Mazda hasn't been a player in the subcompact market for more than a decade, but that didn't stop enthusiasts from calling on the Japanese automaker to import its world market Mazda2 to North America. That wish has finally come true, and while the North American Mazda2 gets some minor changes from the version sold elsewhere, it retains the playful character and nimble handling that makes it a favorite across the globe.
The North American Mazda2 more or less mirrors the car sold in other markets aside from upgrades to the interior based on consumer focus groups. The Mazda2 is based on the same platform as the Ford Fiesta, but comes only in five-door hatchback form and with different powertrain options.
Mazda says that the Mazda2 is "Zoom-Zoom concentrated," and that it possesses the sporty soul seen in the automaker's other products - but at a lower price point and in a smaller package. The Mazda2 measures just 155.2 inches in overall length.
The Mazda2 is powered by a 1.5-liter four-cylinder that produces 100 horsepower and 98 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed manual comes standard, with a four-speed automatic available as an option. Fuel economy is rated at 29 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway with the stick and 28/34 with the automatic.
This compact car is available in two trim levels - the entry-level Sport and top-grade Touring.
Standard features on the Sport include 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, 60/40 split fold-down rear seats and 15-inch steel wheels with hubcaps.
Upgrading to the Touring trim level will add red seat piping, upgraded cloth seats, 15-inch alloy wheels, fog lamps, a rear roof spoiler, a chrome exhaust tip, leather-wrapped steering wheel with wheel-mounted audio and cruise controls and a six-speaker CD/MP3 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.
The Mazda2 comes standard with dual front, side and side curtains in addition to traction and stability control systems and ABS.
The Mazda2 squares off against rivals such as the Honda Fit, the Ford Fiesta, the Chevrolet Sonic Hatchback and the Hyundai Accent Hatchback. Although all of those rides offer better fuel economy than the little Mazda, not one is more fun to drive.