, optimising its essentials for the sporty yet forgiving nature of the all-new Mazda2 while omitting anything unnecessary. But still delivering Jinba Ittai oneness with the car, a predictable, natural linear response to driver input, and the sense of control key to the exciting Zoom-Zoom nature of all Mazdas.
Obviously, the engines and transmissions would have to be smaller yet still deliver the superior blend of performance and fuel economy synonymous with SKYACTIV powertrains. An appropriately sized diesel engine was also a must, particularly in Europe. Hence the SKYACTIV-D 1.5, a new small-displacement clean diesel to be offered later this year together with a six-speed SKYACTIV-MT manual gearbox.
The SKYACTIV-D 1.5 shares the low compression, quiet low-knock operation, and superior ignition and cold-start capabilities of its larger sibling, the SKYACTIV-D 2.2. However, since a smaller engine suffers from greater cylinder wall cooling losses, Mazda went with a new combustion chamber and fuel injection system, and slightly higher compression of 14.8:1 - still remarkably low for a diesel.
Rather than the SKYACTIV-D 2.2's sequential twin-turbo setup, the engineers gave the SKYACTIV-D 1.5 a lighter, smaller single turbocharger with variable turbine geometry, which delivers ample boost for day-to-day speeds and features a special sensor to maintain output at higher speeds. i-stop, Mazda's idle-stop system delivering the world's fastest diesel restarts, is standard equipment on the all-new Mazda2.
These and other measures to save space while optimising performance makes the SKYACTIV-D 1.5 a true lightweight. Output is 77kW/105PS at 4,000rpm with ample maximum torque of 220Nm at 1,400-3,200rpm. Coupled on the all-new Mazda2 with a special compact version of the six-speed SKYACTIV-MT manual, it's good for a 0-100km/h time of 10.1 seconds and a 178km/h top speed. Fuel economy, meanwhile, is a mere 3.4l/100km, which corresponds to CO2 emissions of only 89g/km. And like all SKYACTIV-D engines, it saves customers additional money since costly NOx aftertreatment is not required to meet the stringent Euro 6 emissions standard.
POWER IN ESSENCE
Mazda's latest supermini is also available with a choice of rightsized SKYACTIV-G petrol engines. Admired on existing new-generation Mazdas for their unique responsiveness and fuel efficiency, these naturally aspirated direct-injection powerplants feature high compression and low mechanical resistance. And like the smaller SKYACTIV-D, they too have been optimised for B-segment needs.
This is because linear accelerator response is particularly important in a subcompact. Consider a typical day-to-day situation like decelerating into a roundabout, maintaining a more or less constant pace through it, and smoothly accelerating out again. Even an inexperienced driver needs to be able to predict the pedal behaviour, so Mazda designed the throttle to give consistent feedback to the driver while ironing out jerky behaviour and unwanted bursts of speed. That builds confidence and makes driving more enjoyable.
The Mazda2 is available with the SKYACTIV-G 1.5 in three different output variants, all of which meet Euro 6. Like the version launched on the Mazda3, two feature a 14:1 compression ratio and 4-2-1 exhaust manifold, putting out either 85kW/115PS or 66kW/90PS at 6,000rpm. Torque-wise, both produce 148Nm at 4,000rpm. The third option is the standard version of the SKYACTIV-G 1.5 with (among other things) 12:1 compression and a lighter and more compact 4-1 exhaust system. It produces 55kW/75PS at 6,000rpm and 135Nm at 3,800rpm.
The 115PS SKYACTIV-G 1.5, which transfers power to the front wheels via a six-speed SKYACTIV-MT manual, can sprint to 100km/h in 8.7 seconds and a top speed of 200km/h. But, featuring an enhanced version of Mazda's innovative i-ELOOP brake energy regeneration system, it still manages fuel consumption and CO2 emissions of only 4.9l/100km and 115g/km.
The 90PS model can be ordered either with a special small, lightweight version of the six-speed SKYACTIV-Drive automatic or a new five-speed SKYACTIV-MT transmission. Performance figures here are 12.0 seconds and 177km/h for the automatic and 9.4 seconds and 183km/h with the manual. These versions use 4.8l/100 km and 112g/km (automatic) and 4.5l/100km and 105g/km (manual). Finally, the 75PS Mazda2, which also comes with the new five-speed gearbox, can accelerate to 100km/h in 12.1 seconds and a top speed of 171km/h, consuming 4.7l/100km of petrol while emitting 110g/km of CO2.
