The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

2011 MAZDA2 "Zoom-Zoom Concentrated" - First Drive

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

SEE ALSO Mazda Buyers Guide

by Larry Nutson
Senior Editor
Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

Monterey, CA August 2010 – The traditional role of a small, subcompact car is changing here in the US. Typically a small car has been low-cost, no-frills, basic transportation to get us from point A to Point B. Now, with increased focus on “being green”, significant economic challenges, a social climate change of opulence-out and sensible-in, along with a desire to be more self expressive, the small car B-segment is taking on a new role and is forecasted to double in volume by 2013-2014. Already this year, 47% of new vehicles have 4-cylinder engines, according to J. D. Power & Associates.

The MAZDA2 has been sold in Europe, Asia and Australia since 2007 and was named the 2008 World Car of the Year. Highly acclaimed throughout the world having total global sales of over 400,000 units in the three years since its introduction.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

Now in its third generation, the all-new 2011 MAZDA2 is being introduced in North America first and will bookend Mazda’s product portfolio in this market. Two buyer groups will play the lead role in the doubling of sales in the subcompact segment that I mentioned. This bi-modal age distribution of buyers will be comprised of the Baby-Boomers and Gen-Y…their kids. Why? Baby-boomers are downsizing, becoming empty-nesters and retiring but will still maintain an active lifestyle. Gen-Y is just moving in to their prime purchasing years having graduating college and for the most part living in urban environments. They communicate electronically but still need a car to get out of town on the weekends.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

The 2011 MAZDA2 is stylish, fun-to-drive, affordable and compact. In short, it is sensible…with a healthy dose of Zoom-Zoom. As described by Derek Jenkins, Director of Design,
PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

the basic form of the new MAZDA2 is characterized by a combination of dynamic performance, sportiness and simplicity that leaves a strong visual impression. Many competitors produce subcompact cars with a focus on a boxy body form to prioritize functionality, Mazda shortened the body overhangs and trimmed the corners to the greatest extent possible as a way to provide a form that is compact and sporty, conveys a sense of stability and inspires confidence.

The interior design theme for MAZDA2 is “a space that communicates movement”. The design team made MAZDA2’s cabin strikingly different through contoured forms that combine reassuring thickness with strong visual movement. Both audio controls and climate controls are laid out for easy legibility. Related control buttons are grouped according to function for intuitive ease of use.

To complement the cabin, Mazda’s design team chose to use piano black for the center of the instrument panel and sliver garnish for the steering wheel, shift gate and trim.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

The strong contrast between the combination of black and silver conveys a sharp, sporty and high-quality impression. The seats are structurally slim and are upholstered with textured fabric that has a black keynote color with red piping. This exciting combination hints at the MAZDA2’s sporty ride and nimble handling.

The MAZDA2’s development team targeted Zoom-Zoom driving without any adverse impact on superior fuel economy and collision safety. The key to achieving the target was the team’s dedicated approach to reduce weight. The development team managed to shave ten percent off the weight of the previous generation model. As a result, the MAZDA2 is the lightest vehicle (2,306 lbs/manual transmission model) in its competitive set.

MAZDA2 offers outstanding fuel economy, with five-speed manual transmission models returning 29/35 MPG (city/highway), while models equipped with available four-speed automatics will return 27/33 MPG (city/highway). On our 180 mile drive through the Monterey Peninsula, Skyline Drive and California’s Central Coast, we easily achieved 37 mpg before our uphill climb. On the downhill, return run we toped 40 mpg. Every expert I talk to says the same; gasoline prices will go up. And since we buy a car to keep for many years, now is the time to get a fuel-efficient car. Mazda claims the MAZDA2 to be one of the quietest in the segment and I have to agree. And, while we got great fuel economy, the MAZDA2 is also no slouch and tackled the hills with ease.

All MAZDA2’s include a long and impressive list of safety features, including: Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist, Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) with Traction Control System (TCS), Electric Power Assist (EPAS) steering system, “Triple H” body construction, side-impact door beams, crushable brake and accelerator pedal assembly, advanced dual front air bags, front seat side air bags, side air curtains, engine immobilizer anti-theft system, second row LATCH child safety seat anchors and a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS).

MAZDA2 will also be the first Mazda vehicle launched in North America with Mazda’s Brake Override system. This system always prioritizes the brake pedal over the accelerator pedal, should both be engaged simultaneously, allowing the vehicle to be brought to a safe stop.

The 2011 MAZDA2 is available in two trim levels – the entry-level Sport and top-grade Touring. Both trim levels offer the versatility, features and style consumers in the market for a subcompact want, at a price they can afford. The well-equipped MAZDA2 Sport is powered by a 100 horsepower, 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine and is available with either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

Standard features include 15-inch steel wheels with full wheel covers, 185/55/R15 all-season tires, body-colored door handles and power mirrors, air conditioning, power windows and door locks, AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo with four speakers, audio auxiliary jack, tilt steering wheel, remote keyless entry system, rear window wiper/washer and 60/40 split fold-down rear seats.

The MAZDA2 Touring takes everything on the MAZDA2 Sport and pumps it up a notch. The MAZDA2 Touring is equipped with a five-speed manual transmission or available four-speed automatic transmission. All Touring models feature upgraded seat fabric with red piping, 15-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, rear roof spoiler, chrome exhaust tip, leather-wrapped steering wheel-mounted audio and cruise controls, trip computer and a six-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo system. Available accessories include a rear bumper guard, wheel locks (Touring models only), all-weather floor mats, cargo net, center console with armrest and auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass, Homelink® and orange backlit buttons.

Six exterior colors are offered: Brilliant Black Clearcoat, Liquid Silver, True Red, Crystal White Pearl, Aquatic Blue (late availability) and Spirited Green. With the two trim level and transmission choices, this makes life easy with just 24 combinations to choose from in total.

MAZDA2 Sport with 5-speed manual transmission features a manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of $13,980, while the top-of-the-line MAZDA2 Touring with 4-speed automatic transmission has a MSRP of $16,235.

The MAZDA2 comes with a roadside assistance program. With a call to a toll-free number, owners can access roadside assistance 24 hours a day, 365 days a year throughout the United States and Canada. In addition, a comprehensive three-year/36,000-mile warranty covers every part on the vehicle except those subject to normal wear. Also, the MAZDA2 receives a five-year/60,000 mile powertrain warranty and a five-year/unlimited-mileage corrosion warranty.

With more than 900 Mazda dealers across the United States, Canada and Mexico a convenient ownership experience should be the norm with the MAZDA2.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
© Larry Nutson
Final word: Mazda would like you to follow your “Inner Driver” to the all-new MAZDA2. Have fun making your life more compact!