Subcompact Shootout – 2011 Mazda 2, Ford Fiesta and Honda CR-Z Review

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Mazda MAZDA2

2011 Mazda 2


  • Featherweight
  • As fun to drive as a go kart
  • Fuel efficient and practical


  • Choppy ride
  • Spartan interior
  • Freeway harshness

Ruling: The modern day CRX, except with five doors.

For those who are looking for one of the most fuel efficient and practical subcompacts available, but don’t want to sacrifice the thrill and enjoyment of driving, look no further than the MAZDA2. Of the three subcompacts, and all subcompacts on the market for that matter, no other car delivers as much fun per dollar than this little five-door hatchback. Mazda’s strategy with the 2 was quite simple – shave every unnecessary pound off the car in the quest for fuel efficiency and handling prowess. And as Mazda always does, their mantra of “Zoom-Zoom” comes through in even their smallest, most compact machine.

2011 Mazda 2

The MAZDA2 is the modern day CRX, but it has what the CRX of yore lacks – five doors and a functional rear seat. And at only 150 pounds heavier than the CRX Si, the MAZDA2 is a remarkable achievement in shedding weight. It also allows Mazda to use a smaller, more fuel-efficient 1.5L 4-cylinder that ekes out 100 horsepower and 98 lb. ft. of torque. Now those numbers might seem paltry, but when you’re moving little more than a ton of weight, it equates to respectable 0-60 time of just under 9 seconds – the fastest of the trio. And fuel efficiency-wise, the 2′s numbers are respectable, turning 28 city/35 highway with the 5-speed manual and 28/34 with a four speed automatic. Perhaps the numbers would be even higher if Mazda were to include an extra gear or two in both transaxles.

2011 Mazda 2 interior

In the corners, the MAZDA2 is everything that the CRX was; surefooted and eager for any winding stretch of asphalt. The car is simply a blast to drive. However, its light weight does come at a penalty of choppiness over bumps and a rather loud and harsh freeway ride. Hey, you can’t have it all.

2011 Mazda 2 interior

The interior of the MAZDA2 is spartan as you would expect for a base MSRP of $14,750, but like all Mazdas, the build quality and grade of plastics is very high, sharing many of the same pieces with its bigger brother MAZDA3  and the MX-5 Miata. And for an as-tested price of $16,185, our MAZDA2 Touring had a healthy list of features not limited to power door locks and windows, keyless entry, leather tilt steering wheel, cruise and six-speaker audio. Even the base, bare-bones Mazda2 comes with air conditioning.

It’s blatantly clear who the MAZDA2 is made for; someone who wants practicality, efficiency and affordability without sacrificing the sporting feel of an iconic machine like the original CRX. If you’re the type who likes to take the back way to work, this is your ride.


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  • Peter Anastopulos says:

    The CRZ is hideous compared to the original CRX and what is the only reference is the dark cabin.What made the CRX such a great car for the new wave youth was that it was not your parents car in any way.This dingy dark CRZ is only going attract color blind commuter drivers and there are better options.What is wrong with the Honda there missteps are killing them.From that awful Accord,to the useless Ridgeline,to the ancient Civic and thank god the recently expired Element.What has happened to the brave little company that gave us cars we needed rather then wanted.They offer nothing I would own and seem to appeal to only senior citizens .Gone is the high quality .Have you seen an Elements foldaway rear seats in pieces ?.

  • Peter Anastopulos says:

    I drove the Fiesta at the off the Ford Road Show truck in San Mateo.I have also driven one at Towne Ford and really are surprised you say the car is lethargic .To me it great right off line and got up to speed quickly.In wet conditions it functioned perfectly unlikely the CRX.Remember as much as I loved my CRX it had terrible traction control and one of the front wheels would lead.Time maybe fogged those memory’s but this is a much better car and the price difference between the Mazda2 and Festiva would still put me in the Ford camp because you get a lot.This a great car and I think you had bad gas or something our experiences could not be further apart.It makes me anticipate the Focus even more.

  • Peter Anastopulos says:

    I owned a 1988 CRX Si in silver with black interior and loved that car.It stayed modern for so long and eventually gave way to a Volvo V70 R wagon.I still miss that CRX and have always been a hot Hot hatchback fan .I have owned an Renault R5 in double black and a Rabbit GTI.It was cool in the 80′s as was my Mohawk and Doc Martins.Everything comes back around and now in my 50′s they are cool again.Could not come soon enough since I have refused to ever buy an SUV and my options were shrinking for something new vehicle.Today the options are growing what I will end up with if it comes out soon is a 2012 Focus RS if that happens but this Mazda 2 could be my back up plan.

  • francois says:

    Insightful comparison! I love the CRX si references since I was an owner. That car was killed and replaced by the Del Sol. Those were the dark days of Honda as they demonstrated complete lack of soul and vision.

    They’ve come back though with better driving cars and the introduction of the Fit and the Element.

    All these cars are worthy! It is a good day in the auto industry as they produce low cost cars with soul and vision.

    If only I wasn’t so old with a full household.

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