SKYACTIV-D 1.5 - SMALL DISPLACEMENT CLEAN DIESEL POWER
Mazda's new SKYACTIV-D 1.5 features low compression, superior ignition, superb torque and outstanding fuel economy - the same virtues of its award-winning SKYACTIV-D 2.2 sibling. Only now, the carmaker has adapted this innovative powerplant for the smaller displacement, removing anything unnecessary to minimise cooling losses, mechanical resistance and weight.
Core technology: what's new
14.8:1 compression (rather than 14.0:1) to ensure similar combustion characteristics to the SKYACTIV-D 2.2 despite its compact size
Smooth linear acceleration from a standstill without peaking until the top of the rpm range
Bucking the trend towards petrol engine downsizing and turbocharging, Mazda continues to win over customers with its naturally aspirated high-compression SKYACTIV-G powerplants. The direct-injection SKYACTIV-G 1.5 is now available in three lightweight versions optimised for the smaller packaging of the all-new Mazda2.
Unusually high 14:1 compression ratio, the world's highest in a mass-production passenger car
Exceptionally free-revving thanks to smoother valves and piston rings
A standard version of the SKYACTIV-G 1.5 featuring a lower 12:1 compression ratio and simpler 4-1 exhaust manifold.
Weighs less than other SKYACTIV-G 1.5s, with a smaller exhaust, hydraulic rather than electric single sequential valve timing (on the intake valve only) and a lighter engine cover and oil pump
Combining the crisp, quick shifting of Mazda's legendary MX-5 in a lightweight fuel-saving design, the all-new Mazda2 is available with two newly-developed SKYACTIV-MT manual transmissions.
These five- and six-speed gearboxes are just as much fun as those on existing new-generation Mazdas, only now even lighter, more compact and with less resistance thanks to thinner casing material and an improved shift-linkage mechanism. Combining competition-beating torque capacity with lower drag, they also weigh 5-7 per cent less than the outgoing Mazda2's five-speed and require 45 per cent less transmission oil. The upshot: superior fuel economy.
A new small version of the six-speed SKYACTIV-Drive automatic is also available for the all-new Mazda2 together with the 90PS SKYACTIV-G 1.5. Built especially for smaller displacement petrol engines, it delivers the same direct, quick shifting manual-like feel, smooth acceleration and outstanding fuel economy of larger SKYACTIV-Drive versions.
NOW EVEN LIGHTER
Mazda omitted the one-way clutch on this automatic, used a smaller planetary pinion, torque converter and valve body, and optimised the transmission case shape. As a result, it is 17kg lighter than the version from the Mazda3 and Mazda6 with a wider lockup range (93 per cent as opposed to 89 per cent) for even smoother standing starts. It also features "sport" mode, which delivers more torque and an enhanced acceleration response at the flick of the Drive Selection switch located just behind the gearshift.
i-ELOOP - NOW BETTER THAN EVER
Mazda is committed to minimising the environmental impact of its vehicles, and its i-ELOOP brake energy regeneration system is indeed one of a kind. Short for "Intelligent Energy Loop", i-ELOOP is the first such system in a passenger car that stores recovered electricity in a capacitor.
Specifically, Mazda adopted an electric double-layer capacitor (EDLC) rather than a dedicated battery. The large capacity EDLC captures and stores energy very quickly during the deceleration phase, which typically lasts only 10 seconds or so. In contrast, the lead acid starter batteries normally used in vehicles are far more limited in their charging and storage capabilities. Another benefit of EDLCs is their durability: They can be recharged over and over with minimal deterioration, unlike the lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles, for example.
i-ELOOP uses a 12V-25V variable voltage alternator to generate power from the moment the accelerator is released, fully charging the EDLC in as little as 7 seconds - well within a deceleration cycle. Then the DC/DC converter steps down the voltage of the electricity in the EDLC to 12V to power electrical engine components as well as the headlamps, climate control and audio systems. Surplus electricity goes to the starter battery.
A full capacitor charge can normally run the vehicle's electrical systems for long enough that there is no need to revert to battery power even when Mazda's i-stop system has shut the car off at a traffic light.
