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It all makes sense; IAN DONALDSON urges buyers to consider the automatic Mazda2 if they are looking for an economical, easily driven hatchback.

Byline: IAN DONALDSON

SOME cars drop beneath the radar in a market crowded with newcomers shouting: "Buy me, buy me!" Take the little Mazda2. It is, however, a car worth considering by any young family wanting a runaround that won't consume too much cash and still be good to drive.

It is also about as undemanding a companion as you'll find, thanks to an automatic gearbox that turns the Mazda into a steer-accelerate-brake machine - perfect for busy town work.

It forms one of only a handful of separate models in the Mazda2 range, which shows a very different approach to sales to that adopted by the likes of Ford, who dominate the market in this size of hatch, with dozens of different Fiestas on sale.

Building a car that's great to drive helps and the Mazda shares some Ford DNA, acquired when the two companies forged a now broken alliance.

We first saw this Mazda2 in 2007 so, in car industry terms, it's well into middle age. That is countered, Mazda hope, by introducing a new version.

The Venture Edition costs from PS13,295 and comes with extra equipment (TomTom sat nav, 16in alloy wheels, parking sensors, climate control, auto lights and wipers and black mirror housings) and uses a 1.3-litre petrol engine.

That's not the car tested today. The trialled model has a larger, 1.5-litre engine and automatic gears, so can't compete with the Venture Edition on economy.

I did, however, manage a creditable 43mpg on a shortish test run, while driving in what I hoped was a typical owner's style. And that meant no racing from the lights or crazy overtaking - difficult to manage anyway in a car built more for relaxed transport than playing the Silverstone refugee.

The automatic comes well equipped, with air con, alloy wheels, electric folding and heated door mirrors and even a splash of piano black plastic to lift the look of the dash.

That makes it look positively good value against the obvious opposition. It will cost PS2250 more to get into the cheapest comparable Fiesta automatic.

The Mazda has a grown-up maturity about it, especially inside, where you'll find lots of well-made black plastic and generally easy to read and use controls.

Sensible buyers will also note Mazda's fine reliability record and the prospect of effortless journeys, with no clutch to bother about, and conclude that this version ought to shout a little louder to be heard.

ANDREW Marshall, Arnold Clark Mazda franchise manager, said: "The Mazda2 is one of the most stylish models available. Couple this with the fact that it is built on the same underpinnings as the Ford Fiesta and you are guaranteed great value and fuel economy because of the exemplary mechanical engineering that you find in the car."

Factfile: Model: Mazda2 1.5 TS2 Automatic Engine: 1.5-litre petrol Power: 101bhp Top speed: 105mph 0-62mph: 11.9 seconds Average mpg: 44.8 CO2 emissions: 145g/km Warranty: Three years/60,000 miles Price: PS12,995

CAPTION(S):

VALUE J The Mazda2 is a perfect family runaround that won't hurt the wallet

DASHBOARD J A splash of piano black plastic lifts the look
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Mar 21, 2014
Words:528
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