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First Drive: 2011 Mazda2

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Whatever you do, don't call the 2011 Mazda2 a Fiesta clone. At least not within earshot of a Mazda employee--that is, unless you're looking to be educated on the many differences between the two. But whether this is Mazda's take on the Fiesta or a unique car in its own right, it's very good, and that comes through whether you're dicing it up in city traffic, slogging down the freeway, or hustling through the back country.

Disclaimer: Mazda flew us up to Montreal, lodged us in a very nice old town hotel, and fed us high-end French and Italian food like they were afraid we might be starving to death. Along the way, we found about 5 hours of seat time in the new Mazda2, touring what must be some of the roughest roads in the province.

Not A Bed Of Roses
First, lets dispense with the complaints. Though we know this is a $14,000-$18,000 (for most buyers) hatchback, we could still stand a little more power, particularly in the four-speed automatic model. With the five-speed manual transmission you can keep the revs of the 1.5-liter, 100-horsepower engine up above 3,500 and have enough juice to keep things interesting, but it requires a good bit of stirring the gearbox. The wide-spread four-speed, however, invariably winds out one gear only to fall a bit too low in the powerband for the next. And there's no manual shift mode with the slushbox, either. Not very zoom-zoom.

The Mazda2 is also not a comfy home for drivers much taller than six feet. At 6' 2", I found little leg room and the tilt-adjustable steering wheel could have gone a bit higher even when set to its maximum elevation. Headroom wasn't ample--I had about two inches to spare--but it wasn't claustrophobic, either. At any rate, you're not going to get much in the backseat behind a six-footer, though children should be comfortable behind even the rear-most seating position. Regular-sized folk will find legroom front and rear surprisingly good, however, with enough room to seat most adults at all four corners. Compared to the Mazda3, you're not giving up much interior space.

That's really all we can pick at on the little car--for its price range, the interior is nice but not special, the seats comfortable and supportive but not sporty, and the cargo room is better than you'd expect with the almost coupe-like profile, especially once you lay down the 60/40 split folding seats. Oh, and you'll easily average somewhere in the mid-30s for miles per gallon, too, even if you like to flog it about a bit--or at least we did.


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Comments (8)
  1. I believe the Ford Fiesta (was) the clone.
     
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  2. What a bizarre article. It's Mazda's platform, not Ford's, and the Mazda 2 based Ford Fiesta was released years after the Mazda 2. Platform sharing doesn't mean cloning... if you look closely the monocoques of the two cars are certainly different... let alone most other things... albeit small in many areas.
    The Mazda 2 is a Ford Fiesta angle is just plain nonsense.
    It's like saying a Maserati is a Ferrari clone.
     
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  3. Gazzed, David--you and I know this. But for most people here in the U.S., the car they were first familiar with wasn't the Mazda2 (or Demio, as it's called elsewhere) but the Fiesta, thanks to their (in)famous social media campaign.
    Accordingly, a lot of folks think the Fiesta is the original, or at least that it was designed as the "main" car for the platform/architecture, and the Mazda2 is the secondary. Not saying they're right (they're not), but explaining it in terms the audience would understand.
    All Fiesta/Mazda2 stuff aside, the 2 is a very good car in its own right, regardless of its corporate bloodlines, as I point out.
     
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  4. I never realized that the Mini was priced so competitively in the US market. Here, it costs nearly twice as much as the Mazda2 (The Mini is $31,100 while the Mazda2 starts from $16,990). In fact, the Mini is even more expensive than the Mazda6 here.
     
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  5. Sorry Nelson, didn't mean to come on too strong. We've been blessed with the Mazda 2 in Australia years ahead of the latest model Ford Fiestas. And, I must admit, I am a Mazda fan. The 2 is wonderful save for the budget nature of the car effecting Mazda's bugbear, NVH, and material choices.
     
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  6. 14 to 18 grand for this tiny car? Geez, why can't someone make a car under 8 grand anymore? Of course, even if a foreign car maker did make a cheap car, they would tax the crap out of it here in America...
     
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  7. nice post specially The Mazda2 is also not a comfy home for drivers much taller than six feet. At 6' 2", I found little leg room and the tilt-adjustable steering wheel could have gone a bit higher even when set to its maximum elevation. Headroom wasn't ample--I had about two inches to spare--but it wasn't claustrophobic, either. At any rate, you're not going to get much in the backseat behind a six-footer, though children should be comfortable behind even the rear-most seating position.....
     
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  8. I had a Mazda 2 as a rental when my personal car was totaled early last year. I can honestly say I hated to return it when I finally found a replacement car to purchase. No, this car isn't pretty and there are no frills inside (the author of this article failed to mention that the lock buttons for the doors are located smack dab in the small console area between the two front seats, and not on either of the front doors, as one would expect), but the handling was great, the mileage was good, and I found the 1.6 liter engine to be peppy, even with the automatic trans. For what it is, the Mazda two is indeed a great city car for commuting daily. You also won't have a problem in most cases locating a parking spot for it either.
     
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