New & Used Mazda 2: In Depth
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The Mazda 2 is a subcompact hatchback that’s the smallest car the brand makes, with a shorter wheelbase than the MX-5 Miata. Aimed at the budget-conscious commuter who needs a basic car -- but one to be enjoyed -- to handle the urban lifestyle, it competes with the Hyundai Accent, Ford Fiesta, Kia Rio, and the Chevrolet Sonic.
First launched as a 2011 model, the Mazda 2 is both the most affordable car from its maker and a less-expensive hatchback. The next car up in the line, the Mazda3 compact, charges more for its five-door hatchback than the entry-level four-door sedan--but the smaller Mazda2 only comes as a hatchback.
For more information on the Mazda 2, including options, prices, gas-mileage ratings, and specifications, see our full review of the 2014 Mazda Mazda2.
The Mazda2's stark interior and simplicity can remind us a bit too much of older, simpler small cars. Some of those attributes include its short wheelbase, which produces fore-and-aft bobbing on choppy highway surfaces, and the many hard-and-hollow trims found inside--more than many alternative vehicles of the same price and size.
In appearance, the Mazda2 follows Mazda's current design direction quite closely, with a simple, neat look overall and a front end that's a more modest iteration of the brand's 'grinning' look. Mechanically, the front-wheel-drive Mazda2 has what sounds like an old-school economy-car powertrain—a 100-hp, 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine, and a five-speed manual gearbox or four-speed automatic. But thanks to great steering and suspension tuning—as well as a light, 2,300-pound curb weight—we've found the Mazda2 to be a lot of fun to drive, especially in the city.
The Mazda2's EPA fuel economy ratings, at 27 mpg city, 34 highway with the automatic or 29/35 with the manual, probably aren't as high as most shoppers for such a frugal commuter as seeking. But in real-world driving experiences, we've however seen numbers at the higher end of that range. With the possible grafting of Mazda's 1.3-liter SkyActiv-G four-cylinder engine in the near future, the model could do even better, though.
In safety, the Mazda Mazda2 has fared reasonably well, although IIHS 'acceptable' ratings for side and rear impact haven't put this model in the top tier. All the features that are now expected, even in small cars—like stability control, anti-lock brakes, and side-curtain airbags—are included however.
The Mazda2 is a little more expensive compared to other subcompacts, and somewhat behind the curve in connectivity and features. At a time when shoppers for low-cost subcompacts are expecting some of the same connectivity features—such as basic hands-free calling—as they have in other cars, the Mazda2 doesn't include them. A USB port was added to both trim levels Mazda2 for 2013, while Bluetooth remained a port-installed (or dealer-installed) option and navigation isn't offered.
Although the Mazda2 hasn't changed much in several years, it's due for a metamorphosis in 2016; that's when an all-new, Mexico-built model that will share its platform with the next-generation Toyota Yaris will bow. With next-generation SkyActiv engines and a slightly larger, much more flamboyant design, the 2016 Mazda 2 looks destined to turn more heads than the now-somewhat-homely current car.