In fact, during stop-and-go city driving, charging often resumes before the capacitor is fully discharged, so i-ELOOP can satisfy most if not all of a vehicle's electricity needs. This frees up the engine output normally required to drive the alternator. Together with i-stop, i-ELOOP hikes real-world fuel economy by up to 10 per cent under everyday urban driving conditions.
The system on the all-new Mazda2 is now more efficient than ever, too. By improving the EDLC's charging performance, Mazda was able to use a smaller starter battery. It thus freed up space to accommodate the DC/DC converter, which was previously located in the cabin. This, in turn, means shorter wiring, saving 5kg together with the smaller battery. And less weight, of course, means even lower fuel consumption.
Chassis & Body
A new level of refinement: Now featuring the SKYACTIV-Chassis and SKYACTIV-Body, the all-new Mazda2 gets the light, crisp handling, lightweight strength and advanced passive safety protection praised on other new-generation Mazdas. In fact, it eclipses the B-segment standard for smooth responsiveness.
The bottom line is significantly advanced comfort and a confidence-inspiring stability that in many cases surpasses what Europe's best superminis have to offer. And at the same time, the company enhanced the already exceptionally fun-to-drive nature of the outgoing Mazda2, magnifying the Jinba Ittai oneness with the car inspired by the iconic Mazda MX-5. Especially around town, where a contender in this segment needs to make driving effortless. But also on country roads and high-speed motorways, because otherwise it wouldn't be a Mazda.
Aiming to deliver a faithful steering response with a fine balance between lightness and stability, simply downscaling the platform for the Mazda2's smaller wheels and shorter wheelbase wasn't enough. So Mazda updated the suspension with the SKYACTIV-Chassis concept, increasing the caster angle of the front wheels, for example, to enhance feedback and the already outstanding steering response. The front MacPherson struts were retuned for better comfort, while the mounting positions for the rear torsion beam setup were raised to suppress impact shock and improve wheel grip - both best-in-class. And that breeds superior high-speed stability. The new supermini is also the first Mazda with a friction control function on the front and rear shocks, which makes for a smoother ride and better initial steering response.
Speaking of steering, the SKYACTIV-Chassis improves upon a very good thing, as the all-new Mazda2 responds even more faithfully and predictably to driver input. Here again it was about balancing the car's agile fun-to-drive nature with a reassuring experience - two aspects that normally work against each other. The engineers therefore tightened the steering gear ratio from 15:1 to 14.7:1, requiring less steering wheel movement to provoke the same response, and changed the steering gear mounts to boost linearity.
The new model also retains the outgoing Mazda2's front ventilated disk brakes and rear drums, but now performance-enhanced for precise, linear control. The pedal stroke, for example, was tweaked for easy operation and a faster response. The retuned brake booster allows better speed control in tight places like car parks as well as for frequent moderate braking in the city. Developers were aiming for a progressive pedal feeling: smooth at first and increasingly firm when braking harder. But with no initial delay, since the system is stiffer than before and requires less fluid.
Like its chassis, the all-new Mazda2 inherited the same outstanding SKYACTIV-Body architecture used on other Mazda models, only with a simpler frame layout and optimised shapes to enhance its lightweight strength. Body stiffness has thus been boosted by 22 per cent over the current model, yet the bodyshell is still 7 per cent lighter despite being larger. Mazda put its gram strategy into action, looking exhaustively for ways to reduce weight with advanced body structures and materials. But of course without compromising strength, comfort or passive safety. In a new approach, the company's engineers enhanced the cross-sectional shape of certain frame members for greater strength while removing others, instead adding sturdier panels to assume their structural function. The entire floor pan, for example, is now a structural member.
As in other new-generation models, Mazda also significantly increased the proportion of high-strength steels on the Mazda2 from 53 per cent to 65 per cent. Lighter yet stronger than conventional steel, this approach allowed the company's engineers to eliminate parts and cut even more weight. Ultra-high tensile steels, meaning those rated at 780MPa or more, now make up 30 per cent of the body's total. And 1,180MPa grade steel was used for the first time on a Mazda bodyshell: in the A-pillars, roof rails, and certain cross-members and side sill reinforcements. The doors, too, are lighter with fewer parts, but still deliver improved side impact protection.
