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2012 Mazda Mazda2

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2012 Mazda Mazda2 Review

Cheap fun for those who like simple and tossable hatchbacks

Reviewed by Automotive on

Overview
Mazda's popular Mazda2 hatchback is entering its second year of availability here in the U.S. after three years of successful sales in Europe, Australia, and Japan. So far the Mazda2 has proven itself a worthy player in the world's small car segment and looks to continue its popularity here in North America with its impressive usability, comfort, and cute, quirky styling.

Powered by a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine, the Mazda2 only produces a modest 100 horsepower, among the lowest in any new car. That said, the relatively light weight hatchback makes the most of it, and offers good handling ride with some pep and sportiness, especially with the manual transmission. The four-speed automatic transmission could use refining, and another gear.

America's smallest Mazda shares its chassis with the Ford Fiesta, but that's about all they have in common. Driving behavior, powertrain selection, and interior/exterior characters are unique to each. Inside, the cabin feels spacious and sports plenty of contoured shapes for a contemporary and lively passenger area. There are plenty of storage bins and cup holders, too. Plus, the rear seats fold flat to increase cargo capacity. Under the banner "Zoom-Zoom Concentrated," the Mazda2 looks to provide owners with the spirited driving personality its bigger siblings are known for. The EPA estimated 28 mpg city/35 mpg highway rating with a five-speed manual transmission onboard should continue to attract buyers new to the brand looking for a cheap, fuel efficient option.

The Range

Bodystyle: Hatchback
Engine: 1.5-liter, inline-4
Transmissions: five-speed manual, four-speed automatic
Models: Sport, Touring

What's New

In only its second year, Mazda left the vehicle basically unchanged. The automatic transmission is now a little more efficient, and gets 1 mpg more in the city and on the highway. Those looking for something entry level but with extra interior comforts and technology should opt for the Sport model. The Touring edition throws in a few more standard accessories like chrome exhaust tips, fog lights, 15-inch alloy wheels, and a trip computer.

Exterior

Evident in the Mazda2 styling are design cues seen in other models. Perhaps most prominent is the smiling grille, which seems to especially work on the mini hatchback, as it's meant to be a fun, peppy get-about-town car. 15-inch wheels with wheel covers are standard, the Touring trim gets 15-inch alloy wheels. The higher trim also receives chrome exhaust tips, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, enhanced seats with red trimming, and two more speakers to improve the audio. Mazda2's short front and rear overhangs give it a sporty look. Even in "concentrated" form, it maintains the prominent smiling front end.

Interior

The Mazda2 is powered by a 100-horsepower 1.5-liter inline-four cylinder, the car's sole available engine. It's no street light racer, but it makes up for its lack of speediness and pony power with good handling and unexpected sportiness, likely attributable to the car's relatively light weight. Steering is responsive as is braking. We found the manual transmission model fun to drive. The automatic will get you around town in a fuel efficient manner, but missing is the promised "Zoom Zoom concentrated."

Performance & Handling

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Mazda2 its top "Good" rating in frontal crash tests, and "Acceptable" in side-impact testing. Standard on the Mazda2 are driver and passenger front and side airbags, as are side airbag curtains and side impact door beams. There is also a crushable pedal assembly, anti-lock brakes (ABS) and dynamic stability control with traction control.

Safety

Driver and passenger front and side airbags are standard, as are side airbag curtains and side impact door beams. There is also a crushable pedal assembly, anti-lock brakes (ABS) and dynamic stability control with traction control.

EPA Fuel Economy

Manual transmission: 30 mpg city/35 mpg highway
Automatic transmission: 28 mpg city/34 mpg highway

You'll Like

  • Neat style
  • Good fuel mileage
  • Folding rear seats

You Won't Like

  • No available navigation
  • Weak engine

Sum Up

Cheap fun for those who like simple and tossable hatchbacks

If You Like This Vehicle

  • Ford Fiesta
  • Honda Fit
  • Nissan Versa
  • Toyota Yaris

See the New 2014 Mazda2.

Front & Driver Side View
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