Feature article

My life with a Mazda2

Considering a different car but want to know more? We spoke with the owner of a Mazda2 to learn about her life with it.

There’s nothing wrong with a traditional car review, but we reckon that what you really want to know about owning a car, is what it’s like to live with it! That’s why we’re presenting our series of articles covering someone’s life experiences with a specific vehicle. This time around it’s Bridget’s turn to tell us about her life with a Mazda2.

What was your initial inspiration behind choosing a Mazda2?

It’s actually my first car. My parents originally owned it and I then bought it off them when they got a new car. My younger sister was driving it a lot and costing them a fair bit in petrol, so they were delighted for me to take it off their hands and save that expense! I wanted to buy it anyway so it worked out perfectly. It appealed to me, as it had for them, because it’s very fuel efficient and nice and compact – a perfect runaround car. My Mazda2 is a manual and I learnt to drive in a manual, so I wanted to keep those skills active. It’s a 2008 model, cost me $5,500 and I’ve owned it for a year.

What other cars did you consider before opting for this one and what swayed you to the Mazda2?

I was considering the Honda Fit and maybe a Toyota Auris or Vitz, but the Mazda2 has a really good safety rating – one of the reasons why my parents bought it, and a big inspiration for me to take it from them. It has airbags and all of the safety features you want that make you feel a bit safer on the road. 

The fuel efficiency was another big factor.

I know that other small cars can be hit and miss in terms of performance and durability, whereas the Mazda2 is nice and consistent. My family have had maintenance issues with Toyota Vitz models in the past and this Mazda2 has been far more reliable.

What are your favourite things about driving the Mazda2?

It’s nice to drive, compared with other cars I’ve driven. It also feels like it’s got enough power, without using a whole lot of fuel. It’s quite a smooth ride and I feel like I’ve got good control of it. Being small, it’s super easy to park! I can squeeze into tight parking spots that other, bigger, cars can’t. All of this makes it a great city runabout. It’s green and very bright so it’s always easy to find in the carpark! You can’t really miss it.

You’ve told us it’s fairly fuel-efficient, but can you explain that in a little more detail?

In all honesty, I don’t drive a huge amount so can’t give you any sort of KMs covered to fuel cost estimate, but the most I’ve ever spent filling the tank from empty is around $65. I always fill it to the top and wait until there’s one bar left on the fuel meter, then refill for around $60. The full tank lasts me approximately a month, depending on how much I drive during that time.

What would you typically use the Mazda2 for?

I mostly use it when we’re going grocery shopping or visiting family. My boyfriend has family over the shore, so we can’t really cycle over the bridge. When visiting my parents, I sometimes drive if I’m taking things with me or need to get there a bit quicker. It’s a step up from travelling on my bike!

Have you had any maintenance issues in the time you’ve owned the car?

No huge issues. The main thing at the moment is that the top coat of paint on the roof of the car is peeling off! I think it’s sun damage, but I’m not sure when to repair it and how much I should be expecting to pay to fix it. In terms of mechanical failures, nothing at all so far but I have only owned it for around a year.

What’s the longest journey you’ve done in the Mazda2?

I’ve taken it to Hamilton and up north. I’ve never driven as far as Wellington or anything like that. I have access to larger cars, so prefer those for any long distance journeys. My boyfriend has a Toyota Auris, which is nicer for long trips as it’s a bit more spacious. 

We also can’t share the driving on any long trips in the Mazda, as my boyfriend can’t drive a manual!

So you wouldn’t consider the Mazda2 very road-trip friendly?

I actually think it is quite road-trip friendly, for a small car. It feels quite nice when you’re sitting in the back and you’re not too cramped or squished. I’ve been in the back of peoples’ Vitz, and suchlike, and you’re so squashed that you feel like your knees end up behind your ears! My Mazda2 has got decent boot space too. I feel like I could travel a long way in it if I wanted or needed to.

How comfortable is the Mazda2 to drive?

I find it quite comfy and it feels smooth to drive. The only thing is that it’s the sports version, with low profile tyres, meaning you get a fair bit of road noise, which some people might not like. The extra noise from the tyres sometimes makes it feel like you’re going faster than you actually are. The seats are comfortable and the radio is decent. In terms of the power it has and the steering and braking, it feels good. Passengers seem to like it too and I haven’t had any complaints. If anyone complains, it’s probably more about my driving!

What other cars have you driven and how did they compare to the Mazda2?

My family has a big automatic car, an eight seater Honda STEPWGN, which is fantastic if you want to move people or things, but its responsiveness is like a marshmallow! It also sounds like it’s going to break whenever going fast. We also owned a Toyota Vitz that had a super sensitive clutch, but not in a nicely responsive way. It was a bit weird and very inconsistent – sometimes too sensitive, others not enough. I find the Mazda clutch pretty consistent in comparison, and the steering and braking is strong. 

The Mazda2 is nicer to drive, in my opinion.

What do your friends and family think of the Mazda2?

My parents love it because they used to own it! It’s a bit more hit and miss with my friends, purely because it’s a manual – they’re like, “oh cool, it’s manual” and I get a bit of street cred because I can drive one of those...the only problem is that most of them can’t. When I broke my foot, it was frustrating as some of my friends said they could drive me home, but then it turned out they couldn’t as they didn’t know how to drive a manual. Friends find it a good place to hang out when I’m driving. To be honest, they can’t really complain about anything else when I’m giving them a lift!

What sort of response do you receive from other drivers whilst driving the Mazda2?

Because it’s bright green, I think they like the excellent visibility of it! But then you always get the big SUVs that think they can push in front of you – which is probably just a typical big car/small car thing. I see a lot of other green Mazda2s on the road and always have a lovely little moment of feeling solidarity. I don’t like to use my horn and have only ever beeped it twice. Once, when I was nearly smashed into by another person driving recklessly. The other time was when a driver was being nasty to someone and I felt like the person getting abused needed a bit of support from another driver.

What other vehicles do you own and how do you use it/them in comparison to the Mazda2?

I have an e-bike which, in all honesty, I use more frequently than my car. I use that every day for my commute and if I’m travelling short distances, or don’t need to carry things. I use the car if I need to carry large items or have sustained an injury. I don’t own any other cars but my parents have the Honda STEPWGN and I always borrow that when I’m moving house or need to move anything large.

When it’s time for a new car, what are you likely to look for in the new vehicle?

If I look for another car, I’d want to get a hybrid or electric vehicle. I’m probably unlikely to buy another petrol car. I don’t use the car super often anyway, so I think the natural next step would be an EV.

Does this mean you’d never consider buying another Mazda2?

My parents have a Nissan Leaf and I really like that, so if there was an electric version of the Mazda 2, I’d probably get it.  

I’ve also travelled in cars that have really fancy cameras to help with parking and reversing – I love those features and you don’t get them in a Mazda2.

Having said that, if I was using the car as little as I do now but still wanted to own a car, I’d probably go for something similar again. And, if I did decide to get another small petrol car, there’s a very high chance it’d be another Mazda2!