NVH - REFINED AROUND EDGES
A lighter car is more efficient, with better performance from the same engine output as well as improved fuel economy and lower emissions. But it's also more susceptible to vibration and noise. Especially in a supermini, which by nature has the occupants in close proximity to the engine. Mazda countered such drawbacks on the all-new Mazda2 with a range of anti-NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) measures such as:
Blocking noise paths into the cabin and channelling the noise into special sound-absorbing materials
The all-new Mazda2 was meant to be comfortable, fun to drive and confidence inspiring. Mazda's Proactive Safety Philosophy supports all three with a comprehensive blend of active and passive safety protection, something rather unique for this segment.
The idea behind Mazda Proactive Safety is to help drivers ascertain conditions, recognise dangers and react accordingly. All the virtues packed into the new supermini, like its predictable responsiveness and heads-up cabin with superior visibility and ergonomics, make it safer in the first place. But together with its class-beating i-ACTIVSENSE range of active safety technology and the innovative passive protection built into the SKYACTIV-Body (and SKYACTIV-Chassis), is aiming for best marks from Euro NCAP.
The all-new Mazda2 is the first Mazda in Europe with Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM), the company's newest innovation in active safety technology. BSM expands the functionality of the Rear Vehicle Monitoring system (RVM) seen on other new-generation Mazdas. Working at speeds as low as 30km/h, the new system not only detects vehicles approaching from behind in adjacent lanes from as far as 45m behind, but those up to 7m away on either side as well. Should the driver activate the turn signal on the side of an advancing car, BSM triggers a buzzer sound and flashing indicator in the corresponding side mirror. Utilising 24GHz microwave radar, the system also includes Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA), a feature that takes advantage of BSM's sensors and warning signals to monitor the blind spots when the car is reversing.
The all-new Mazda2 is likely to see a lot of urban traffic, which is one reason why Mazda has equipped it with Smart City Brake Support (SCBS). This system uses a near-infrared sensor to keep an "eye" on preceding vehicles at a range of around 6m and speeds of 4-30km/h. If it perceives an increased accident risk, SCBS pre-fills the brakes to prepare for an emergency stop, applying them automatically when necessary or cancelling the pre-fill should the danger subside. It should therefore prevent an impact at speeds of 20km/h or less, depending on road conditions.
EYES WIDE OPEN
The Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS) is another new-generation technology making its B-segment debut on the Mazda2. Working at 65km/h and up, LDWS monitors the lane markings using a camera, activating a rumble strip sound from the corresponding side speaker along with a visual warning in the instrument panel should it detect an unintentional lane change. To prevent false alarms, the system is designed to recognise when lane changes are deliberate, if for example the driver activates the turn signal or accelerates. LDWS even adapts to a driver's individual habits.
High Beam Control (HBC) monitors the headlights and taillights of oncoming and preceding vehicles with a camera, automatically switching between high and low beams at night to avoid impairing the vision of other motorists. First introduced on the Mazda CX-5, the system has been updated for the all-new Mazda2 to include a light sensor. This ensures more frequent high-beam usage and also makes HBC less likely to unnecessarily switch to the low beams. These are more effective than ever, too, in combination with the full LED headlights. A first for Mazda, they feature a four-lamp design both projector-type and parabolic LED lamps in each headlight. Hill Launch Assist (HLA), meanwhile, brakes the vehicle during hill starts to prevent unwanted rolling. Other standard equipment includes the latest generation of automated vehicle safety systems, including ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) and brake assist (EBA) as well as stability control (DSC) and traction control (TCS).
Nevertheless, should an accident occur, the lightweight yet remarkably strong SKYACTIV-Body effectively absorbs and disperses impact force from any direction to suppress cabin deformation. Optimised to deliver the same outstanding protection as the Mazda3, Mazda6 and Mazda CX-5, the all-new Mazda2's SKYACTIV-Body compensates for its size with stronger structures and materials. So in spite of being 7 per cent lighter than the outgoing model, it delivers 22 per cent better torsional (or twisting) stiffness thanks for example to a significantly higher proportion of ultra-high strength steel in strategic locations like the cabin side frame, A-pillars, roof rails and side sills.
During a frontal impact, a multi-load path structure absorbs the forces and distributes them over different paths around and away from the cabin. Front frame members are supported by the side sills and B-frames to form a continuous architecture, which protects the cabin. An impact-absorbing extension on the front suspension cross-member initially absorbs energy before separating to form an effective crumple zone in the engine compartment.
And to simplify repairs and minimise costs, easily replaceable bolt-on parts like the bumper and suspension cross-member crush cans deform during a low-speed impact to protect other parts around the engine compartment.