2011 Mazda2: Cool car, tough competition

17 Nov 2010 | 1,932 views | No Comment
By Don Hammonds For the record, we really like the Mazda2. If you like lively, sporty driving and prefer your ride to be glitz-free--just the basics please--you'll love the Mazda2. The driving experience isw blessedly pure, with no complicated accessories, unnecessary gadgets to distract you, and it really puts a smile on your face as you corner and hit the tight curves. Still, we wonder. Mazda2 is coming in the midst of a near-revolution in the compact car field. Rather than driving small cars that have little more than the basics, American consumers are going after cars with flashy styling,  striking two toned interiors, lots of accessories, and plenty of perseonalizatin options like what you see on the Mini Cooper. Can Mazda2 hold its own against the likes of Ford's Fiesta, with which it shares a platform, the robust, muscular Chevy Aveo that will soon be introduced, and a ton of other small cars that are likely to share the spotlight. By comparison, Mazda2 has a rather plain interior, with nothing that really catches the eye, even in its upgraded version, and the cramped back seat and limited cargo space compared to rides like Honda's Fit, may make the going tough for Mazda2 in the marketplace. The Sport's standard equipment list includes 15-inch steel wheels with wheel covers, air-conditioning, full power accessories, a tilt steering wheel and a four-speaker CD/MP3 audio system with an auxiliary input jack. Springing for the uplevel Touring model offers you 15-inch alloy wheels, foglights, a rear roof spoiler, chrome exhaust tips, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, a trip computer, cruise control, upgraded cloth seats with red piping, and two additional speakers for the audio system. We think Mazda's got an excellent little car in the "2," but they will need to do some work on the interior to make it more appealing and increase its "must have" factor. And the op0tions and appearance list is pretty short and will need some beefing up in this age of personalizaation.    On the other hand, you can argue that Mazda is sticking to its sporty guns with the Mazda2, eschewing fanciness and extra stuff in favor of a good, basic road runner that can offer some fun behind the wheel-- which it does in spades. If that's the case, Mazda knows its customers--folks with a strong sporting bent-- better than we do--and will do just fine in the showroom.        We did like the exterior a lot, too, with the flowing character lines that have become a Mazda trademark in recent years.  The "2" does its own thing in the styling arena and does it quite well, thank you very much. The Mazda2 has two price levels--the Sport model which sells for a base price of $14,180.  The Mazda2 Touring starts at $15,635.  Power comes from a 1.5 liter, four cylinder engine producing 100 horsepower, backed by either a five speed manual or a four speed automatic. Fuel economy is 29/35 wityh a manual and 27/33 wdith the automatic. It's got all the safety equipment you would want including side air curtains and side impact air bags, and comfort and convenience features that are either optional or standard include, remote keyless entry, remote releases  for the hood and fuel door, steering wheel mnounted audio controls, leather steering wheel, 60/40 split second row seats that also fold down, and lots more. Consumers responding to an Edmunds.com chat room loved Mazda2's handling, performance, fuel economy and styling, but like us, they wanted a bit nicer interior, and please--some armrests for front seat passenger and driver.  They also wanted more cupholders and a few more colors from which to choose.

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