By Alex Easthope
Inspired by the MX5 racer that contested the Britcar 24 hour race just weeks ago, the Mazda2 Black Edition looks to bring a darker side to the lively Japanese hatch.
The recipe is simple. The middle of the range 1.3 Tamura model is given the Sport Spec interior (climate control, Bluetooth etc.), as well a host of cosmetic changes that include a Vinyl Black roof coupled with 16 inch matt-black wheels to make the little Mazda look a lot more moody.
Interestingly this sits the ‘special edition’ hatch just under the top of the range Sport model, and with prices starting at just £12,395 for the True Red Version (£12,815 for white or green metallic), the whole package is a snip.
So has the darkness given it any depth? Aesthetically the car looks aggressive and sporty, perhaps a little over the top, but then it is a special edition.
Crystal White Pearlescent paint on this particular car contrasts brilliantly with the generous splashes of black trim, and the bigger diamond cut wheels accentuate the flowing, quintessentially Japanese lines of the car’s body.
Its taller stature makes the car on my drive look like a white rabbit primed and ready to chase down some hounds. Privacy glass and front fog lights complete the ‘Black’ look, and the car no doubt attracts attention when you’re in town.
It’s a cool car this, but one I can’t help feeling is aimed at a solely male audience. On the contrary there is no three-door model, so mothers on the school run would certainly find the 5 doors helpful.
The interior is adorned with a piano black dashboard, custom floor mats, and an individually numbered plaque (they are only making 618 Mazda2 Black Editions).
This doesn’t scream cool, but it is a nice touch that certainly reinforces the exclusivity of the car. Although the inside isn’t quite as funky as the retro Fiat 500’s, or the ultra-modern Ford Fiesta’s, it is functional and not bland by any stretch of the imagination.
So what is the Mazda2 Black Edition like to drive? Quite good as it turns out… The driving position is low and encompasses a high mounted gearstick with a big in-your-face steering wheel to give you the cocooned ‘racer’ feel.
Front visibility is great, only the privacy glass in the rear and side windows slightly hamper your view, which can make quick lane-switching a bit harder than it should be.
It’s no slouch either. 13.6 seconds to 60mph feels far quicker than it sounds thanks to the 84ps of Mazda’s Euro 5 compliant 1.3 petrol engine.
Power is linear and the buttery smooth revving engine pulls far more capably than you think it would. The car turns well too with feel reacting to input as your brain says it should, unlike the electric assisted systems (like in in the Fiat 500) that achieve the opposite.
Turn in is sharp and light and is enhanced by high levels of stability that provoke confidence throughout the corners. The added ‘zoom zoom’ surprisingly comes at no cost to the efficiency, with the sporty hatch returning a class competitive 55.4mpg on the combined cycle.
Motorway cruising is effortless and the refined interior sets a comfort precedent that just wasn’t there in cars of this type just a decade ago.
I think this is an attractive offering from Mazda. Basing a ‘special edition’ get-up on a car that already delivers on pretty much all bases makes sense, and the Black Edition is no gimmick.
For those wanting to stand out without having to splash out there’s little in the way to match its eccentricity and verve.
Another plus is that the quality and reliability of the Japanese firm ticks all the boxes in your sensible head too. So the best of both worlds you ask? Well the hatchback market is hot right now.
Vauxhall’s Corsa, Citreon’s DS3, Renault’s Clio, Ford’s Fiesta and Fiat’s 500 all pose various threats to the Mazda and all hold their own respectively.
If you’re after a cheap, fun, reliable car that’s great for weekdays as well as weekends though, you can’t go wrong with the Mazda2 Black Edition.