No Pods, Please - 2011 Mazda 2 Touring Long-Term Road Test

2011 Mazda 2 Long-Term Road Test

2011 Mazda 2 Touring: No Pods, Please

November 09, 2010


Sure, cheap and cheerful transportation appeals to everyone and you don't have to look much further than the crazed enthusiasm for the impending arrival of the Fiat 500 in Chrysler dealerships to find the evidence.

But no one wants to drive around in a pod, some kind of weird plastic bubble that makes twittering noises like George Jetson's flying car. And the best thing about the Mazda 2 is the fact that it's not just a pod.

There's plenty to talk about when it comes to the way the Mazda 2 drives, of course, but for me it's just the fact that you can actually see out of it.

Most of these small front-wheel-drive cars derive most of their chassis rigidity from the front bulkhead, so when you take a seat there's this giant plastic-covered structure in front of you. As great as the Ford Fiesta is in every respect, you can barely peer over the dash and see the road ahead, even when you jack up the height of the driver seat. Maybe it's supposed to make you feel safe, but instead I feel like I'm sitting in a transportation pod, not a car.

In comparison, the Mazda 2 lets you actually see the road in front of you through the windshield, while the low beltline of the side windows helps enhance the sense of spaciousness. The visibility might be the same as George Jetson's plastic bubble, but I don't hear any twittering noises. It's more evidence that the ergonomics of small cars are just as important as the horsepower under the hood.

It's going to be interesting when cars like the Fiat 500 and Chevrolet Spark show up in the U.S. We'll see if people embrace them as cars or dismiss them as clever but essentially irrelevant imitations of George Jetson's pod.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, @ 2,070 miles

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