The Mazda 2 is a fitting swansong to the brand's presence in the US hatchback market. It perfectly embodies the automaker's philosophy of simplistic fun and reliability, with engaging driving dynamics and a fair amount of practicality. It is pretty small though, even for a hatch, so it will not appeal to more robust drivers or passengers. However, this smaller size means that the 100-horsepower four-cylinder engine under the hood does not have to strain itself too much. With a fair asking price and decent gas mileage figures, it will be missed in a world that is overrun with high-powered gas-guzzling trucks and crossovers.
See trim levels and configurations:
While it may be fun to drive, the Mazda 2 hatchback is pretty plain in appearance. Available in six exterior colors, including sporty Zeal Red Mica or eye-catching Blue Reflex Mica, the little car does not inspire the same images of sportiness as its rivals, like the Ford Fiesta. Instead, it has more reserved lines and large windows that lend themselves to great visibility when driving. 15-inch wheels are standard, steel on the Sport and alloy on the Touring, along with halogen headlights. The upper trim adds fog lights and a liftgate spoiler. Its dimensions are naturally compact, with its slight width making it easy to park. At under 2,400 pounds in curb weight, it is also less hefty to lug around than most of its competitors.
The power plant is not overly impressive, with the 1.5L inline-four developing a mere 100 hp and 98 lb-ft. But, this does not rule out the potential for fun, thanks to the five-speed manual transmission. Those who only really need a no-hassle commuter might prefer the available four-speed automatic transmission. The only drivetrain option is FWD.
You won't be racing from 0 to 60 in any real rush, but it reaches a top speed of 120 mph if you do not mind the squealing protests of the powertrain. A quick test drive around town, though, proves that it is more than adequate.
While the compact does not look like it should excite, at least on paper, looks can be deceiving. Performance is as much about design as it is output figures, and the Mazda 2 is certainly well designed to deliver a good time. Despite its limitations, the engine seems to delight at being pushed, and the capable handling dynamics help mean that you feel safe when pushing those limits. The small car has a vice-like grip on the road and is well-balanced for a seemingly tall five-door. The lack of advanced driver-assistance features is a little unnerving for less confident drivers, but the vehicle is more than capable without them in the right hands.
The EPA gives the hatchback a rating of 28/33/30 mpg across the city/highway/combined cycles with the auto equipped, and 29/34/31 mpg for the manual. In comparison to more modern vehicles, this may not impress, especially with various hybrids and EVs on the market. But these configurations carry much heavier initial costs, so the Japanese hatch of selling itself with good consumption and a lower asking price.
The interior is quite stark so there are not a lot of features to clutter up the console. Even so,the cabin is pretty cramped for a compact automobile. Still, there is enough room for most adults up front. If you want to pack the back seats, too, be sure it is with people who do not mind having their legroom encroached upon. Regardless of whether you pick the base model or the slightly more expensive Touring spec, cloth upholstery is the only option. Plain Black is upgraded to Black with Red trim on the upper specs. As bare-bones as it is, it never gets access to many creature comforts and the infotainment is just as basic. But, that does not mean that it is inadequate.
For how much you are spending, you should not be expecting too much. Quality-of-life features include air conditioning, power accessories, a 12-volt power outlet, and a decent audio setup. The base Sport gets four speakers and access to AM/FM/CD/MP3 playback as well as a USB input port, while the Touring upgrades to six speakers and adds a trip computer. In terms of safety, the NHTSA has not reviewed the Mazda 2, but the IIHS gives it mixed scores of Good or Acceptable. The small overlap front crash test yielded slightly worrying results, earning a Marginal grade.
Standard safety features comprises six airbags - dual front, front side, and side curtain - along with dynamic stability and traction control, and ABS brakes. All this combines with a decent score of 79/100 in its reliability review from J.D. Power to inspire confidence. The warranty plan only covers three years of bumper-to-bumper and roadside assistance, and a little extra from the five-year drivetrain warranty.
Among the most affordable cars in the USA, the Mazda 2 is priced at around $15,000 MSRP. The upper-tier Touring costs about $1,500 above the base price, while adding the automatic transmission further increases costs by $800. Considering that it is set to be discontinued, all new cars going forward are going to be progressively more advanced and reliable. But this also means higher pricing, while the Mazda hatch remains forever immortalized as it is now.
The most popular competitors of 2014 Mazda 2: