Forget the fact that the 2011 Mazda 2 has yet to run head-to-head with any of its competitors, and that Mazda isnt even listing all of its stats online yet, and even forget that there is still snow on my front lawn while I am predicting victory for a car that will not be sold until the sun comes out and rescues us from this seemingly endless wintry hell (Summer 2010). Forget all of this, because the only number you need to remember is 2271. That is the number of pounds that the 2011 1.5 liter Mazda 2 will weigh when it is finally offered to the general public, according to Mazda's "Zoom-Zoom" magazine. According to that same source, the new 2 is going to be roughly 220 pounds lighter than the outgoing model, which won the 2008 World Car of the Year award. If these numbers pan out, Ford, Honda, Toyota, Hyundai, and the rest have something to worry about, because it undercuts all of them by anywhere from 40 pounds for the unimaginably bland Yaris, to roughly 200 pounds for the Honda Fit and Ford Fiesta.
O.K., so destroys may be a wee bit strong, but because the best thing the cars in this class have going for them is their low weight and go-kart-wannabe handling, the 2 seems like it will have a very important advantage. It wont hurt that Mazda is already pretty darn good at putting handling first anyway (See: Mazda 3, Mazda RX-8, Mazda MX-5). Im not sure it will be able to pry Honda out of the top spot in the interior quality category (although their most recent interior update makes me think they havent given that up yet), and the Fiesta's 1.6 will probably pack a stronger punch, but when it comes to handling and just being an all-around fun to drive car, the 2 should be right up there at the top of the list.
Realistically speaking, only time will tell how things will fall together once this new batch of econo-hatches finally hits the streets in full force, but of two things we can be certain.
1. This year is shaping up to be an excellent time to be in the market for an affordable, fun, economical, practical, and reliable form of transportation.
2. The Mazda 2 is going to be a contender.