By on September 20, 2010

I’ve been known to complain every now and then that cars in general have grown too heavy and, partly as a consequence, boring to drive. Hardly any engage the driver like the 2003 Mazda Protege5 in my driveway does. Even the burgeoning crop of B-segment cars, including the much-lauded Honda Fit, has disappointed in this regard. And so we come to the latest contender, the Mazda2, at 2,306 pounds the lightest 2011 car you can buy with a back seat.

The U.S. gets only a five-door hatch. For which we should be thankful; the Mazda2 sedan offered elsewhere is rather hard on the eyes. In hatchback form, a truncated tail balances the high, blunt front end. Like the “man maximum, machine minimum” Hondas of yore, the Mazda2 is nearly all passenger compartment. Though headlamp assemblies that extend nearly to the front axle along arched front fenders and the complex surfacing of the doors provide some visual interest, the exterior is much cleaner than the Mazda3’s. Select the vibrant green to render it visible to the general population.

As might be expected given the sub-$15,000 price, the Mazda2’s interior is about as spartan as they come. There’s a minimal center console, no center armrest, and a wide band of painted metal (green in the case of the tested car) visible around the rear window. Simple, somewhat clunky controls are logically arranged close at hand, such that buttons absent from the steering wheel are not missed (but are including on the uplevel Touring nevertheless). “Cheap” or “functional?” Take your pick.

As might be expected given the compact exterior dimensions, the Mazda2’s interior is about as tight as they come in a car with rear doors. Only the related Ford Fiesta offers a more cramped rear seat. At 5-9, I can sit behind myself with about an inch to spare. The rear seatback is very low, and adults must raise the headrest lest it dig uncomfortably into the upper back. Cargo volume, though easily sufficient for runs to the grocery store, doesn’t approach that in the far more spacious Honda Fit. Up front, taller drivers might wish that the center console were less intrusive or at least padded. But the seats aren’t bad, with decent levels of comfort and lateral support.

The good stuff begins with the driving position. The pillars are thin by current standards. Though the windshield is far from upright, Mazda has managed to get by without windowlettes ahead of the doors. The view over the low, compact instrument panel is more, even much more conventional than you’ll find elsewhere in the segment. There’s no sense that you’re driving an MPV.

Even better, with the 2’s handling Mazda has recaptured much of the flavor lost in the transition from Protege to 3. Around town the feel through the precise, light-yet-communicative steering is delightfully agile. Though it leans a bit in hard turns, and the 185/55VR15 tires provide a limited amount of grip, the Mazda2 is easily the best-handling car in the segment. It alone handles the way small cars used to, and ought to. The U.S.-market Ford Fiesta feels soft, imprecise, and dull in comparison.

The price for such handling must usually be paid in ride quality. But not this time; around town the Mazda2 rides much more smoothly and quietly than the Protege, and is about average for the current class. I say “around town” because at highway speeds the car gets blown about a bit and the ride becomes notably less absorbent. With the manual, the engine is turning 3,000 rpm at 70 mph in fifth, so there’s also some engine noise.

Then, the fumble. The 1.5-liter four-cylinder, with a peak output of only 100 horsepower, is weakest-in-class. Despite the car’s low curb weight, this engine feels even weaker than the specs suggest. Below 3,500 rpm there’s nothing. Above 3,500 there’s not much more. Compounding the problem, the spread between first and second gear is unusually wide. Shift at 5,000 rpm, and you end up dead in the water at 3,000. To avoid falling into this hole, it’s necessary to shift near the 6,300 rpm redline. The engine is smooth, but even around its peak it provides no joy. Like those of more powerful (yet still overburdened) powertrains in competitors, the EPA ratings fail to impress: a less-than-stellar 29/35. A sixth gear would also help here.

The $14,730 base price is at least low, undercutting a similarly-equipped Chevy Aveo by $560. Adjusting for feature differences (using TrueDelta.com’s car price comparison tool more than doubles the Mazda’s advantage—it has standard stability control, while the Aveo manual isn’t even available with ABS. Equip a Fiesta similarly then adjust for feature differences and the Mazda has about a $250 advantage. A Honda Fit is about a grand more.

We’re left pondering the great car that easily might have been. With little apparent faith in the car, Mazda appears to have spent the bare minimum to adapt the 2 for the U.S. market. The excellent chassis deserves a much better powertrain. With even the 119-horsepower 1.6 from the Fiesta the 2 would be much better. With a 1.8 (as offered by Nissan and Scion) it would be delightful. With the Mazda3’s 148-horsepower 2.0 it would scream. Even a stronger 1.5 paired with better gearing might suffice. As is, enthusiasts will pass on the Mazda2 because of the gutless powertrain while non-enthusiasts will prefer the more stylish Ford Fiesta or much more practical Honda Fit. Hopefully Mazda will interpret the resulting low sales to mean they need to fix the problem, and not discontinue the car.

Michael Karesh owns and operates TrueDelta, an online source of automotive pricing and reliability data.

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128 Comments on “Review: 2011 Mazda2...”


  • avatar
    mrhappypants

    Another disappointment looking for something cheap and cheerful.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    With the manual, the engine is turning 3,000 rpm at 70 mph in fifth, so there’s also some engine noise

    Oh, for the love of God, why?!

    Honda and Mazda must be staffed by people who secretly hate economy car buyers because every one of their cars revs like bonkers in top gear.  Wait, I feel I’m clairvoyant, because I just know that when I finally drive this car that first, second and third gear will be so uselessly short that I’ll be tooling around town in fourth and shifting three times before I hit 50km/h.

    I swear, it’s part of the conspiracy to kill the manual transmission.

    • 0 avatar

      In this case it’s because there’s truly no power below 3,500. Second gear actually needs to be shorter.

    • 0 avatar
      lawmonkey

      Someone once put forward a theory on this that makes sense to me – people would rather have a high-revving cruise than have to downshift at speed for minute speed corrections that come with the typically packed freeway experience.  If the engine is as weak as claimed, I can see that being particularly applicable here – the car might even have to lope along at 3000rpm to make it up any incline.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      people would rather have a high-revving cruise than have to downshift at speed for minute speed corrections that come with the typically packed freeway experience

      I can’t believe that.  Anyone of that mindset would probably get an automatic anyway.

      What’s really odd is that there’s a good reason to have short first or second gears, but why fifth?  Or, for that matter, third or fourth?  Unless you’re taking the car to the track, why not put third where fourth is, make fourth a little overdriven and fifth extremely tall?

    • 0 avatar

      3000 at 70 sounds about right to me. All 4-cyl cars I drove before were geared like that.

    • 0 avatar
      Roundel

      I think you may be right about the manual conspiracy.
      My 09 Jetta has that 5 cylinder that only I like. The only issue I have is that its churns nearly 3000 rpm at about 70 as well… and this is a car with 170 hp. The car screams for a sixth gear.

    • 0 avatar
      srogers

      My Focus does 3000rpm @ 70. And that’s with a 6-speed!

    • 0 avatar
      aspade

      It’s not a Honda and Mazda thing.  The Fiesta is no different.  Neither is the Aveo.  Or the Accent.

      Clown cars with 5K torque peaks need all the gearing help they can get.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Clown cars with 5K torque peaks need all the gearing help they can get.

      So why do the versions with automatics—even those with four-speeds—rev something like 1000rpm lower in top gear?  By your logic, the autos should be geared even taller as they’d need the power even more.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Automatics in small displacement cars can get away with tall gearing because they drop out of them the instant you exceed EPA highway test throttle openings. Torque converters can slip enough to create effectively lower gearing too, at least in the ones that are true automatics instead of dual clutch gearboxes like the Fiesta’s. Either way, don’t expect real world mileage for the higher rated automatics to exceed that of the manuals.

    • 0 avatar
      Mirko Reinhardt

      @Pete
      3000 at 70 sounds about right to me. All 4-cyl cars I drove before were geared like that.
      My 4-cylinder car in 6th gear does 3000 rpm at 120 mph.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      My Mazda3 5-speed spins 3000 rpm at 70 mph, and I don’t mind.  It’s smooth, quiet, and responsive on the highway or freeway.  A little taller sixth gear with a little shorter fifth would be ideal, but I’d fix other things about the car before I’d be concerned with that.
       
      My Mazda3 also has way too big of a gap between first and second gear.  I like first, but second should be about 15% shorter, with third about 5% shorter.  I wouldn’t change fourth or fifth, unless I could add a sixth gear.

    • 0 avatar
      cyberc9000

      This is why I can’t give up my V6. Even with a loud exhaust, I can’t hear the thing when I’m enjoying a quiet highway drive at 80MPH turning over at 2000RPM.

      And because the engine isn’t working itself to death, my fuel economy is only a couple MPG less than what these clown cars get at the same speeds.

    • 0 avatar
      blppt

      I look at it another way—-I have a 2010 Civic AT, which turns a ridiculously low 2300 @ 70mph in O/D & with the tc locked up, which means nearly any moderate grade means the lockup clutch has to disengage all the time and/or a shift to 4th is necessary simply to maintain speed on highways.

      My 2009 Focus had a similar problem, but it was somewhat mitigated in the sense that it had an O/D lockout switch and a tall 3rd gear (~3000rpm at 60mph) so for hilly highways, I would just lockout 4th. No such switch in the Civic.

      Stupid, stupid design. I can only imagine the wear on the poor AT components due to the constant shifting at highway speeds, which *used* to be one of the more relaxing activities for a car. You know, before like other commenters below noted, every manufacturer started worrying about meeting EPA quotas by dumping obscene O/D gears into cars that cannot handle them.

      I’ll take a shorter top gear any day of the week over the “way to tall” one.

    • 0 avatar
      chalmers

      This is my biggest problem with my Mazda3. In France (where I live) the speed limit is ~83 mph, so at highway speeds, my little engine is screaming along at ~4000 rpm. Mazda’s never been known for making the most economical engines, but this doesn’t help matters at all. Mine’s a 2005 and in 2006 they added a 6th gear.
      Although, I also realize that most “global” cars are probably specced for a highway speed of 65-75 mph (and I guess I could drive slower to get better mpg) and I assume they don’t want the engine to be below 2500 rpm at 55-60 mph.
      Ugh, I think that the top gear should be real tall. I would live with gears 1-4 being “around town” gears and 5 only for the highway.

    • 0 avatar

      ‘I swear, it’s part of the conspiracy to kill the manual transmission.’ I hope not.

      Every teen should be required to learn how to drive a manual. That way, they will know that the right foot is for acceleration, and braking, and the left for clutch only, and not the brake.  There are too many of them driving around in ‘brake-light mode’.

      To all parents: Please, teach your kids to keep their left foot away from the brake pedal. That’s not what it’s for! It’s a little bit scary, really dangerous, and pretty annoying to follow someone who has that micro-switch engaged mile after mile after mile……….it’s a bad habit.

       


    • 0 avatar
      SecretAznMan

      @blppt:  That’s what transmissions are supposed to do, shift gears.  If you don’t like that, I hear Tesla may have something for you.  ;)

    • 0 avatar
      blppt

      @SecretAznMan
      I completely disagree. A transmission should not have to constantly shift in and out of overdrive and/or lockup every time you come to a moderate grade. Especially since likely the only reason manufacturers do it is to bump their average EPA ratings by giving cars super-tall O/D gears.
      Which, IMHO, is completely irrelevant since the car spends a lot of time in much shorter geared 4th anyways, thereby neutralizing the small fuel economy bump vs using a reasonable O/D gear, AND causing extra wear to the tranny.
      Everything I’ve ever been taught about cars is that unnecessary shifts hurt fuel economy and shorten transmission life. I grew up with 3 and 4 speed automatics; its very difficult to get used to all the shifting these 5-6-7 speed new auto transmissions do. It simply *cant* be beneficial to the life of the transmission to force it to upshift at every moderate highway grade. Not to mention, its annoying and noisy.
      I’m not talking monster hills either; I’m referring to highways I had no problems maintaining or even slightly increasing speed without even having to get out of lockup in such musclecars like a 3.0 Vulcan Taurus or a screaming 2.2L AWD Legacy wagon.
      The R18 automatic civic simply does not have enough power at 1900-2200rpm (reasonable highway speeds of 60-70 here in the Northeast) to just -maintain- speed up grades.
      Oh well, could be 1700rpm @ 60 like the 6 speed auto malibu! =)

  • avatar
    gslippy

    I sat in one in the showroom.  My 6’7″ frame was OK in the front seat, but the back seat is a bad joke.  Guess I’ll keep my xB.
     
    Mfrs are really missing the mark in this segment.  They should be able to provide a roomy car that is also economical – it has been done in the recent past.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      My 6’7″ frame was OK in the front seat, but the back seat is a bad joke.  Guess I’ll keep my xB.

      It’s peculiar, isn’t it?  Even the old Echo hatch had enough rear-seat space for four six-footers (the Yaris changed the seat height position, but it’s still pretty good) and the Aveo and Fit both have great back seats.  I’ve heard the xD is pretty good, too.

      Why the Fiesta and 2 have such problems I am not sure.

    • 0 avatar
      srogers

      Funny that these manufacturers aren’t catering to 6’7″ passengers with their sub-compacts. You guys are right to bitch.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Here’s the thing: most small cars have a very tall roof and can accomodate tall passengers quite easily, whereas the dash design and low roof of larger cars poses a problem.
       
      I own a Fit (and not a Civic or Accord or whatever) specifically because it “fit” me better than the larger cars do.  I would have bought an xB (were they available in Canada) or a Cube (were they one sale).  I know a lot of tall people who own dorkboxes for this very reason.
       
      And yet Ford and Mazda’s offerings have deplorable interior space for a class of car that’s known for being very space efficient.  It’s not so much “catering” as it’s “WTF?!”

    • 0 avatar
      srogers

      Psar,
      The Fit is a marvel of space efficiency and should be celebrated everywhere by people who need it. Maybe all sub-compacts don’t need to chase the volumetric efficiency? Maybe they’re content to leave that market to Honda.
      Personally, I have a family of four, so I would love to have that Fit space with the fun of the Mazda2 AND its ESP. Nobody in my family is over 5’9, so we’d fit fine in the Mazda, but I’d like more cargo space.
      I might have already bought a Fit if they were offered with ESP in Canada. That’s one of my ‘must-haves’ to justify a new vehicle. And Honda has pissed me off by not offering this before the Gov’t makes them.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      Funny that these manufacturers aren’t catering to 6’7″ passengers with their sub-compacts. You guys are right to bitch.
       
      No, I don’t expect every econobox to fit me, but the 2 has virtually no back seat legroom, in spite of being around the middle of this list:
      Fiesta: 31.2 in.
      Beetle: 31.5 in.
      Yaris: 33.8 in.
      xD: 33.9 in.
      Accent: 34.3 in.
      Fit: 34.5 in.
      2: 34.8 in.
      Aveo: 35.4 in.
      cube, Golf: 35.5 in.
      3: 36.3 in.
      xB (05, 10): 38.0 in.
      Soul: 39.0 in.
       
      That’s nearly 8 inches span over cars of about the same target market, price, and economy.  Anyone with a height or width challenge really can’t consider the cars at the lower end, if they ever intend to carry similar passengers.  It was for this reason I ruled out an 02 Beetle years ago, in spite of its cavernous headroom up front.

    • 0 avatar

      Someone got creative with the tape measure. The preliminary specs pegged rear legroom at 33.0. Part of the change appears to have come out of front legroom, which is down half an inch.

    • 0 avatar
      thirty-three

      The real joke is the back seat of the current Honda Accord.  There’s no room for me to slide my big feet (size 11) under the front seat, meaning that I don’t fit in the back unless the person in front is as short as I am (5’4″).

      A freaking Accord!  The only other car I had a problem with is the Mini.  I can get my feet under the front seat, but once the driver sits down, my feet get squished.

    • 0 avatar
      Tosh

      For completeness of gslippy’s list, Versa has 38.0 inches (manf website).

      Is the possibility of carrying 4 over-6 footers a realistic scenario that every car must handle? I remember tooling around with 4 adults in my old Fiesta. Sure, it was tight sometimes. Some times! Like maybe 0.5 percent of the time? The rest of the time, it was fun. Fun, but buzzy.

    • 0 avatar
      tedward

      srogers
       
      I own a fit sport also, and let me say that not buying the ESP/Navi combo was the best purchasing decision we made with the car. It’s totally unnecessary as the car is still small enough that wheel corrections are easy to apply and the handling limit is transparent (to non enthusiasts even). I can easily toss is around on dirt roads, when driven hard on loose surfaces the thing wiggles it’s hips even, but it’s not the problem/outright hazard that it would be on a larger front drive car. The car doesn’t do lateral motion on pavement unless driven there intentionally, and I am not a conservative pilot. ESP is a safety must on 200hp+ front drivers in the classes above (esp. autos), but these little guys are done a disservice when equipped with such.

  • avatar
    Dr Strangelove

    The predictable “disappointment” over “decontented” cars for NA. Look, people, the dollar isn’t worth much anymore, and therefore the car manufacturers have a choice of either selling you the cheap stuff that the dollar can buy, or nothing at all. Really nothing new here, move along.

  • avatar

    Reliability will probably be quite good, partly because there’s little to break. A possible exception: rust. Mazda’s rust prevention tends to be subpar.
    I hope to have quick initial reliability stats for the Mazda2. To participate in the survey:
    http://www.truedelta.com/reliability.php

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    Although it’s not price to go head-on with Yaris,  the Mazda instrument panel has my vote over the tach-less, center mounted pod in the Yaris.   Only an automatic is available in the 5 door Yaris hatch.
     
    The Mazda smiley face is not as overdone on the 2 as it is on larger 3.   185/55 15″ tires are pretty narrow and small – these days. Three grand at 70 mph is pretty standard for a 1.5 mill on a small car.
     
    Also, what’s with the green Fiestas and now the Mazda 2?   Did some focus group vote on the color?

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Remember all the posts calling for a cheap, simple car that handles well even though it doesn’t have much power?
     
    Well, here’s that car; the Geo Metro or fifth-gen Civic or whatever reincarnated.  And we’re already complaining about it being cheap and gutless.  What a bunch of hypocrites we are.

    • 0 avatar

      Again, I don’t think that 120 horsepower is too much to ask for. And the gearing is even more of an issue than the lack of power. Better gearing would cost nothing.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      I actually LIKE it.  (And yes someone who loves Town Cars and B-Body GMs can reside in the same body as someone who loves “go carts.”  Which is how I see this car.)  I love a light little handler like this. And honestly I have no beef with the power deficit, save one thing.  Please, please, please, Madza – have Mazdaspeed develop some bolt ons for this car like a supercharger or something!  Then the true tightwads can have their effincent engine and I can make mine scream harder!

    • 0 avatar

      I’d have to drive one to be sure, but this seems like the same story as the R53 MINI Cooper, only $5k cheaper:  Light, go-kart handling, pitiful no-revving lump for an engine.
      Still,I loved that MINI for 65k autocross-filled miles.  There was a substance to the car (lots of high-$$ suspension pieces) that may be lacking here.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      @Michael: I’m not knocking your review, but some of the posts that follow.
       
