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By Chris. Gable/

Mazda has dropped the prices of its Mazda2 Neo, Maxx and Genki, and added a six-airbag/ABS brakes safety pack to their options lists.
The 1.5-litre, five-door Mazda2 -- Drive's Best Small Car of 2003 -- now starts at $17,490 with air-conditioning. That's $1000 cheaper than last year's model. The mid-grade Mazda2 Maxx is now priced from $19,570, also $1000 down on last year's model.

The optional safety pack costs $1200 on both variants.

The safety pack adds front side and curtain airbags to the Mazda2's standard dual stage front airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners with dual stage load limiters, anti-whiplash front seats, an intrusion-minimising brake pedal and five lap/sash seatbelts.

Apart from its standard air conditioning, the Mazda2 Neo gets standard power windows and mirrors, central locking, a CD player, 14-inch wheels and tyres, power steering, an engine immobiliser and no-cost metallic paint.

The Maxx adds a six-stack in-dash CD player, 15-inch alloy wheels, remote central locking, wheel-mounted stereo controls that are illuminated at night, sporty trim and a rear roof-mounted spoiler.

Six airbags and ABS brakes are standard on the range-topping Genki, which is now priced from $21,615, which Mazda says also is a saving of $1000.

The Genki boasts a body kit that includes a front spoiler, side and rear skirts and a rear spoiler, driving lights and ABS brakes with EBD and Brake Assist and six airbags. Mazda says the Genki is the only car in its segment offering this level of occupant protection as standard.

Warranty across the Mazda2 range is three years/unlimited kilometres.

The price changes for Mazda2 coincide with the launch of specification enhancements inside and out. All models now get tail lamps similar to those fitted to the Mazda3, Mazda6 and RX-8.

Inside, all Mazda2 models now come with new seat trim materials. The Neo now gets a darker blue trim with a mesh weave finish; a matching dark blue trim panel has been added to the top of each door on all models.

Maxx models now get the dark metal-mesh and embossed knit trim from the Genki, while the Genki adds brushed alloy-look finishes on the door armrests and internal door handles. The speedo and tachometer now get brushed alloy-look meter rings.

New colors have also been added, with Winning Blue mica and Platinum Silver metallic joining an 11 color line up that also includes Spicy Orange metallic and Honey Yellow.

In offering the safety pack on the Mazda2, Mazda becomes the only non-luxury car-maker offering six airbags and ABS brakes across its Australian passenger car range. From this month these features are standard on the Mazda6 sedan, hatch and wagon range ?- which Mazda claims as a first for the medium car segment in Australia.

Drive gave the nod to the Mazda2 as Best Small Car of 2003, saying it was "... the surprise packet of the year". The car also was described as: "... a stand-out in this fiercely competitive class because of its size, value and the way it drives. It has zippy performance yet delivers good fuel economy."

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