The cars we loved.
Now is a great time for anyone looking to buy a new car. Especially an entry level one. Quality and content has risen so fast recently, that entry level cars are no longer the penalty boxes they once were. Take the Mazda2 for instance. If someone told you ten years ago that you could buy an starter car with a pollen filter air conditioning system, they might have laughed at you. But that is exactly what comes standard in every Mazda2. As one of the least expensive new cars you can buy, it also happens to be one of the most fun to drive.
Although it shares a platform with the Ford Fiesta, it lacks that car’s flash and sedan variation. In keeping it simple, the Mazda only comes in two trim levels, Sport and Touring. Starting at around $14k, the sport model represents the more basic end of what’s available in the heated “B-segment”. While competitors from Hyundai and Kia have tried to move their least expensive cars upmarket, with a boat load of options. The top Mazda 3 is separated from the base car mostly by a few choice options like fog lights, 15 inch wheels and a rear spoiler. Both versions use a 100 hp 1.5-liter four cylinder engine. In other markets where the car is known as the Diemo, it might use a 1.3-liter.
The larger engine’s variable valve timing and induction system allow for smooth power delivery and spritely acceleration. Not a lot of power is needed to get a loaded 2300 lb. Mazda2 up to speed. The MacPherson strut front and torsion beam rear suspension is tuned for performance, but not at the expense of ride quality. A similar setup in the Fiesta offers a slightly plusher ride, but the Mazda offers more feedback. The short wheelbase might contribute to some twitchiness, but the second smallest Mazda maintains its composure well on most road surfaces. It would not be too much of a stretch with the right aftermarket tires to consider the Mazda2 a four door Miata. It’s almost that fun to drive judging from the automotive medias consensus.
The only real drawback to the Mazda2 might be its fuel economy. At only 35 mpg, its highway EPA rating has been eclipsed by many mid-sized sedans. Another way that the Mazda is beginning to show its age is in its general appearance. Mazda interiors have progressed considerably the point of making the 2 look last generation. The overall appearance of the Mazda2 has changed very little since 2007. The almost smiley face front end gave way to a more squared off appearance, but otherwise all Mazda2s from 2007 to 2010 look almost identical.
While many small cars have touchscreen screens and connectivity features, the Mazda2 has no such options fancy options. The best you could do is to opt for the Touring model’s steering wheel audio controls. Oddly, the young demographic most likely to buy the Mazda2 on price alone would be the very people wanting such systems. The most expensive option just happens to be a remote garage door opener.
Speaking of last generation, the overall look was inspired by the 2 door 2005 SASSOU concept car. While not quite Pichu cute, it’s attractive and was spared the smiley face front end of some recent Mazdas. Since that time Mazda has adopted a new design philosophy that will eventually catch up with the next generation Mazda2. For now, it’s nice to see than Mazda has maintained a refreshingly simple package that is well executed inside and out. Even as it awaits updating, the Mazda2 is a compelling choice for anyone wanting a competent first or second car.