      That said, and because I haven’t driven this car, how does the powerplant compare to the of the Yaris or the pre-09 Fit?  All three have about the same levels of power, but I’ve found the Yaris to be the most “tractable”, as well as blessed with gearing that isn’t criminal.
       
      I’d also be interested in your opinion of the plastics.  Even though I don’t mind hard plastics or the occasional cheap trim piece, the Yaris is pretty bad: the white plastic that stretches from the door handles is literally the cheapest piece of trim I’ve ever seen in any car.

    • 0 avatar

      The difference in power compared to the Yaris and earlier Fit isn’t large, but it’s there, especially in the midrange. The spread from first to second truly is a killer.
      The plastics are definitely a step down from the Mazda3, itself no VW, but I could live with them. Some of the minor controls feel cheap. The Touring trim is a little nicer inside. If memory serves a Yaris looks and feels cheaper inside. The Fiesta has the nicest interior in this class, with the Versa in second.

    • 0 avatar
      JeremyR

      If I were going to buy a new car, it would have been this Mazda2 or the Fiesta. I’m sure the aftermarket will come up with ways to add a few horsepower. (I haven’t driven a Mazda2 but the Fiesta felt reasonably powered for what it is.)

      However, after weighing these cars against a somewhat-used Fit, Focus or Mazda3, I ended up with a 2007 Fit for under $11K–another cheap, simple car that handles well even though it doesn’t have much power.

    • 0 avatar

      @Michael Karesh

      Bur 120 hp is actually to much to expect from a 1.5. In reality 100 hp from a “simple” 1.5 is actually quite good. You’d have to bump it up to 1.6. Why doesn’t Mazda do it? Costs? Americans are just too spoiled with power.

  • avatar
    AaronH

    It is a short-stroke engine with no bottom-end torque…But it should rev smooth and make a lot of noise even though it can’t get out of it’s own way.

    Give me a LS9.

  • avatar
    lawmonkey

    I was surprised by the lack of audio USB integration.  I think this is the biggest weakness in Mazda’s portfolio now (do any of their cars have it beyond the wonky dealer installed accessory that replaces satellite radio?), and to me it seems like a fix where the reward would justify any relatively meager development costs.  I have one car with a USB input, and one without (also a Mazda), and to me it makes an appreciable difference in the livability of the car.  Especially with the target demographic, this should be fixed post haste.
     
    Hopefully they don’t pull a GM and just yank the nameplate entirely instead of refining it, as the review rightfully fears.

  • avatar
    jmo

    “I say “around town” because at highway speeds the car gets blown about a bit and the ride becomes notably less absorbent…With the manual, the engine is turning 3,000 rpm at 70 mph in fifth, so there’s also some engine noise..”

    Yes, seems like everything could be solved with some extra sound insulation, some more metal, and a bigger engine.  But, TTAC claims to be so desperate for a cheap, light, slow car….well, that is until they drive one.

    • 0 avatar

      Even a 1.5 should be easily capable of 120 horsepower. So a larger engine isn’t a necessity.
      The highway ride is certainly livable. While I felt it was important to note that the car is no Lexus on the highway, you’ll note that the ride is not dinged in the conclusion.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      “Even a 1.5 should be easily capable of 120 horsepower. So a larger engine isn’t a necessity.”

      Well, you’d have to add some complexity and cost. 

      This isn’t directed at you specifically but you get a lot of “darn modern technology” I just want something cheap and easy to fix on TTAC.  Well, cheap and easy to fix might not get you an emissions legal 80 bhp/L  with a decent torque profile.

    • 0 avatar

      @MK: Since the mileage figs are ~kinda high-ish, you might be able to chip this as it seems to be running at greater a/f than 14:1. +It is a DOHC 16v w/ VVT inst. of an 8v.
       
      I think the Minis were pulling 115 out of a 1.6.
       
      If you take the spec of the 2.0 3, it’s 74hp/l. So that rate for this motor gives 111hp. 120 is doable, but do you void your warranty if you do it for those ~$400 in parts?
       
      So yes, it would be nice from the factory; maybe they’re concerned with making a 2 so powerful it might cannibalize 3 sales in the 5-door variant?
       
       

    • 0 avatar
      Tosh

      I think a weaker engine is correct to start with. Then offer a MazdaSpeed2 later.

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    How long until they just ditch the front quarter panels entirely and replace them with one solid expanse of headlight?

  • avatar

    I think the real problem with the Mazda 2 is the Ford Fiesta, Ford may have given the Fiesta a higher sticker, but the entire experience is much better than the 2, and there’s always the sedan variant for those that are hatch adverse.

  • avatar
    grzydj

    I like this little car a lot, but I’d like a MazdaSpeed2 even more. Strap a little turbo to it and another 30 to 40 HP and it’d a blast to drive.

  • avatar
    mtypex

    I’m not feeling getting excited about this over a Honda Fit.

    • 0 avatar

      The Mazda is more fun to drive than the Fit, but much less practical. The most exciting thing in the fit is the “magic” second row seat.

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      The problem with the Fit is it’s so freakin’ ugly (and that’s saying something up against The Joker-grin front-end that Mazda has slapped on its entire model line-up).

      The latest C&D has a comparison between the Fiesta, Mazda2, and Fit. The biggest negative they could come up with on the Fit was its dorky appearance.

      It’s a shame because, looks aside, the Fit is a marvel of packaging efficiency in a sub-compact car. It’s still the class leader.

  • avatar
    Wagen

    And so it seems the Mazda of today has become the Honda I remember from ’80s and ’90s before they lost their way.  Except Honda engines always seemed quite rev-happy.  In their near-redline peak, they did provide joy.  Good job on the packaging and handling, now please fix the powertrain, Mazda. And kudos to you for making stability control standard. Maybe it’s just not visible in the pictures, but where’s the fuel gauge?

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    For Baruthian levels of pleasure/horror, Mazda could slap in a Renesis. Although Jack would probably hate the fu*%!#@ brakes – and poser piston heads and Consumer’s Union would bleat about oil consumption…

  • avatar
    Truckducken

    What about the bleepin’ cupholders?
     
    Seriously, we are spoiled. Other than a gear ratio or engine tweak, this car sounds pretty good for an econobox. And frankly, if you wanna race, this might not be the right platform. On a more on-target note, I hope this and the Ford twin put the Aveo (unsat at any speed) out of its misery.

