The 2011 Ford Fiesta interior wowed 2009 Los Angeles Auto Show attendees, but the 2011 Mazda2, the corporate cousin of the Fiesta, couldn't be compared--Mazda hadn't finished it yet. Today Mazda let loose the final product, and though it looks to be a nice environment for a fun-to-drive and inexpensive hatch, it doesn't pack the same punch as the Fiesta's.
Where the Fiesta offers sculpted, angular surfaces and a two-tone treatment, the Mazda2's more two-dimensional look and monotone color theme comes off more subdued and mundane. The lack of matte-metallic trim, the shape of the center stack, the definition of the instrument panel surround--all are markedly less interesting than the Ford product. Ford says the design is inspired in part by mobile phone interfaces, and it's easy to see that they've pulled it off. Mazda's interior, in contrast, looks more traditional in layout and interface--a fact that may hold the little hatch back in the small-car market, which is aimed largely at younger buyers.
While it's hard to tell from photos alone, the materials in the Fiesta's interior also look to be more tactilely pleasing as well, with soft-touch accents and a premium look. The Mazda2's interior, while modern, is decidedly econo-car in materials choices.
Controls are laid out plainly and cleanly in the Mazda2, but without the style and dynamic design of the Fiesta. The steering wheel looks similar to the one found in the Mazda MX-5, and while it's clean and simple, it lacks the ergonomic shape found on the Fiesta's. The horizontal audio controls and basic dials look straight out of the family parts bin--which means they'll be sturdy and serviceable, but again, the flair of the Fiesta is missing. The door panels in the Mazda2 are largely flat, bland surfaces, where the Fiesta's offer contrasting colors, sculpted speaker surrounds and chunky, attractive grab handles.
2011 Ford Fiesta
Looking at the seats, again there's a monotone treatment with contrasting seams that falls short of the Ford's, but materials and shape look to be about on par.
It's important to keep in mind that the Mazda2 is expected to start out below the $15,000 mark, meaning there's not a lot of room to play with design and materials. But the Fiesta is targeting the same price range, and delivers a much more engaging look. Ford and Mazda will no doubt claim the cars are intended to reach different customers, but anyone shopping for the Mazda2 would be remiss to skip the Fiesta as an alternative.