Victory by Design - 2011 Mazda 2 Touring Long-Term Road Test

2011 Mazda 2 Long-Term Road Test

2011 Mazda 2 Touring: Victory by Design

December 29, 2010


Expensive cars have trim -- exotic woods, crafted metal, unborn suede. All those costly extras. Cheap cars have only design, because there can be no extras.

I prefer design, and the center stack of the Mazda 2's dash shows you why. It's a masterpiece of art transformed by function.

It just looks great. A fine sense of artistic proportion, a kind of clever symmetry. The CD changer at the top and the radio display in the middle with its array of control buttons at either side. Then the knobs and buttons and lever that operate the ventilation system below. And a little bit of shiny piano black heightens the presentation, so you know that there's art here as well as function.

And yet it is the function in the Mazda 2's center stack that really makes it all work. The rotary knobs for the ventilation system are way better than fussy little buttons. No illusion of temperature control with a digital readout; just turn the knobs until you get what you want. I liked this setup on the Saab 99 EMS and still like it now.

It all works because everything in a cheap car must work. Sure, expensive cars have a certain sense of extravagant style, but cheap cars teach you that real design is found where art meets necessity.

If only the dash of our 2011 BMW 528i looked as good and worked so well.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, @ 4,852 miles

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