  • avatar

    What’s the tire size on the Mazda2?

  • avatar
    Russycle

    So  is it easier/cheaper to upgrade the 2′s engine to Fiesta’s level or Fiesta’s handling to the 2′s level?

  • avatar
    Slowtege

    I, personally, have been happy that Mazda’s brought this car over. Sloped rear roofline and tilted-forward rear hatch won’t win any space contests, but it looks fun, which is what I think Mazda was going for to a decent degree. 2300 lbs is seriously light for modern standards. Yes, we see the results of that effort, but I applaud Mazda for the effort.

    The gearing issue seems to be a fairly chronic thing. As a driver of a 98 Protege with the bespoke-to-the-second-gen-Protege Z5 1.5L and (thank God) a 5 speed manual I deal with this as well. Looks like the roughly 40% ratio reduction philosophy from 1st to 2nd has been retained (my car, gen 3 Protege, ‘Speed3…). I would continue to agree with you guys in saying this makes no sense on a small displacement engine. Though 2nd through 5th seem to be evenly and fairly closely geared (thankfully). Mine spins at about 3200 at 70 in fifth.

    Mazda showed a MazdaSpeed2 concept at the LA Auto Show when I went last year. Yes, I like a 3″ drop and low profile tires (they were on multispoke 17″ rims I believe), but the car looked seriously cool. More power from the engine would be welcome, and I hope Mazda would oblige. In the mean time, a modest lowering livens the handling up, as will a cold air intake (did it to mine–low power revolution: it freely revs from 4000-6500 now and sounds like it enjoys it unlike before).

    Renesis in this would be incredibly fun. Talk about a sleeper.

  • avatar
    Demetri

    Mazda knows that the engine sucks, which is why they are working on a new engine series.  The engine in the Mazda2 dates back to the Protege circa 1995.  About 2 years from now, all Mazdas will have new engines.  Supposedly they’re going to debut the Sky-G engine on next year’s refreshed 2012 Mazda3, which is also supposed to have some work done to the much derided “grin”.

    • 0 avatar
      Slowtege

      Right you are about the Z engine lineage. It looks like the Z5 was the start and later iterations were employed in this car. I had a feeling it might be but failed to do really any more research on it. Good call.

  • avatar
    srogers

    I love this green. But the one that I looked at had sh1tty paint. I don’t know what the technical term for it is, but it’s like enlarged orange peel.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    Why do you complain about 3000rpm at 70? My only beef with my ’05 Scion xB is that it’s turning *3500* at 70mph.

  • avatar
    SecretAznMan

    It seems like Mazda has hired engineers with severe savantism, genius in a small area but developmental issues in many others.  Despite a few hiccups, Mazda just knows best how to mass market cars that connect the driver to the road and provide a sense of satisfaction and exhilaration even.  But as a cruel twist, owners much sacrifice something to gain admission to this world.  It just seems like in most cases, this sacrifice comes in the drivetrain.  The MX-5 has an engine appropriate for John Deere.  It revs 3000 rpm in 6th gear at 60 MPH.  Not surprisingly, it nets under 30 MPG on the highway.  The CX-7 with the high level engine puts out decent power but returns atrocious fuel economy for an engine its size.  Do we even need to talk about the RX-8?  I’m really looking forward to the Sky engine series.  The recent hype makes them sound like an ICE miracle.  For Mazda’s sake and automotive enthusiasts, I hope they are.  At some point, this game they play of sacrificing one joy for another is going to wear off.

  • avatar
    Winkelman

    This car is a worthy successor to my 1982 Civic 1500 GL.  A simple, straight-to-the-point, fun car.  The Civic would rev at 2,800 rpm at 70 mph.

    • 0 avatar

      I drove a 1982 Civic for a job I had at a pharmacy back in high school. Slow, but very fun. The hood shook violently on the highway. We’d pretty much trashed it when a tourists rearended the car when parked. The pharmacy owner replaced it with an automatic Nissan pickup.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    “Equip a Fiesta similarly then adjust for feature differences and the Mazda has about a $250 advantage.”

    I can’t imagine not springing for a Fiesta with the larger engine, even if it’s only an additional 100cc. When you’re making diminutive amounts of horsepower/torque, you need every extra little bit of ‘oomph’ you can get, and $250 is dirt cheap for an honest, extra 19hp.

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    I forgot to mention it earlier.  Nice review.
     
    I had bought a 99 Suzuki Swift with 1.3L and five speed back in 04.  It was fun to drive, but you had to keep the revs up – and – turn off the AC while passing or getting on the freeway.  I’m sure that the Swift at 65 horsepower was slower than this Mazda 2.

    Also, I don’t remember the exact size, but the 13″ tires were puny.
     
    I sold it when oil hit $150 a barrel and kind of miss it even though I’m 6’2” with a 34 inseam.

  • avatar
    stationwagon

    @ Michael Karesh
    when you say “at highway speeds the car gets blown about a bit”
    does it mean the car has high-speed instability, or does it feel like an SUV in a crosswind, or something else? One thing I hate is a car that feels like it will roll over in a corner or a cross-wind. This car would be a lot better if it had more horsepower, they should offer a bigger 4-cylinder as an option, and market the base engine as “gaia” or “green.”

    • 0 avatar

      I drove the car on a fairly windy day, and on the highly it seemed more sensitive to crosswinds than the average car and also felt a little unsettled. The light weight no doubt plays a role. Not a huge deal, but certainly not the ideal car for highway travel.

  • avatar

    Michael, it’s funny that you say that the Mazda2 could use a drivetrain transplant. That’s my opinion of the Honda CR-Z, which with the K series engines (200-260HP) would be a slick little sports coupe.

  • avatar
    xyzzy

    My first car was a 1987 Toyota Corolla FX16 and this one reminds me of that — simple and fun (possibly), hatchback with a relatively plain interior and no backseat room.  On paper they aren’t much different, the FX16 had 108 hp and weighed 2350 lbs for 21.76 lbs/hp.  This Mazda 2 is 100 hp and 2306 lbs for 23 lb/hp, so they aren’t that much different.  I wouldn’t mind driving this car to see what it’s like, I wonder if it would bring back 1980s compact car memories.

  • avatar
    Kevin Jaeger

    Nice review.  I’m actually in the market for a car like this at the moment.  I’ve been waiting for a worthy successor to my 86 VW GTI and it looks like this may be a candidate.
     
