We think of hatchbacks as roomy and practical, but if you really want those qualities a sedan is a better choice.
Take the sedan version of the popular Mazda2, for instance. While the five-door hatchback Mazda2 is one of Australia’s favourite light cars, its recently-born sedan sibling is icing on the cake.
The sedan offers a huge boot of 440 litres’ capacity, while the hatchback has just 250 litres. That’s an important difference when it comes to packing strollers, holiday luggage or a pushbike (the seatbacks fold to extend the boot floor).
Mazda has the aesthetics covered too. The extra 190 litres of boot capacity comes from an extension of the bodywork behind the rear wheels, but unlike some rivals or even its own predecessor, the sedan’s bum doesn’t look big in its new clothes.
It looks like an extended hatchback and a stylish one, at that.
The buy-it clincher for many motorists should be that the sedan in every other respect is identical to the hatchback. It even costs the same — you get the extra boot space for no extra money.
We’ve tested the higher-specification Maxx version, which has a list price of $19,690 with optional six-speed automatic transmission.
Personal preferences aside, it’s difficult to imagine drivers who mostly use their cars for solo trips around the urban area — isn’t that most of us? — could want much more than the Mazda2 Maxx.
I’ve always believed small cars with big-car features are the ideal solution and here’s one with navigation, cruise control, reversing camera, idle-stop engine control, automatic headlights and wipers and optional ($400) automatic city braking. Plus adequate acceleration from a 1.5 litre, 81 kiloWatt engine and a petrol consumption rating of just 4.9 litres per 100 kms.
Moreover, it’s a surprisingly enjoyable drive. I was impressed most by its smoothness and silence when motoring along at 60kmh, 80 or 100. Small cars have come a long way and this one is from Mazda, whose current range of products is at the top of the game.
The six-speed auto was fast and smooth and I liked the steering feel. The steering wheel is adjustable for reach as well as rake, something you don’t get in every small car but very desirable to achieve a correct driving position.
Mazda quality is good but the little sedan’s grey interior, however, looks dark for such a cheerful car. Yet a thin, red inlaid strip across the shiny piano-black panel is too red for me.
Many of us are choosing smaller cars as we discover they deliver almost everything of a bigger model except the higher purchase and running costs.
The Mazda2 sedan won’t set the road on fire, but makes perfect sense.