I rented a VW Golf and couldn't take the handbrake off because it didn't have a lever.
Just drive off, it's automatic.
If it's anything like the handbrake on new model Mazdas, no it's not. There's a small thingie behind the gearshift which isn't really a gearshift. Push it down to release the brake, pull it up to engage. It's not a leaver, it's some kind of electronic control. It has a nice little LED which comes on when it's engaged, otherwise you can't really tell. I really want to see what happens when the LED fails.