The EPA fuel-economy ratings for the 2014 Mazda 2 aren't anything to get excited by, but our experience suggests that drivers will be able to do better than the ratings in real-world driving.
Part of the credit goes to the little car's light construction. It won awards for being a few hundred pounds lighter than the car it replaced, and its total weight is only 2,300 pounds after Mazda engineers embarked on a so-called "gram strategy" to shave even fractions of an ounce from every component whenever and wherever possible. The result is a four-passenger, five-door car that's actually lighter than the MX-5 Miata roadster.
The more desirable Mazda 2 with the five-speed manual gearbox is rated at 32 mpg combined (27 mpg city, 34 mpg highway), perhaps reflecting its lack of a higher sixth gear that would improve highway cruising efficiency. If you opt for the four-speed automatic transmission, the ratings fall to 30 mpg combined (28 mpg city, 34 mpg highway).
Those ratings are no better than the brand-new, larger, and more efficient Mazda 3 compact model, but our road tests returned numbers closer to 35 mpg--even after energetic driving. And that new car's considerably more aerodynamic lines, not to mention its ultra-efficient SkyActiv powertrain, will give the Mazda 3 an additional benefit over the smaller Mazda 2 in highway driving, where wind resistance is a major factor in fuel consumption.