    I’m disappointed to read your comments about the Fiesta’s handling.  I’ve had high hopes for it given the European reviews, but it will be yet another disappointing European transplant.

  • avatar
    threeer

    The GLC lives!  I’m trying to talk my sister into this as her next commuter car when the first ones start hitting the used lot…small, simple…just enough fun to make it entertaining and she doesn’t need (or want) a ton of power as she commutes back and forth to work.

  • avatar
    johnny ro

    Why does this thing come with V rated tires?

    I should go drive one, but no dealer near Boston will have a manual on the lot.

    It needs a 1.6 with 6m, or, uncork the 1.5 and it still needs a 6m.

    Agree on the rust. What does anyone know about Mazda plans for their rust problem?

    • 0 avatar
      mrhappypants

      I should go drive one, but no dealer near Boston will have a manual on the lot.

      http://mazdausa.com/MusaWeb/vlSelectVehicle.action?isCPOSearch=false&imageLocation=musa2%2Fimages%2Fshop%2Fcommon%2Fmodels%2F2011%2Fsnapshot%2Fmz2%2Fimg_snapshot_mz2_ext_green.png&hasMaxDealerAlreadyShown=false&interiorCode=&vehicleCode=MZ2&tranCode=&totalVehicles=63&start=1&trans=ALL&isFromDealer=false&modelTrimName=MAZDA2&incentives=&vtype=NEW&dealerName=&selectedDealerId=&engine=ALL&isComplete=true&zip=&dealerId=&trim=ALL&numberOfDealers=50&year=2011&name=MAZDA2&vin=JM1DE1HZ0B0101683&mscCode=null&page=1&msrp=13%2C980&isDealerMDOL=true&vehicleIndex=5&distance=50&fromTool=&city=boston&exteriorCode=ALL&yearTrimCombo=ALL&state=MA&engineCode=&promo=null&exterior=ALL&pagingOffset=0&sort=distance&foundVins=JM1DE1HZ0B0105345%2CJM1DE1HZ7B0105343%2CJM1DE1HZ8B0105688%2CJM1DE1HZ0B0105247%2CJM1DE1HZ2B0104293%2CJM1DE1HZ0B0101683%2CJM1DE1HZ3B0103315%2CJM1DE1HZ5B0102375%2CJM1DE1HZ3B0103833%2CJM1DE1HZ8B0104251&interior=ALL

      Let us know what you find out.
       

  • avatar
    TokyoPlumber

    When I saw the horsepower and weight figures for this 2011 Mazda2 I started thinking about these compared to some of the “small” cars owned by my family:

    1970′s: 1977 Renault 4 (0.85L I-4) – 36hp – 1,350lbs (2.67hp / 100lbs)
    1980′s: 1987 Dodge Colt Hatchback (1.5L I-4) – 68hp – 1,985lbs (3.43hp / 100lbs)
    1990′s: 1995 Saturn SL (1.9L I-4) – 100hp – 2,325lbs (4.30hp / 100lbs)
    2000′s: 2008 Toyota Corolla (1.8L I-4) – 126hp – 2,600 lbs (4.85hp / 100lbs)
     
    The Mazda2 is very comparable to the 1995 Saturn SL in terms of weight (2,306lbs vs 2,325lbs) and engine power (100hp vs 100hp).  I looked over a few more specifications and found the cars to be extraordinarily similar in many other ways:
     
    Base Price:
    2011 Mazda2 – $14,730 USD
    1995 Saturn SL – $9,995 USD (~$14,325 USD Adjusted For Inflation)
     
    Passenger and Cargo Volume:
    2011 Mazda2 – 87.1 cu ft / 13.3 cu ft (back seats up)
    1995 Saturn SL – 88.7 cu ft / 11.9 cu ft
     
    Fuel Economy:
    2011 Mazda2 (5 speed manual) – 29 City / 35 Highway
    1995 Saturn SL (5 speed manual) – 24 City / 36 Highway (using current EPA calculation method).
     
    The base Saturn was not as well equipped as this Mazda2.  Also the Saturn didn’t come with all the newer safety features found in the Mazda (ie, side impact airbags, side curtain airbags, dynamic stability control, etc…).  However, in the most basic of terms (price, size and fuel economy) the cars are EXTREMELY similar.  It’s kind of surprising that the gap between a sixteen year old domestic and a brand new import would amount to a bit of extra equipment, a few more airbags and stability control!

  • avatar
    sardaukar

    I have an 02 Protege5, and I’m dreading the day I have to replace it because I know I won’t be able to have as much fun with whatever I end up getting. Honestly, maybe I should just put my dollars into stretching the Protege’s lifetime, especially if I can find a 6-speed to throw in it….

  • avatar
    James2

    This car reminds me of my old Mazda 323. Light weight, no power, not enough gears to go around and sparsely equipped. But what a Great Little Car (pun intended) to drive. Fun, easy to throw into corners. Alas, my tastes have, ahem, matured since then and I need a little more power and a few more creature features. I do hope the Sky engine is all that it’s cracked up to be and Mazda has scheduled a heart transplant, along with maybe plugging-in a DCT transmission. Right now, though, I think they are waiting to see if there’s a big enough market for this size car before spending any resources on it.

  • avatar
    Sam P

    What’s the big deal about 3,000 rpms at 70 mph? My previous car (’98 Subaru Outback 5-speed) turned over 3400 rpms at 70. My first car (’83 Saab 900S) was over 3,000 rpms at 60 mph, and neither car had excessive noise, vibration, or harshness at those speeds & RPMS.
     

  • avatar
    TR4

    Some simple analysis shows that the car is plenty high geared:
    1.   At 70 mph the engine is at only 75% of its peak torque speed of 4000 rpm.  Downshifting would be necessary for maximum acceleration at this speed.
    2.   Peak power is at 6000 rpm so the “theoretical” top speed would be 140 mph.  Obviously a 100 hp car won’t go this fast.  This means the car would top out at well below peak power rpm which is a good definition of an overdrive/high gear.

    Apparently some of the posters here are not acquainted with the realities of a modestly powered car with a fairly high revving engine.  I expect the Mazda powertrain engineers are.

  • avatar
    niky

    Strangely. that 120 hp Fiesta (in manual form) is a second slower to 60 than the Mazda2. The Fit aside, the Mazda2 isn’t down on power compared to anything else in the class… and the engine is delightfully revvy compared to most (except, again, the Honda 1.5).
    All I’d complain about is the rubbery shifter feel.
     

