A sporty, subcompact car, the Mazda2 is a good deal in a small package. The 1.5-liter, 100-horsepower engine offers comparable fuel economy for this class, with the 5-speed manual transmission edging out the 4-speed automatic by a mile or two per gallon and offering better pick-up. With its responsive handling and agile ride, the Mazda2 is popular with consumers looking for an affordable subcompact; however, the unimpressive pick-up and cheap interior overshadow the more appealing features of this hatchback.
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Compared to other subcompacts, the four-cylinder engine of the Mazda2 offers competitive fuel economy at 29 MPG in the city and 35 MPG on the highway (these figures are for the 5-speed manual transmission; the 4-speed automatic transmission is slightly less efficient at 27 MPG in the city and 33 MPG on the highway). The manual transmission also offers better pick-up than the automatic, though the Mazda2 remains marginally slower than its competitors (0 to 60 MPH in 11.1 seconds vs. 10.7 seconds in the Ford Fiesta). However, this hatchback is one of the lightest subcompacts, so it's a fuel-efficient, responsive vehicle. The small turning radius makes parking in tight spaces effortless.
Despite its nimble handling, the Mazda2 ultimately cannot contend with its competitors. Although this subcompact car is built on the same platform as the Ford Fiesta, the Mazda is several inches shorter than the Fiesta and the Honda Fit, and it ends up sacrificing interior cargo space. Additionally, the base price of the Ford, Honda, and the Nissan Cube are comparable as are the warranties; therefore, the Mazda2 doesn't do much to distinguish itself among other subcompacts.
The standard features of the Mazda2 Sport include power windows and locks, front and front-seat side airbags, anti-lock brakes with EBD (electronic brake force distribution), and a tilt steering wheel. Cruise control and steering-wheel mounted stereo controls are options on the Touring trim line.
One of the strongest features of the Mazda2 is its traction and stability control. According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, the Mazda2 earned "Good" ratings for its front collision and roof strength tests, while it earned "Acceptable" ratings for the side impact and rear crash protection tests. In independent tests conducted by Edmunds, the Mazda2 was able to stop at 129 feet from a 60 MPH test run, which is acceptable for this class of car.