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2011 Mazda MAZDA2 First Impressions Review

Wednesday April 20th, 2011 at 1:44 PM
Posted by: D.Colman

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By contributing editor David Colman

Hits:

  • Great value
  • Exemplifies the virtue of simplified engineering
  • Spacious and comfortable

Misses:

  • Tinny doors
  • Correct gear selection crucial to acceleration

There isn’t a superbike worthy of the name that doesn’t have more horsepower than this Mazda 2. And most of those motorcycles cost as much or more than this $16,185 car. But what can you really do with a superbike besides wheelies and stoppies that scare you silly? This Mazda, on the other hand, will suffice perfectly well as your one and only family car. That’s right, for less than the price of a stellar motorcycle, you can acquire this do-everything sedan. Granted, its 100hp won’t scintillate your adrenal gland, but thanks to the Mazda 2’s light curb weight (just 2,306 lb.), the output of the 1.5 liter, 16 valve four banger is perfectly adequate in city and freeway traffic. Provided you choose the 5-speed manual transmission and not the 4-speed automatic that is optionally available. With just 98 lb.-ft. of torque, you can’t afford to lose that crucial 5th cog that the automatic lacks.

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The Mazda 2 is a surprisingly mature product. Based on the new Ford Fiesta platform, the Mazda 2 takes a simpler approach than the Fiesta to getting the job done. There’s none of the Fiesta’s dash flash, none of the Ford’s Microsoft Sync energy. Rather, the Mazda is simplicity personified. Its seats are neatly done in black cloth trimmed with red piping. The instrument cluster features a small analog tachometer on the left, large central analog speedometer, and digital multi-gauge on the right with a bar graph for fuel level. This informational display is by no means lavish, by no means Spartan – just perfectly adequate. Likewise, the controls on the tilting leather steering wheel get the job done perfectly well, with infotainment buttons on the left spoke and cruise controls on the right spoke. The cruise control operates with such precision and efficiency that it exceeds 99 percent of the units affixed to much more expensive cars. Long freeway trips will convince you that the Mazda 2 need not be relegated to city driving chores. The tall ratio of top gear produces just 3,000rpm at 65mph. That gearing makes the Mazda 2 live up to its “Touring” designation as a long-legged cruiser, quiet and sedate at freeway speed.

You will, however, need to pay strict attention to your chosen gear when speeding up to join the flow of traffic. There is, for example, no discernible thrust when you floor this Mazda in 5th gear at 65 mph. To accelerate, you’ll have to downshift once or twice, but the high-mounted shift lever and the precision of the gear linkage makes this undertaking easy and appealing. There’s really no hot air inflating Mazda’s claim that the “Zoom-Zoom” factor energizes every one of their products. In this case you can tell that the Mazda 2 enjoys the same shift proficiency as the world class champ in the category, the Mazda MX-5 (nee Miata).

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