2011 Mazda 2 Touring: Power and Weight
November 11, 2010
Weighing in at only 2,274 pounds, our Mazda Dos is easily the lightest car in our test lot. I like lightweight cars and that's definitely a good start. But its tiny 1.5-liter engine only manages to produce 100 horsepower. I'm pretty sure my food processor makes more. This weight-to-power ratio certainly isn't favorable, especially when you consider that our long-term 2004 Prius weighs 2,966 lbs and produces 143 hp. Each horsepower in the Mazda has to lug 22.7 pounds while the Prius only has to pull 20.7.
Mazda positions itself as a more exciting alternative to other brands, and despite the unimpressive figures above, the Mazda 2 manages to qualify as a fun driver, but just barely.
Off the line, il due is pretty anemic. Traction control shuts down the party quicker than a police cruiser in your driveway. With it disengaged, it allows for a little bit of wheelspin, but the engine lacks any real power low in the revs. There's a little more power around 4,000 revs, but it's nowhere close to exciting.
So where's the fun? Handling. In the absence of power, the light weight pays off in the corners. Combined with a short wheelbase, it's considerably tossable. There's a decent amount of body roll and the tires probably won't react well to being driven at ten-tenths, but up to that point, it's enough to induce a giggle or two.
On a winding canyon road, le deux is a pleasant little teaching aid. The lack of power forces you to maintain as much momentum as possible, improving your ability to tie one turn to the next in a beautiful sinuous ribbon.
So yes, the Mazda 2 has enough double zoom to qualify as fun. Fun enough to be a zippy "reasonably priced car," I say.
What say y'all?
Mark Takahashi, Associate Editor