2011 Mazda 2: Least Popular Small Car in the Fleet?
August 03, 2011
If you've been following or voting in Donna's recent Long-Term Road Test blog poll, then you know you're looking at everybody's least favorite small car in our fleet. I take issue with that, because the 2011 Mazda 2 is my favorite small car in our fleet. (I had planned to drive it to Montana, until it was suggested that the BMW 528i needed the miles.)
To me, the Mazda 2 is the easy pick out of our current stable of smallish cars. (Well, easy, with the acknowledgement that Project Miata is sidelined right now and, that even when it's running well, it's still an elderly car that wouldn't be a great choice as your sole daily driver -- though some kind of platoon deal with a newer econobox could work.)
I argue that the 2 has the best steering in this group -- it's precise with near perfect effort levels and a lot more feel than you expect from EPS. It also has an easy clutch takeup (at least it does in my preferred seating position) and I like how the shifter moves through the gates (medium-length throws). And I kind of enjoy the growl from its 1.5-liter engine.
None of the other cars you voted on can compete in these areas. I would have expected I'd lobby for the Mini Countryman, but no, the clutch doesn't give you enough feel and it's hard to complete a gearchange smoothly. Also, this Mini is unsmall, and it lacks the Cooper hatch's wonderfully unencumbered feel through corners.
The Fiat 500 has its moments, but it doesn't feel quite like a real car compared to the Mazda. The ride is busier, the seating postion is more of a perch at your local watering hole than an actual seat, and acceleration is hopelessly pokey. Unquestionably, the Fiat is better looking than the Mazda (which looks like a bald old man when it's painted white), but that's not how I choose cars.
Finally, the Nissan Juke. This strange crossover brew is a lot more enjoyable than any of us expected, but it's high off the ground and ours is missing that all-important third pedal. So Mazda 2 all the way.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 11,316 miles