2011 Mazda 2: What I Drove on Vacation
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