2011 Mazda 2 Touring: Everyone Should Own One
January 13, 2011
Well, everyone who lives within 50 miles of a major metro area, anyway. If pod cars are our inevitable future, I won't mind this one.
Each time I drive it, the Deuce reminds me of the '02-'05 Civic Si. The EP3 might be the least desirable Si, what with its 2.0-liter neutered at the altar of fuel economy and front struts replacing beloved wishbones. But I always felt it got a bad rap. It's got good reflexes, quick throttle response, tight ratios and easy throws. A car that can bob and weave through heavy traffic, and - once you've got it slightly on boil - can sprint effortlessly to 90 MPH.
The Mazda 2 exhibits a similar character. It generates less power than the EP3, but also weighs 400 lbs. less. Its wheelbase is also a few inches shorter. And once you're up around 3,000 rpm and drop it into fourth, it can dart just about anywhere you point.
Even its shifter placement (top) recalls the seventh-gen Si (below). The Mazda 2's nimble enthusiasm makes joining the rat race for another day not only tolerable, but enjoyable.
Not sure it could be my everyday car, though. The clutch is spongey hooking up to first gear. The engine sounds kinda bratty at highway speeds. It could use a sixth gear. But as a car to drive a few days a week, to and from the office, to the market, to snag a parking spot in front of the lunch counter, the Deuce makes a strong case for itself.
One of our colleagues who has driven the new Ford Fiesta, built on the same platform as the M2, says the Mazda's handling gives it the edge. The beauty is that buyers now have two great choices.
Dan Frio, Automotive Editor