November 08, 2011
Once a week I handle school pick-up duty in the evening, bringing home my eldest daughter and two of her friends after their after-school art program lets out. Every time I'm driving something different, of course, so they never know what car to keep an eye out for. It gets really interesting if their cell phones are dead (or mine) and I can't clue them in ahead of time.
Last night it was the 2011 Mazda 2, a car I signed out before I remembered that I was the night's assigned car pool captain. We're talking high school kids, so they're not exactly small of stature, and they come armed with enormous backpacks.
No problemo. Thie Mazda 2 has a real backseat. Six-foot-two me had only to slide his seat up a notch. I'm used to that.
I should probably bring them home in cars of this type more often, so as to not raise their expectations overmuch for the type of car they'll most likely be driving once they get their driver's license. My daughter is already studying for her learner's permit. *gulp*
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 16, 216 miles
October 24, 2011
You haven't gotten an update on our long-term 2011 Mazda 2 in exactly a week, and the reason is that I took it on vacation. Unfortunately, we didn't get as far as Montana, because this was one of those economical vacations during which I stayed home and took stock of my disheveled apartment. It turns out if you're always driving somewhere else, your own somewhere gets pretty disorganized.
I felt a little bad using the Mazda 2 for this boring chapter of my life (especially with its time in the fleet growing short), but I drove it every day and it invariably brought a moment or two of joy. I've already told you pretty much everything I think about this car.
The steering feels quick and precise, and has real feedback. The engine doesn't have much low-end grunt, but there's power you can use further up, and the 1.5-liter is pretty smooth and sounds good when you rev it. The clutch takeup is a touch funky, but the shifter slots solidly into each gate. The car likes to change direction, but there's still enough compliance in the suspension so that it doesn't beat you up over rough pavement.
After spending a week with the Mazda, I'm thinking the same thoughts, but I'm also impressed by how well everything works together on this car. Often in this price range, cars will drive like they have a little of this and a little of that (which isn't necessarily bad), but they don't feel like one thing. The Mazda 2 feels like one thing -- everything on it (at least on the five-speed manual version) feels like it's tuned with an eye toward making the car handle, ride, accelerate as well as it can with the components it has been allotted. Oh, and it brakes well, too. Very good pedal feel and surefooted stops, even with its modest Yokohama Avid tires.
You can really appreciate this unified package when you're running around a city like L.A., which has a mix of hard-core city stuff and tight parking lots, plus lots and lots of freeways. In this environment, it isn't critical that the Mazda 2 be fun to steer or shift, but it sure brought cheer to my days. On Sunday, I saw another woman driving a Mazda 2, a black one with a Yak rack. When I noticed it was a manual to boot, it made me really happy.
This week I'll be driving the Mazda 2 on a shorty road trip to Carlsbad (with a possible midweek Mt. Palomar detour if I can squeeze it in) and taking care of the 15,000-mile service -- I have an appointment for Thursday.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 15,470 miles
October 10, 2011
Call me crazy, but I think hatchbacks look cooler and are more useful than their sedan brethren. I know there's no such thing as a Mazda2 Sedan, but you have to admit the Mazda3 is a more coherent design as a hatch and the new Chevrolet Sonic hatchback looks cooler than the sedan. Same goes for the Ford Fiesta. Don't you think? So why has it been (with the exception of Nissan Versa which sells at a rate of 3 hatches to 2 sedans) with U.S. car buyers that we shun hatches?
Chief Road Test Editor, Chris Walton @ 14,796 miles
September 21, 2011
It feels like forever since I last got behind the wheel of our 2011 Mazda 2 Touring. I forgot how much I liked it! All this time our long-term Fiat 500 was my favorite little car in our fleet but after driving our 2 I almost prefer the Mazda.
And yes, car buyers normally wouldn't cross-shop these two: the Fiat's Euro cuteness puts it up against the Mini while the 2 competes with the equally practical Honda Fit. But those interested in the Fiat would be doing themselves a disservice by not test-driving the Mazda 2 first. It, like the Fiat, is a great urban runabout, small enough for parking in the city, fun to drive and I think it looks pretty cute, especially in that Spirited Green Metallic.
Plus after driving the Fiat all this time I can really feel the difference between it and the 2. The 2's shifter feels much more solid and sure and its engine sounds smoother and not as truckish compared to the 500.
And if I had to pick between the 2 and the 500 for a weekend car, I'd go with the Mazda. Not only is it more practical with more cargo room to facilitate errand running but my dog Mya fits comfortably in the backseat. Again, I realize that the 2 and the 500 wouldn't normally be cross-shopped especially talking 4-door versus coupe but just in terms of having to pick between our two current long-termers, I'm making the comparison.
More on how the 2 does as a doggy hauler after the jump.
It was really easy for Mya to jump in and out of the back. And I like how the rear seatbelt fasteners protrude from the bottom seat cushion, making it easier to belt her in via her harness even with her doggy blanket spread out.
Since the 2 is pretty basic, it doesn't have any schmancy rear climate controls or vents but I just direct the vents in the center dash toward the back so that Mya can get some air.
Just as a reminder, here's Mya with the Fiat. There, she can spread out in the backseat, too, and the seatbelt fasteners also protrude for easy fastening. She doesn't get as much of a view out the backseat in the coupe as she does in the 2, though, and thanks to the gray cloth, I fear that it would be harder to clean off than the 2's dark cloth.
August 23, 2011
Remember how the cargo cover broke in 2010 VW GTI, because the upper attachment point was just a dinky plastic peg molded onto the hatch's interior plastic trim? Well, that's never going to happen to our 2011 Mazda 2.
