As one of the newer subcompact models to enter the market, the Mazda 2 four-door hatchback is an effort to capitalize on two intersecting developments. First is the increasing importance of fuel economy to both automakers and car buyers. The second is a new sense of frugality in America, which expresses the idea that it's foolish to drive around in far more car than you actually need.
The Mazda 2 addresses both of these realities head-on and throws in a bit of sportiness for good measure. But the subcompact segment has become very competitive lately, with rivals offering more passenger and cargo space along with the availability of more luxury features and performance. If you're looking for an inexpensive set of wheels that'll get you where you need to go without being a complete snooze to drive, the Mazda 2 is worth a look. But overall, a competing model from Chevrolet, Honda or Kia will likely be a better choice.
Current Mazda 2
The Mazda 2 is a subcompact four-door hatchback powered by a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 100 horsepower and 98 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, while a four-speed automatic is an option.
The Mazda 2 is offered in two trims. The entry-level Sport comes with keyless entry, air-conditioning, full power accessories and a four-speaker CD/MP3 stereo with USB and auxiliary audio jacks. Stepping up to the Touring gets you more goodies that include alloy wheels, foglights, a leather-wrapped wheel, cruise control and a six-speaker stereo. It bears mentioning that many upscale high-tech features available on rival models -- such as a navigation system, iPod interface and Bluetooth -- are not offered on the 2.
From a design perspective, the Mazda 2's cabin is modern but simple, with no elements to fawn over or bemoan. Hard plastics are plentiful, but that is to be expected. The front seats are relatively comfortable and offer enough room for taller adults, though the lack of a telescoping steering wheel is a notable omission. Also disappointing are the rear seats, which are unsupportive and cramped. With those rear seats in place, cargo capacity is 13.3 cubic feet, which is small for a hatchback. With the 60/40-split seats folded (they don't fold completely flat), that figure goes up to 27.8 cubes, a figure that is paltry compared to the class-leading 57.3 cubic feet of the Honda Fit.
In Edmunds testing, we found the Mazda 2's 100-hp four-cylinder engine left the car feeling underpowered, especially when paired with the four-speed automatic transmission. Moreover, this small engine doesn't offer very impressive fuel economy, with EPA estimates of 29 mpg city/35 mpg highway for manual-equipped versions and 28 city/34 highway for automatic models.
However, with the five-speed manual gearbox, the car's precise steering and its well-tuned suspension deliver both nimble handling and decent ride quality, which makes up somewhat for the engine's shortcomings.
Used Mazda 2 Models
The Mazda 2 debuted for 2011. It hasn't changed much since, though the 2011 and '12 cars lacked a USB input for the sound system.
Read the most recent 2014 Mazda MAZDA2 review.