Launched internationally in 2007, the subcompact Mazda2 arrives stateside for 2011 as Mazda's entry-level offering. It's only available as a hatchback and is slotted below the Mazda3. However, the Mazda2 has more standard features than its larger sibling. The Honda Fit looks to be a major Mazda2 competitor, as do a host of other small cars, from the Ford Fiesta and Chevy Aveo to the Nissan Versa and Toyota Yaris. The Mazda2 comes in Sport and Touring trim levels. Both employ a 100-horsepower, 1.5-liter four-cylinder. Manual and automatic transmissions are available.
Thanks to an arcing black garnish atop the air dam, the Mazda2 carries the smiling expression Mazda has recently affixed to most of its cars. The lower air dam dominates the Mazda2's nose; a thin grille with Mazda's logo sits above it. Sport trims come with body-colored door handles and side mirrors — a rare standard feature in this class. Touring trims add fog lights, 15-inch alloy wheels and a roof-mounted rear spoiler. Around 155 inches long, the Mazda2 is a bit longer than the tiny Yaris hatchback, but significantly shorter than most others. Its 32.2-foot turning radius beats all but the Yaris.
The cabin seats five, with textured fabric upholstery in Sport models and upgraded fabric with red piping in the Touring. The stereo display sits within a circular cutout, a cue shared with the Mazda RX-8 sports car. Models with an automatic transmission have a traditional gearshift — not the gated shifter with a manual mode that most other Mazdas employ. The rear seats fold down in a 60/40 split, allowing 27.8 cubic feet of maximum cargo volume. With the seats up, volume drops to 13.3 cubic feet. Those figures beat the Yaris but fall well short of the larger Fit and Versa. A long list of standard features includes power windows and locks, air conditioning, remote keyless entry, a four-speaker CD stereo and a height-adjustable driver's seat. Touring models add a trip computer, a six-speaker stereo and leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio and cruise controls. Although both stereos include an MP3 jack, a USB port for full iPod compatibility isn't among the factory options. A telescoping steering wheel is also unavailable.
Under the Hood
A 1.5-liter four-cylinder makes 100 horsepower and 98 pounds-feet of torque. Transmission choices include a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission.
Standard safety features include six airbags, antilock brakes, traction control and an electronic stability system.