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2013 Mazda2 Review
By John Heilig

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2013 Mazda2

The Auto Page
By John Heilig

Model: 2013 Mazda2
Engine: 1.5-litter I4
Horsepower/Torque: 100 hp @ 6,000 rpm/98 lb.-ft. @ 4,000 rpm
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Wheelbase: 98.0 in.
Length x Width x Height: 155.5 x 66.7 x 58.1 in.
Tires: P185/55R15
Cargo: 13.3/27.8 cu. ft. (2nd row up/down)
Economy: 29 mpg city/35 mpg highway/32.4 mpg test
Fuel tank: 11.3 gal.
Curb wt.: 2,306 lbs.
Sticker:  $17,600 ($16,210 base)

Bottom line: The Mazda2 is a sub-compact sedan that is roomier than some of the competition. The trade-off in size is excellent fuel economy and a good base price.

It seems that for a couple of weeks I was booked consistently into small cars. This time the vehicle is the subcompact Mazda2. Even though the Mazda2 is the smallest vehicle in the Mazda lineup, it still benefits from the company's SkyActiive technology. That means that the engine, transmission, chassis, suspension, brakes, etc., have been optimized for the best performance possible.

For example, the 1.5-liter inline four that powers the Mazda2 puts out a decent 100 horsepower. That's really enough, because the Mazda2 only weighs 2,306 lbs. More importantly, the peppy little engine delivered 32.4 mpg on our test, which is quite competitive.

The engine powers the front wheels through a 5-speed manual transmission. Many of Mazda's competitors use 6-speeds, but the 5-speed has well-chosen ratios that allow you to find the proper one to get the most out of the engine. For example, there isn't much horsepower or torque in fourth and fifth because of lowered rpms, but just downshift to increase the revs and you're fine.

We found the Mazda2 to be a good driver and rider. It's relatively quiet, depending on the road surface. Good asphalt roads, for example send almost no feedback into the cabin, but a concrete roadway with tar strips makes itself known. The ride isn't choppy, as you might expect from a car with a 98-inch wheelbase.

The smart steering wheel has intuitive controls for cruise, HVAC and audio. We didn't use the cruise control much because we had to shift frequently. The instrument panel consists of white-on-black dials with orange lighting at night,

Even though the front seats adjust manually, it's fairly easy to set them to comfortable positions. The good side support of the front seats adds to the comfort.

Rear legroom is tight. Also, the only assist handle is for the front passenger, so rear passengers must finagle their way into the seat without help. Also, if you use the rear assist handles for hangers, you'll have to find another solution. There's a moderate rear center hump, so a small passenger could ride back there. With child booster seats installed, the seat belt receivers re hard to find.

Trunk volume is small, at 13.3 cubic feet, but that expands to more than double that with the rear seat backs folded. We were able to put a rocking horse back there with the rear seat backs down.

Some concessions were made to get the sticker price down to $17,600. Even though the rear wiper is unique to the segment, there are no lights for the visor mirrors.

While the three-knob HVAC system is intuitive, the audio system takes some learning. We drove the Mazda2 in some pretty cold weather and I was impressed with how quickly the heater warmed us. I also liked the fact that all the door pulls have bottoms. This makes them an ideal place to stow your cell phone, or even your wallet when you've made a trip to the local ATM.

The sharp looking Mazda2 is classified as a sub-compact, so it shouldn't be expected to be a performance car. What it does is deliver good economy in general driving for a relatively low sticker price. It also delivers decent ride quality and comfort no matter where you take it.

(c) 2013 The Auto Page Syndicate