I had been looking at the Mazda2 well before it arrived in the states. Shortly after it arrived, the Chevy Sonic and Kia Rio5 also arrived. After checking out all three vehicles, the Mazda2 blew the competition out of the water. It may not have the biggest engine or most features, but it is most definitely the most fun to drive. While many reviews I read commented on the Mazda2's lack of power, I find it to be more than adequate. I love the driving experience provided by Mazda and am especially pleased to be averaging 30mpg (compared to the 20mpg I got in my old vehicle) and not having to spend nearly as much on gas. It really is a great little car that is definitely worth checking out.
I got to drive one of these recently and it made me think about this car over the one I actually bought. Being on a tight budget I bought a 2012 Ford Focus, but I never thought about looking at the Mazda 2. I have driven Toyota's Yaris 4-door and it had a noisy ride and a hard feel on the road. The Mazda 2 had a quiet, solid feel inside with lots of space for a six-foot tall driver. The doors closed with a solid thunk. The Mazda 2 was smooth and fast. The Edmunds review here says that the automatic transmission was not adequate. I thought it was. I hit the pedal hard to get it into passing gear and this car was fast. 100hp was very adequate in my opinion. Smooth and fast acceleration.
I owned a Porsche Boxster and have driven many high end sports cars including the Acura NSX. None of them are as fun as the Mazda 2 5SPD Manual. I bought the car used with low mileage and I use it daily and in autocross. It is a great little race car for autocross events. It makes driving fun. The engine is peppy and feels strong and the car is surprisingly quiet and smooth. With my spirited mixed city/highway driving, I average 29.5 mpg.
The small car segment in America is finally getting competitive, and Mazda does a great job of building a car that is comfortable, efficient, good looking, and (true to the Mazda heritage) fun to drive. I test drove the automatic, and while it is very good as far as four-speeds go, it is still a four speed, so I can only recommend the manual. While on paper the car may seem to weak, get behind the wheel (of the manual) and you'll experience a go-cart like driving sensation that can only be defined as pure bliss. The car is very efficient, and the engaging drive keeps giving me reasons to head out to the store or just to hit the road. Do yourself a favor, buy this car. You won't regret it.
Bought this car new and have put on 2000 miles so far. Got the Sport because I couldn't find any Touring models with manuals in my area. Excellent handling, I really feel like I can toss this car around. The shifter is very smooth and quick. At first I was worried about the 100hp but while it won't knock you back in your seat during acceleration it is more than adequate(previous car was a 9-3 Saab). Personally I like the simpleness of the car, the dash is basic and for an economy car it's what it should be. I've been averaging 33 mpg with most of my driving at 70 mph on the highway. Basically it is what most of the reviews say, a fun to drive economy car.