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by Ryan Broadfoot
Everywhere you look nowadays things seem to be getting smaller. Credit card sized cameras that can hold 10 million photos and iPods the size of Zippos that could even hold all the Britney Spears albums. And don't think that smaller means less because these little gadgets contain more toys than Harrods. Fashion says we need these mini status symbols to accompany our single shot espressos, handbag pooches and California sushi rolls. And it doesn't stop there, car manufacturers have also jumped on the mini-wagon too. The roads today are awash with super-minis. Hardly a minute goes by without seeing one zip by you; advertising their proud owner's Real Estate Agency.
In the past the super mini-world has been dominated by the Toyota Yaris and Suzuki Swift. But Mazda has given its baby 2 a makeover to try and see if it can compete with the, err..., Small Boys!!! Transforming the old Mazda 2 into a super mini was never going to be an easy task. Firstly, almost all Mazda 2 owners were getting their cheques from Centerlink and secondly, it wasn't exactly bulging at the seams with technology. Mazda now thinks it may have cracked it with the new 2, but how will it stack up against the reigning champs.
The new 2 has moved away from its shoe-box Japanese styling and has gone for a much more European hatchback look. This definitely plays well for the Mazda and it scores better than both the Yaris and the Swift. The Suzuki Swift is still very sporty looking and would make a great addition to anyone's garage. The Yaris is typical conservative Toyota styling and is starting to look a little dated.

Mazda 2 9/10
Suzuki Swift 7/10
Toyota Yaris 6/10

The main appeal behind the super-mini has always been the vast amount of optional extras that seem to find their way over onto the standard features list. The Mazda 2 has included such standard items as MP3 CD Player, 4 speakers, central locking, fully adjustable steering wheel, air conditioning, digital clock, cup holders, illuminated entry system, height adjustable driver's seat, electric windows and electric mirrors.

The Swift trumps the 2 here with the addition of an outside temperature gauge, more speakers and a more functional on-board computer. The Yaris does without some of these features such as vanity mirrors and rake adjustable steering wheel. Also we found the low-fuel warning system a bit inconspicuous and the lack of a driver side wussy handle to be a bit annoying.

Features Comfort
Mazda 2 8/10 8/10
Suzuki Swift 9/10 8/10
Toyota Yaris 7/10 6/10

One of the problems faced by the older super-minis was the lack of safety features provided as standard equipment but for the modern super-mini it's par for the course.

The Mazda impresses again with Driver and Passenger front airbags, ABS, brake force distribution, brake assist and collapsible steering column. Traction Control and Stability Control haven't made it onto the standard features list but both are optional on all three cars. All the cars fared well through the Euro NCAP crash rating with the Mazda 2 and the Toyota Yaris scoring 5 stars and the Suzuki Swift scoring 4.

Mazda 2 8/10
Suzuki Swift 7/10
Toyota Yaris 8/10

Ride and Handling
The Mazda 2 has definitely inherited some chromosomes from its athletic family members and even when riding on the steel rims with wafer thin tires it corners like a house fly. The ride is more firm with increased feedback through the suspension however this won't fair well with the current clientele's dentures. Strapping young professionals on the other hand will call it sporty and absolutely love it. The Swift corners well too and also has a great feel on the road. The Yaris has the best ride comfort of the three but suffers somewhat when it comes to handling. Its tiny wheels understeer horrifically and the body roll reminds you of your last trip to Dreamworld.

Ride Handling
Mazda 2 8/10 9/10
Suzuki Swift 8/10 8/10
Toyota Yaris 9/10 6/10

Super-minis appear to be scaled down versions of their hot-hatch brethren and as a result, performance needs to be sufficient enough to separate the super–minis from the, erm..., normal-minis. The Mazda 2 has a 1.5l 4 cylinder engine producing 76kW @ 6000rpm and 137Nm @4000rpm and gets the 2 from 0-100km/h in 11.8 seconds. The Swift's 1.4l VVT 4 cylinder engine produces slightly less power at 74kW @ 6000rpm and 133Nm @ 4000rpm yet propels the Swift to 100km/h in only 10.0 seconds. The Yaris has the smallest engine of the three with a 1.3l 4 cylinder producing 63kW @ 6000rpm and 121Nm @ 4400rpm. It only manages to break the 100km/h mark in 12.1 seconds. The top speed for the Mazda and the Swift are around 170km/h with the Yaris topping out at around 165km/h.

Mazda 2 8/10
Suzuki Swift 9/10
Toyota Yaris 6/10

Value for Money
The best part about the super-mini is that they are extremely affordable. Corporates and small companies gobble them up and a lucky few manage to get them as their first car. All 3 of our test cars have been the entrylevel models for this comparative test and all 3 are very closely priced. The Suzuki Swift carries the heaviest price tag at $15,990. The 3-Door Mazda 2 is next with a price tag of $15,750. Finally the 3-Door Toyota Yaris YR is the cheapest of the lot at only $15,190. Prices are for the entry level with a manual gearbox although the Suzuki Swift is the only 5 door car. If you were only in the market for a 5-door car however, then the Swift would end up being the cheapest.

Mazda 2 8/10
Suzuki Swift 8/10
Toyota Yaris 9/10

All three of these cars are fun to drive and in today's times, good value for money too. We think it's great that we can now buy safe, well equipped cars that offer standard features that were previously reserved for the larger saloon cars. Out of our test cars we'd have to say that although the Yaris is currently the biggest seller, 1 out of every 4 Toyotas sold is a Yaris, it is the most outdated and offers the least trim for more or less the same price. It does carry with it Toyotas reliability reputation and good resale value though. The Suzuki Swift is one of Suzuki's first successes in the automobile arena and offers great performance, outstanding features and an all-round impressive package. It probably wouldn't hold its resale value as much as the Toyota but is still great value for money. Finally, the Mazda 2. It won Car of the Year so we were expecting it to be good, but we were not prepared as to how well it would fair against the current super-minis. It excelled in every category and managed to score the most points in total. It seems that since Ford took over Mazda they can do no wrong. With a string of successes such as the Mazda 6, Mazda 3, RX-8 and the 2 new Crossover models the CX-7 and CX-9, it's no surprise really that the 2 is such a hit. That is why we are proud to call it the new King of the super-minis.

Mazda 2 66/80
Suzuki Swift 64/70
Toyota Yaris 57/70

Posted in lifestyle |
Posted by Ryan Broadfoot
19 Dec 2008

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