2011 Mazda MAZDA2 Sport 4dr Hatchback (1.5L 4cyl 5M)
In the U.S., the 2 must be one of the great automotive secrets. Since buying mine more than a month ago, I've seen all of one other on the road, and I live in a metro area where subcompacts are common. It's such a great, satisfying car at a low price that it's hard to understand why Mazda dealerships can't seem to give them away.
The 2 may seem to be just a cheap economy car for those on budget, but I beg to differ.
As a fan of Euro-style small, quick hatches (last car was a Ford SVT Focus), I had to give the 2 a try. It's amazingly fun to drive. It's not fast in a straight line, but it's quick enough. And the features, fuel mileage, and practicality make it a great all-arounder.
Handling, steering, and braking--all very quick and precise, much sharper and sports-car like than similar cars of this type I've driven.
The gearbox is wonderful, with light, short throws, and the placement of the shifter only looks odd at first. It feels great, much more like the shift action of a sports or even race car.
Styling inside and out is nicely coordinated--simple and purposeful, yet with flair.
Surprisingly comfortable and composed ride on most roads.
Size and visibility makes it perfect for city driving.
Features for the money--even the Sport has almost everything you need. I bought a Honda Accord 12 years ago that was $5K more than the 2 but much more sparsely equipped.
As just about every road tester and owner has said, more horsepower would be nice. Just a 10-15 bump of both horsepower and torque would make a big difference and nudge the 2 close to hot-hatch territory, given its light weight and nimble handling.
As many have noted, the clutch action is a little odd and lacks feel for the engagement point. It's just a matter of getting used to it, not a big problem, but it could be better.
Road noise can be a little loud, but that's the price of light weight with fewer sound deadening materials.
More covered storage would be nice--for example, an arm rest console with storage space inside.
It would be nice if the rear seat back folded flat.