Here’s a new subcompact whose marketing is pitching hard to you kids, complete with sprinting aliens, iPhone giveaways and the opportunity to modify its ‘skin’ for a few hundred dollars more as a way to ‘express yourself’. But the Mazda2 doesn’t need all that. For the price, it’s already a good deal of car.
It doesn’t have a lot of power, topping out at 100hp and 98lbs of torque, but the front-wheel drive is light so you can still go fast. And if you do? It whines at high speed, so turn up the stereo.
But it handles really well on the humps and turns. We took it for a decent spin around the dirt roads and hills of Ontario’s Kawartha Lakes and it gave us its all. The 3-point safety belts create an indecent feeling of security. A 5-speed manual trannie shifts like butter — you can ride second gear hard, maximizing power in the turns without losing momentum.
NB: I had also just finished a week in its far advanced technical superior, the Mazda RX-8, but even with the inevitable comparison the shifting still felt good.
You’ll want it tuned stiffly to preserve the thrill, and definitely purchase snow tires if you’re taking it anywhere but the city streets in winter.
The overall lightness means it does superbly on mileage which you young people care about: 6.8L/100km in the city; 5.6L/100km on highways. Tiny, it turns anywhere and parks easily in those underground spots you never have the cojones to attempt. Thankfully, the hatchback window makes it easier to judge distance too.
For the low price, you get a few decent extras, like power windows, locks and door mirrors. To upgrade to automatic transmission it costs another $1,100, so don’t. It takes the fun out of it. And driving this little baby needs to remain fun.
There’s not a lot of space for passengers but if you’re planning on a family soon, this may not be your first choice of automobile. As a second car, or if it’s your first ever, it’s a good choice. No need to re-skin it, though.
GX MSRP: $13,995
GS MSRP: $18,195