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

Expert Reviews Ford Honda hybrid Mazda

Ford Fiesta SES Hatchback

2011 Ford Fiesta


  • Features galore
  • Luxurious ride
  • Most fuel-efficient of the three


  • Handling as lively as a corpse
  • Lethargic acceleration

Ruling: The perfect subcompact for long-term highway duty.

It’s quite amazing that both the MAZDA2 and the Ford Fiesta are based on the exact same platform, because they are polar opposite in the dynamics they deliver the driver. Where the MAZDA2 is zippy, nimble and eager, the Fiesta is lethargic, clumsy and reluctant. However, the Fiesta delivers in areas where the Mazda can’t, namely with the most luxurious freeway ride of all three subcompacts and the highest fuel efficiency.

2011 Ford Fiesta

The Fiesta has been an overwhelming hit in Europe for decades with good reason – it offers a lot of luxury and practicality for the money. Our Lime Squeeze Metallic 5-door SES hatchback was loaded to the gills with every feature available including the Sync voice-activated system, Sirius satellite radio with premium 6-speaker audio, power door locks and windows with keyless entry, power and heated side mirrors and message center with trip computer. All for a shade under $18,000.

2011 Ford Fiesta interior

Not only does the Fiesta deliver a luxurious experience with its available features, but Ford NVH engineers have yet again hit another grand slam. The Fiesta is incredibly quiet and composed on the freeway; light years better than the MAZDA2, but of course, the Fiesta is also 300 pounds heavier. Therefore, it’s 1.6L 120hp four-cylinder struggles to get up and go, with a 10.1 second 0-60 time, the slowest of the trio. Additionally, the Fiesta’s handling characteristics feel like they’ve been numbed to the gills with Novocain. It simply doesn’t attack the back roads like the MAZDA2. It’s not even slightly motivated. The Fiesta would be far happier if you just stuck to the freeway, thank you very much.

2011 Ford Fiesta interior

And on the freeway is where you’ll experience the best fuel efficiency of all three cars, with the Fiesta delivering 40 mpg with the six-speed auto and 38 mpg with the 5-speed manual. It does well in the city too, offering 30 and 29 respectively.

Just like the MAZDA2, it’s obvious who the Fiesta is geared towards; those who need a well-appointed, fuel efficient freeway machine that feels far more luxurious and refined than its $14,000 base MSRP sticker indicates.


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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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