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2011 Mazda Mazda2 Pros and Cons at TrueDelta: Practical and Fun! by moraviapils

A member in Massachusetts, United States

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Introduction

There's an old saying that applies to the Mazda2: It's more fun to drive a slow car fast than to drive a fast car slow. This is the perfect slow car with great handling and a tiny but willing engine coupled with everyday practicality and reliability. It's a newer and safer 90s Honda Civic!

Reviewed: 2011 Mazda Mazda2

4dr Hatch 100-horsepower 1.5L I4 5-speed manual FWD

Why the 2011 Mazda Mazda2?

Handling

Handling is surely the Mazda2's strongest point. This is the lightest four door car sold in the US and it shows when you zing this thing around a corner. The Mazda2 changes direction willingly and grips far better than you'd think for such a cheap car. Steering feedback and feel are excellent so you have the confidence to push the car right to its limits. If you overstep those limits, traction control is standard and the forgiving setup makes it easy to correct. This thing is an absolute hoot to drive at perfectly legal speeds in the city or on a winding road. When you don't feel like Andretti, the Mazda2 is easy and relaxing to drive with a compliant suspension and quick steering.

Safety & braking

Besides the multitude of standard airbags, the Mazda2 has an excellent stopping distance thanks to its light weight. At 80 MPH on the highway, I have always felt confident in the brakes' ability to stop the car if there's trouble ahead.

Powertrain performance

OK, so 100 HP isn't anything to write home about. The torque curve is pretty flat with a bump at its peak around 4000 RPM, so you'll get nearly the same pulling power everywhere on the tach. Another 20 HP would make excursions up to 6000 RPM more rewarding. The manual transmission is really the star of the powertrain package. It's a joy to snick into place and the ability to quickly drop 2-3 gears makes up for the engine's relatively low output. The clutch is low effort and the shift pattern is simple, which are perfect for city driving.

Fuel economy

Between the manual transmission and the suspension, it's easy to drive the Mazda2 like a (tiny) racecar. Despite this and flooring it on every on ramp, I manage to get 30 MPG in mostly city driving. Highway trips net higher (35-38 MPG at 70-75 MPH), but a lot of uphill sections will drag the fuel economy down. Looking at fuelly.com, users are averaging 34 MPG. Not the best, but the Mazda2 achieves this with a much higher smiles-per-mile ratio than comparable B segment cars. I'm extremely satisfied with the gas mileage that I get, considering my driving style.

Audio & nav systems

I love technology, but in car entertainment systems in the budget segment in 2011 had a long way to go. I'm glad that the Mazda2's audio system gives me what I want (audio in jack for my music that should work with every MP3 player on the planet with one cable) and none of what I don't (slow interfaces that purport to connect me to all my music but die when I try to get them to SYNC). All of the controls are simple and easy to use and it doesn't sound half bad either.

Why Not the 2011 Mazda Mazda2?

Quietness

The Mazda2 is not the quietest car for long highway trips. There isn't a lot of wind noise, but a good amount of tire noise makes its way into the car via the hatch. A different brand of tires or laying some sound insulation in the hatch would probably help.

Cargo capacity

The biggest con of the cargo capacity is that the rear seats don't fold flat. Despite this, you can fit one bike into the back of the car fairly easily. If you have more bikes, I would suggest a roof rack.

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