Mazda2: The Big Picture | Part Two

Also note the extremely small shut line gaps, made possible through newly-developed assembly techniques. These not only contribute to the neatness of the exterior look but also help optimise the aerodynamic shape.

Inside, there is sufficient room for five adults, due in part to generous head and shoulder room – with rear shoulder room easily the Best in Class. The driver's seat is adjustable horizontally and in height (210 mm and 38 mm respectively) so that men and women of nearly every body size can find just the right driving position. Newly developed, anatomically-correct seat frames help provide fatigue-free seating.

A variety of storage compartments provide room for smaller items. For larger items, Mazda2 possesses a luggage compartment that is unusually large for this class, with a volume of 268 litres. With the back seats folded down, Mazda2 has an expanded load capacity of 1,044 litres with a completely flat floor. There is room for two mountain bikes, without having to take off the wheels.

The engine line-up boasts three modern, 16-valve, double overhead camshaft (DOHC) petrol engines – a 1.25-litre MZI (55 kW/75 hp), a 1.4-litre MZI (59 kW/80 hp) and a 1.6-litre MZI (74 kW/100 hp). There is also a second-generation common-rail 1.4-litre MZ-CD diesel engine (50 kW/68 hp).

As an alternative to the manual five-speed transmission – available for all four engines – the 1.4-litre petrol and the common-rail diesel engines are also available (from summer 2003) with an automatic shift manual (ASM) transmission, which combines the advantages of an automatic transmission with the flexibility and low fuel consumption of a manual transmission.

Mazda engineers concentrated much of their efforts on the bodyshell and chassis design. Intensive computer simulations and practical tests resulted in an extremely rigid body structure. For example, rear axle torsional stiffness has been improved by 45 per cent over the previous Mazda Demio model. The extremely stable body structure and the efforts put into developing the chassis, steering and suspension systems have resulted in outstanding driving dynamics.

Mazda2 features a strong passenger safety cell. An ingenious body structure design distributes impact energy equally through the car's cross-members and side beams to help prevent deformation of the passenger cell. If the Mazda2 is involved in a serious head-on collision, the brake pedal decouples and is pulled away from the driver’s legs, which reduces the overall risk of leg injuries.

Further safety features include dual-stage front airbags, along with side and head airbags that protect passengers in the front and back seats in case of side impact. Doors and interior trim are made of energy absorbing upholstery. ISOFIX brackets for child seats are standard in the back seat.

The best possible active safety is provided by an agile front-wheel drive chassis, well damped suspension, ABS with electronic brake distribution (EBD) and emergency brake assist (EBA).

Published 30 March 2003 Melanie Carter

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