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      Blame the gearing the US Fiesta gets. In order to get the mileage that the Fiesta manages (when I reviewed the US Fiesta I consistently got over 40MPG in mixed driving) they altered the gear ratios making a 0-60 run take gears 1-3 rather than the EU model that only uses gears 1 and 2. Honestly, the Ford SYNC system is enough to make me want the Fiesta over the 2, even if the 2 handles better. A small, inexpensive car with an excellent voice command system for the radio/media system and rudimentary navigation via the SYNC services is a big deal to me.

  • avatar
    tedward

    Thanks for reviewing this car, it’s the one I’ve been most curious about in the class for sure. I would like to point out that after the break in oil is changed that 35mpg highway rating might as well be tossed out the window. The Fit is rated at 33 and cruising at 65-70 nets me 39.9mpg now that it’s got 15k+ miles on it. Best recorded milage was 42 driving from NYC to Maine, and that was using cruise control, not being a slowpoke. The problem is the EPA’s test cylce with manual transmissions, I only get what they claim when I drive automatics, or, in a manual, when in very slow traffic (32-34mpg), in fact I exactly average the EPA’s highway numbers driving in NYC, again, not slowly.
     
    All of these cars need a 6 speed tranny. I don’t think it’s cost cutting, rather, I think it would take some serious shine off of their much more profitable, and larger, relatives. These guys need the short gears, and aggressive final gear ratios, that is as it should be.
     
    I’ve noticed that the Fit operates on the heavy flywheel, low rpm torque cam strategy (K series it is not), is the 2 set up the same way? This generation of sub 2 liter engines seem to run exactly the way that every VW 2.0(slow) drivetrain I’ve ever experienced does (with very similar numbers posted as well).

  • avatar
    Alex L. Dykes

    A 6 speed certainly helps, the Fiesta gets the 6 speed dual clutch transmission which certainly delivers better mileage than the 5-speed manual in the Festa and I would wager much better mileage than the Mazda slush box. It is a pity that when Mazda was kicked out of the Ford home that they didn’t get to take the 6 speed tranny with them.

  • avatar
    niky

    It’s less the flywheel and more the electronic throttle. All newer engines feel that way… not as willing to rev and hanging after you let off.
     

    • 0 avatar
      tedward

      I know that the e-throttles are programmed to gradually come off at throttle lift, and that’s a worthy gripe in it’s own right. What I was referring to was the balance between cam setup, flighwheel weight, gearing, etc… that gives the engine it’s characteristic torque peak. The Fit isn’t really optimized for high rpm use like a Civic Si is (extreme example), the issue is that this extreme example is part of the family tree. They’ve traded a lofty torque peak for low rpm driveability in the brand’s most brand value loyal vehicle (less lugging).

  • avatar
    niky

    Ah. Well… while it’s more torque-biased than the K20, the long-stroke L15′s power comes on relatively high on the cam compared to other economy engines (most complaints about the L-series actually focus on the perceived lack of low-end). The Mazda2 mill feels a little more robust in the mid-range, though not as wheezy as the Toyota 1.5 at high rpms (despite not being very powerful).

    • 0 avatar
      Norma

      niky: ” … the long-stroke L15′s power comes on relatively high on the cam compared to other economy engines (most complaints about the L-series actually focus on the perceived lack of low-end). The Mazda2 mill feels a little more robust in the mid-range, …”
      The problem of Mazda2′s engine is, once you hit the max. torque of 98 lb-ft at 4,000 rpm, it goes down hill pretty fast then on, to about 87.5 lb-ft of torque at 6,000 rpm.
      On the contrary, the L15 in Honda Fit maintains at about 98 lb-ft of torque from 3,000-6,000 rpm.

  • avatar
    Steven02

    Best part of the article…
    “Despite the car’s low curb weight, this engine feels even weaker than the specs suggest. Below 3,500 rpm there’s nothing. Above 3,500 there’s not much more.”

  • avatar
    Ronman

    Nice review Michael, i’ve owned one in lebanon for more than 2 years now and all the little niggles you have found with the car have so far dissipated. on a long term, the 2 is a great car. i have the automatic version. in performance driving the powertrain leaves much to be desired because the chassis deserves much more go power. but when driven in everyday city traffic and occasional mountain trips with the wife and kid, you forget about the power (not needed) and remember that you have a great car under you… the only thing i can still complain about are the stock Toyo tires on mine, they lack a lot of grip and make the car loose a lot of its potential…
    but overall it’s a great car, highly recommendable for the price, and having sampled the latest Aveo  and Fit, I can say the following:
     
    if you want a micro car that can double as a wardrobe and turn on a dime, get the Fit, if you want to have fun driving slow, get the 2, if you want to lag behind and risk being run over by a truck get the Aveo…it looks much better than it truly is… just an old dewoo with some make up i think… still stinks, and will age a decade in one year inside and out… the Mazda 2 and Honda Fit however hold up to the test of time pretty damn well…mine still looks brand new after a good wash

  • avatar
    ciddyguy

    Great article Michael,
     
    I’m cross shopping this car with the Ford Fiesta, the Honda Fit, the Kia Soul and the new Fiat 500 when it arrives in showrooms early next year and so far I’ve test driven the Fit and the Fiesta.
     
    So far, I like the Fit in many ways, but it just doesn’t feel as sporty as it ought to, perhaps the automatic is the culprit here as it’s a little slow to decide to downshift when I’ve stomped on the accelerator to get up to speed quickly, whilst the Fiesta’s automatic is much quicker to respond to my foot in the same manner and thus feels much sportier than the Fit so there if you want sporty pretensions and an automatic and don’t mind shifting the thing yourself, get the Fit Sport as it’ll have the shift paddles, the Fiesta doesn’t even offer a shift it yourself option for its new auto sadly, but still it didn’t blunt too much of its performance, thus its sporting pretensions.
     
    That said, the Fit overall felt less sporty than it ought to but I would probably check it out with the manual to see what the difference is. I was looking at a shift it yourself automatic due to having tired of traversing steep hills and bog slow rush hour in a manual equipped older Ranger truck that I picked up almost 5 years ago as a daily driver and really, it’s not the best combo for that kind of driving all the time IMO and having driven manuals in this type of terrain for 18 years, it gets old, but lately after finally letting the RPMs reach 4000rpm before shifting up brings back the fun I was missing, even in this old truck (with the 4.0L V6 [a pushrod at that and 2WD], suddenly it felt alive, now I may be sticking with a manual after all.

