2013 Mazda2 Road Test Review

Jon Rosner - CAP staff
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Perspective is everything when comparing cars, value for dollar and performance.

During a week of driving the Mazda2, this author's involvement with volunteer organizations led to several rides in older cars like the Toyota Echo, early Honda Fit and pint sized Kia Rio. The older wheels featured seats with the comfort of a park bench, levels of road noise that require powerful aftermarket stereos, shouted conversations, and the ride comfort of a dump truck. Crank windows and no air conditioning were also standard features. Yes, not that long ago.

The Mazda2 appears to be costly, but the standard five-speed manual, 15-inch alloy wheels, power locks and windows, keyless entry, nice cloth seats, air conditioning, anti-lock brakes with Electronic Brake Distribution (one of the FEW new features that is worth looking at as it works and is not expensive to implement). Dynamic Stability Control is another up and comer that is standard on the Mazda2, and it's so functional that it may become mandatory. These bits increase the Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price to $15,590 including destination fees, but since most manufacturers include these features as standard anyway it behooves one to compare apples to apples, and competitor's cars match the price of the Mazda2. Utility is another matter, and this is where the 2 started to look quite appealing.

Our U.S. car came with the aesthetically pleasing Clearwater Blue colour that Mazda has been using for years, although it's not available in Canada; try Aquatic Blue if water tones are your thing. The 2 is a tall car with a narrow chassis that meets Asian road tax standards. I could have sported a ten-gallon hat and still had excess headroom. Excellent use of interior space meant that carrying two full-sized adults and three mid-growth teenagers was not an issue. The seats and overall interior aren't hotbeds of fancy materials, but look and feel solidly made and the former offered good comfort for the extended runs taken.

The engine is a Singer Sewing Machine, a smooth little hummer of 1.5 litres and 16 valves cranking out 100 horses at 6,000 rpm with a 6,400 redline, while torque comes in at 98 pound-feet at 4,000 rpm.  If these numbers sound familiar they should be. This is close to the formula for the original hot hatch ~ the VW Rabbit GTI ~ and the 2's on-the-road dynamics are also very satisfying.

Let's revisit the price for a moment. The Mazda2 has a timing chain, not a timing belt, so keep that extra $800 to $1,500 in your pocket at those 100,000 to 200,000 km timing belt exchange intervals.

The Mazda2 comes in at 1,046 kilos for the stick shift and 1,070 mit slushbox. This may be why throttle whacking in fifth gear produced unexpected responsiveness. Passenger laden, the 2 pulled surprisingly well from 100ish to the high 130s when the fast lane opened up on a flat road. Five up, a slick drop to fourth gear was required for the steep and nasty Sunol grade of Route 680 commute traffic. With a narrow chassis and shorter 2,489-mm wheelbase, plus P185/55R15 V-speed rated all-season radials it was expected that the 2 would handle up to Mazda's rather high standards of driver control. But it really outdid expectations in the Zoom-Zoom department. Bluntly, this author loaded the Mazda2 to the max with people, photo gear and trip supplies to cover the Cars & Coffee event at Bruce Canepa'a in Scotts Valley, California. This took us over the no run-off, no room for errors, mountain Route 17. The road offering off-camber twists which genuflect between all-business Silicon Valley and liberal political bastion Santa Cruz. Over these very trying roads the 2 was simply the eager, happy camper out at play. Supple ride, Miata family performance genes obvious. Yes, a few really deep potholes made the car shudder once or twice, but with far less teeth grinding than some of the rides taken in the older models mentioned earlier.

Flogging the Mazda2 on Route 17, along with hideous bumper-to-bumper accident-related slow-downs on other San Francisco Bay Area trips, meant that we didn't hit the EPA expected metric equivalent average of 7.3 L/100km, instead coming in at 7.8. Although other less lead-footed press jockey friends have seen the magic 7.3 figure in their runs. The EPA says a metric-converted 8.1/6.7 stick and 8.4/6.9 automatic from the 42.8-litre tank. Canadian ratings are much more optimistic at 6.8/5.6 manual and 7.1/5.8 automatic, but use them for comparative purposes only. That said this cheapskate author was pleased to toss an extra 20 litres of unleaded into this sprightly and cheerful little bugbomb to finish out the week's chores.

The Mazda2 was a pleasure to drive at any pace. It's refreshing to see that even small cars like the 2 can be utterly civil to live with.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Hatchback, Mazda, 2013, Mazda2, $10,000 - $19,999, Subcompact,

Organizations: Mazda

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