August 11, 2011
I know, the Mazda 2 isn't a great vehicle for hauling stuff. Still, I figured the wheel from my motorcycle was small enough to fit in just about anything. And sure enough, it is, but not by much. It was a good reminder just how shallow the cargo bay in the Mazda 2 can be when you're trying to fit stuff back there.
Of course, I could have just dropped the rear seats if I needed even more room, but I didn't want to get grease on the seatbacks. I also like the idea of the wheel being firmly secured in the cargo bay. Can't imagine what would happen if I had a panic stop with it sitting on the folded back seats.
Ed Hellwig, Editor, Edmunds.com
July 05, 2011
The Mazda 2 isn't the least bit fancy. In fact, dressed in refrigerator white like our test car, it's about as homely looking as a new car gets, at least on the outside.
Mazda's designers might not have done much with the exterior, but they added a little bit of flair to the interior where they could. Most hatchbacks in this class are saddled with plain old grey cloth from top to bottom. The Mazda 2 mixes it up with contrasting fabrics and red piping, at least on the Touring model. The base model doesn't get the red piping, but at least it has contrasting fabrics.
None of this is groundbreaking stuff, but when it comes to $16K cars, it's an indication that the designers are at least trying to make a go of it.
Ed Hellwig, Editor, Edmunds.com
May 16, 2011
Recently in the comment logs, I noticed someone wondering if we'd forget about the 2011 Mazda 2 (accidentally, of course) now that we have a cool Italian subcompact hatchback in the fleet. So after a night in the Fiat 500, I spent the next 24 hours with the Mazda 2 to see if my feelings for the latter have changed due to the former.
They have. But for the better.
I'll start off by acknowledging that this hardly qualifies as any kind of official, complete or apples-to-apples comparison. The Fiat 500 is one size down from the Mazda 2. Under the Fiat umbrella, the Fiat Grande Punto and Alfa MiTo are more appropriate competition for the 2, but neither is sold in the U.S. (though I rented a diesel MiTo once -- it was cool).
So, whatever. Back to the Mazda 2. For me, at least, the Mazda has a far better driving position. Neither of these cars has a telescoping steering wheel, but in the Mazda, the wheel is an appropriate reach for my arms. In the Fiat, it's half a mile away. In the Mazda, I sit in a nicely shaped seat, and my left foot extends to put the clutch in at a natural angle, and I can easily see over the dash. In the Fiat, I'm perched on a barstool fumbling with the pedals and still feel like I'm looking over a mountain of plastic. In the 2, the clutch has a nice short takeup. In the 500, the clutch engages sky-high in the long pedal stroke.
The Mazda 2 also feels far more like a real car that I'd be willing to drive every day if that's how the chips fell. It's more than an urban runabout. There's more than enough torque to stay ahead of traffic if you're willing to work the gearbox (whereas in the Fiat, I'd call it barely enough). Also, someone spent some time tuning the electric power steering to get it to feel really natural in terms of effort level, and the 2 just feels more planted going around corners.
If anything, having the Fiat around has just made me appreciate the Mazda 2 even more.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 9,070 miles
April 29, 2011
Whenever I get into the 2011 Mazda 2, I half expect to be inconvenienced by its lack of amenities. Oh, it's far better appointed than the car I drove in college, or even economy cars of 10 years ago, but it doesn't have a center armrest or a USB port or... well, ultimately, I never end up caring. Especially during baseball season when I'm listening to AM radio anyway.
I digress, but these slots in the center console one thing that really make the Mazda 2 livable for me. See, I travel with a lot of stuff, not for any good reason, but just because I do, and I always have a place for that stuff (including my cruddy sunglasses case that holds the sunglasses I paid a bit too much for) in the Mazda 2. That's not a given in other economy cars. Add in the slick shifter, lively handling and compliant ride, and well, you can have yourself a fine evening in this car.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 8,985 miles
March 21, 2011
Follow the jump to find out:
Yup, sure does. Course, I didn't say anything about the front-seat passenger still having room to sit, at least not without removing the bicycle's rear wheel.
Still, pretty good that a bike can be squeezed in at all (and quite easily, I might add), considering the diminutive size of the Mazda 2. A mountain bike, with its wider bars, could prove a bit more difficult. But it should still fit.
Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 7,491 miles
March 05, 2011
Not gonna lie to you: There's few things better in life, for car enthusiasts at least, than spending quality time with a car as stonkingly fast and manly-sounding as, say, the Ford Mustang Boss 302. But as much as I cherish driving pumped-up beasts such as that, there's other times when all I need is a car like the Mazda 2.
Just give me a manual transmission (none of that sissy paddle shift stuff), a tachometer (albeit in this case a tiny one), a proper handbrake and some form of an iPod hookup, and this 'ol boy can be pretty dang content.
Sure, it's a tad slower experience. And if given the choice for the weekend, I'll take the 'Stang. But you can have some good low-speed fun in this Mazda 2. It's back-to-basics driving.
Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 6,965 miles
February 21, 2011
Seats Up: Easily swallowed a GiddyUp 'N Go Pony that's 33 inches tall and 30 inches long.
January 07, 2011
Our long-term Mazda 2 and the Ford Fiesta I drove in Toronto share a common platform, though each has a very different driving position. I mentioned this fact in my Fiesta in Canada blog, but what's the difference between the back seats?
November 23, 2010
There it is, a quick peek at the 13.3 cubic feet of cargo capacity offered up by our 2011 Mazda 2.
Fold the 60/40-split second-row seats down and the trunk expands to 28 cubes.
A 2011 Ford Fiesta offers 15.4 cubic feet with the rear seats in place, and maxs out at 26 cubes.
Kelly Toepke, News Editor