With thorough upgrades inside and out, the 2016 Mazda 2 will deliver sharp style, competitive features and a spirited driving character.
Attractive new styling; revamped engine, transmission and chassis promise better performance and fuel economy; enhanced features and infotainment.
Any real performance gains will come from lighter weight and the new transmission, as its new engine probably won't make much more power than the outgoing engine.
The 2016 Mazda 2 will be fully redesigned.
Like most Mazda cars and crossovers, the diminutive Mazda 2 was designed to deliver signature sporty handling and a fun-to-drive character. It's a standout among subcompacts for its reflexes and an ability to produce driver smiles, but not without flaws revealed by newer competitors. The 2016 Mazda 2 marks the model's second generation and looks to amend its deficiencies with a styling overhaul, a new chassis and engine, and new technology.
Complementing the Mazda 2's curvier lines and larger grille -- design elements incorporated from the Mazda 3, Mazda 6 and CX-5 models -- is a re-engineered chassis. The 2 will be the latest model to benefit from Mazda's "Skyactiv" engineering philosophy of lightweight construction and fuel-efficient technologies. The new Mazda 2 should sit atop a longer wheelbase, with overall body length increasing by perhaps 6 inches or more. It will also be slightly taller.
The current Mazda 2 may be the best-handling car in its class, but it's not particularly powerful, fast or fuel-efficient. The standard 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine generates just 100 horsepower and 98 pound-feet of torque, well short of competitors like the Ford Fiesta or Honda Fit. Meager power output can sometimes mean better mpg, but Mazda 2 models equipped with automatic transmissions trail competitors in combined fuel economy (manual transmission models more closely match rivals, but again with less power).
Mazda hasn't announced a U.S. engine lineup yet, but the Mazda 2 will offer some combination of the three engines offered in Europe and Japan: a 1.3-liter four-cylinder, a 1.5-liter four-cylinder and a 1.5-liter diesel four-cylinder.
The smaller engine isn't likely for American buyers, nor is the diesel, making a new Skyactiv 1.5-liter the obvious replacement for the current engine. Whether the new four-cylinder makes more power remains to be seen, but that power should at least be more accessible with either a six-speed manual or automatic transmission.
These alone will be worthy upgrades over the current five-speed manual and four-speed automatic units. Factor in a slightly lighter chassis and the new Mazda 2 should improve on its current 0-60 times of 9.9 seconds (manual transmission) and 10.7 seconds (automatic).
The 2016 Mazda 2 should also make impressive leaps inside the cabin, starting with a new infotainment system controlled by a dial-button array in the center console and a dash-mounted color display. Smartphone integration and navigation will also be available through the Mazda Connect suite of apps and connected services.
A longer wheelbase and increased overall length may also give the Mazda 2 more luggage space. Its current 13.3 cubic feet is average for the segment.
The 2016 Mazda 2's promise of enhanced style, performance and technology make a compelling argument for waiting until it goes on sale in mid-2015, however. Check back for a full review of the new Mazda 2, including specs, driving impressions and buying advice as it becomes available.