    Then, the fumble. The 1.5-liter four-cylinder, with a peak output of only 100 horsepower, is weakest-in-class. Despite the car’s low curb weight, this engine feels even weaker than the specs suggest. Below 3,500 rpm there’s nothing. Above 3,500 there’s not much more. Compounding the problem, the spread between first and second gear is unusually wide. Shift at 5,000 rpm, and you end up dead in the water at 3,000. To avoid falling into this hole, it’s necessary to shift near the 6,300 rpm redline. The engine is smooth, but even around its peak it provides no joy. Like those of more powerful (yet still overburdened) powertrains in competitors, the EPA ratings fail to impress: a less-than-stellar 29/35. A sixth gear would also help here.

    However this statement above from your post about the motor doesn’t sound all that positive in that one has to keep the revs up much higher than is considered optimal for performance, most small motors of this type that I’ve had experience in, generally begin building their torque at 2500-3000rpms and continue to get stronger as you hit 4000 and above, heck that was how the 1500cc motor in my ’83 Civic was and it was hella fun, but then again, it WAS only 1500# or so but to have squat real torque below 3000, 3500 and hardly any additional above that point just doesn’t sound ideal but I will have to test drive one to see for myself on this as I like zippy cars but they sure as heck don’t need to be like GTI fast but as long as it feels zippy and such, that’s fine by me, as long as there is adequate passing reserves when zipping along at 70 or so on the freeway and it sounds like this motor may not have much left once up to speed on the freeway.
     
    I read that the 1.2L 8V 4 cyl that is available in the Fiat 500 in Europe requires additional shifting to make use of its power band too but the reviewer said it was more than adequate on their motorways (their equivalent to our expressways) but not knowing the speeds over there, unless the equivalent of our 65-70mph, that’s saying something. That said, it ONLY produces something like 68HP, not much more than the 1500cc motor in my old Civic, but the car itself weighs in, in Euro spec just over 2000# if I recall too and that’s always been the way with small motors, especially those made prior to variable valve timing, which is almost universal in all motors now which should in my mind mitigate some of this issue of lack of torque at lower rpms.
     
    I like the Mazda 2′s overall looks and such and will definitely check it out when it’s not pouring down raining, me trying to get stuff done or out of town shortly, as is the Soul too. The Fiat, btw will only get the 1.4 multiair motor here, at least initially as there might be a slight chance we see the twinair motor here, but in a hybrid format I think.

     
     

  • avatar
    dlc

    I drove one a couple weeks ago, and liked it a lot.  I currently drive a 2008 BMW 328i, and the Mazda 2 wasn’t the huge step down in driving quality I might have expected.  Yeah, it’s low on torque, but it didn’t seem slow (certainly as quick or quicker than the Protege 5 I drove many years ago) and shifting and steering were a delight.  It feels light, in a good way.  It’s the first car in about 10 years I’ve driven that reminds me of my 1987 CRX Si.

  • avatar
    minibee

    I bought one yesterday. The car can get 41 mpg with a light foot. It cost me $14,900 0% interest 0 down. My other car is 2002 Boxster S. I needed something cheap to go grocery shopping and commute to work. It’s a 35 mile commute. I drove the Fiesta which was absolute garbage with poor handling a vague, long throw shifter and the cheapest plastic interior you’ll ever see. I’m impressed with the shifter,the handling, the good use of interior plastics the cheap price non-existent interest rate. Now my Porsche can be used for pleasure and good weather. i can save on the expensive tires and oil changes while keeping the miles down on my real car. I was pleasantly surprised. And don’t forget that international crises are driving the price of gas through the roof.I bought the blue one.

  • avatar
    fiatboy

    Minibee’s comment was the most persuasive, having voted with his checkbook.  I also owned an RX-8 and thought it had the best steering available since the days of manual rack and pinion.  If the Mazda2 steers as well, it covers a lot of sins.  Frosts me that Yaris wants you to pay for a center arm rest but at least they offer one.  I looked at the Mazda2 and it is worth the trip to the showroom to see it.  Wonder how many Mazda ships will be tied up in port now because of the disaster in japan? The Yaris salesman claimed they were flyin off the lot because of fear about the price of gasoline.  I see Mazda2s flying as well.  Lots of Tundras and Ram superduty trucks will be parked in the used car lot, again. 

  • avatar
    mechmark

    well guys i dont know what car you were driving but my weeife and i and  19 yr old son all test drove one this afternoon.
    pretty zippy with the manual 5 speed  and as for 3 grand at 70 speeds in fith gear
    with 3 full size men in the car at 3 grand in fourth gear i was at 70  and the test drive averaged 34 mpg.
    no it s not a rx 8 or a mx 6 butit will work in fact after driving  one to get for my son
    we are going  tomorrow to pick up one for him and one for the wife  ZOOM ZOOM

    • 0 avatar
      swordfysh

      I agree with this guy. I tried the M2 at the dealers. Sure, it’s quite anemic compared to other subcompacts, but it is what a slow but fun little car should be.

      Reminds me of my 1992 Mazda MX-3 5-speed stick with 1.6 4-cyl 88hp and 98ft torque. It’s slow but it’s made to be flogged and still drives young, because it’s light. Not many coupes were 4-seater with a liftback trunk capable of carrying furniture with the seat down. Now that is fun and practicality put together.

      The Mazda 2, by comparison, is even more fun. Same weight, same torque, but with 4 doors, a slightly taller 5th gear, and all the fancy safety features to ensure my odds of dying in the car are a LOT lower. They managed to bring the spirit of an agile, lightweight car back from the dead and add stuff to it! Yes, I admit it’s not as good looking as an MX-3 and 4-spd AT is bad, but they’re only a few tweaks away from making this a car unique in its class, don’t you agree? If they made a SKYACTIV Mazdaspeed2 for the right price I’d probably get it in a heartbeat.

  • avatar
    troyohchatter

    Underpowered? I don’t get that in the least. Used to be 0-60 in 10 flat was quite acceptable. As I review my past vehicles, I guess I have a thing for underpowered. 1980 Datsun 310, 1983 Subaru, 1984 Toyota Van, and a 1989 S-10, all of which had manual transmissions and all of which were considerably slower than the Mazda 2.

    I found the Mazda2 had more than enough power and it’s a hoot, drives like a slot car. Nothing better than driving a go cart to work and back.

    In fact, I like it so much, I bought one!


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