Mazda2 1.5 SkyActiv-D, from circa £15,000
Engine: 1.5-litre four-cylinder diesel producing 104bhp and 162lb/ft
Transmission: Six-speed manual driving the front wheels
Performance: Top speed 111mph, 0-62mph in 10.1 seconds
Fuel economy: 83mpg
Emissions: 89g/km

MAZDA has really gone for it with its latest range of cars, penning shapes so dramatic shapes that you could probably write a South American soap opera based on them. The 2, or, more correctly, the “Mazda2”, is the latest in the new-age family. And what a real looker it is.

New safety technology including a first-in-class head-up display, all-new 1.5-litre engines and a bundle of features stolen straight from the Mazda3 are all highlights.

Looks and image Some will say it’s a shame Mazda has toned the stunning Hazumi concept down as much as it has, and the 2 is definitely a bit under-wheeled even on the larger 16-inch alloys. But still, from the front, back and any three-quarter angle you choose, this is the freshest and best-looking supermini out there.

Space and practicality The cabin-rearwards design and long bonnet aren’t designed for maximum interior space or to make sure the blue rinse brigade can fit their new perms inside. It’s a sporty look inspired by predatory animals, so practicality takes a marginal back seat.

A 280-litre boot is adequate, and it’s nice and deep for stacking. The side effect is a high boot lip – bad for backs when heavy luggage is involved. There’s a fantastic driving position with loads of adjustment, and behind the front seats there’s almost certainly enough room for teenage kids.

Behind the wheel The 2 isn’t just a pretty face: its style is backed up by unexpected substance. The sweet manual gearbox is almost telepathic, and the diesel engine is a revelation, too. It’s still a bit coarse next to the petrol, but it’s willing and eager, pulling like a baby locomotive from about 2,000rpm.

The small wheels pay dividends with a supple ride, and once you’ve hit the first few manhole covers and not suffered any spinal injuries, all is forgiven. Big wheels are as much a curse as a blessing.

Stability is a strong point, with little body roll and enough grip to inspire confidence. Combined with the high-quality materials and controls taken from the Mazda3, the 2 feels like a bigger, classier and more expensive car.

A head-up display is a first in this class of car. With speed and navigation directions projected onto the glass, you rarely need to take your eyes away from where they belong.

Also worth a note is the MZD connectivity system, which is brilliant. It basically uses an interface idea pioneered by the likes of BMW and Audi, with a rotary control dial and a few additional shortcut buttons. It’s as simple as Karl Pilkington and quick to use.

Value for money Pricing details are scant at the moment but the cheapest 2 is still likely to be around £12,000, with the range-topping diesel around £18,000. For all its talents it looks like an expensive choice, given the massive discounts available on key rivals like the Ford Fiesta.

That said, Mazda2 buyers will have good reason to believe they bought a higher-quality and better-driving car than most.

Who would buy one?

Someone who wants their supermini to make a super first impression would love the Mazda2, but beauty isn’t only skin deep in this case. Its everyday usability and comfort are top-notch. Bored of the supermini norm? Here’s your alternative.

This car summed up in a single word: Organised If this car was a…: call centre operator it would be organised, entertaining and satisfying to deal with.