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The Mazda 2: It’s the Little Things

July 4, 2011 by Matt

Mazda 2

If you had to choose one small car currently on the market, which would it be? Say you wrecked your current ride and the bottom fell out financially, and used cars were off limits for some reason, which small, economical car would you pick?

A perennial Mazda fan, I would choose a Mazda 2. From all I’ve heard and seen, there’s something admirably quasi-European about its melding of economy and personality. Having lived in Europe for a number of years, I had a chance to experience firsthand the prevailing carbuilding philosophy on the other side of the pond, a philosophy that doesn’t treat good handling as the exclusive province of more upscale cars. Indeed, given the attention required just to survive a daily commute in most European urban environments, good handling is more of a need than a nice-to-have. The net result is that even economy cars possess a tautness and response factor absent from the beige, slushbox-equipped transportation appliances that occupy the lower end of the auto market here in the US of A.

Mazda2

And Mazda’s fixation on their cars’ handling—and by extension, fun-to-drive factor—regardless of which market segment any particular car may be positioned in, is really admirable. In other words, they don’t “dumb down” their cars’ handling; they give them that responsiveness and well-nigh challenge their customers to recognize and value it. Sure, some American Mazda owners will overlook their cars dynamic qualities and esteem other aspects of their cars more highly (if they even think about their cars in general as more than point-A-to-B devices), but for most folks, it’s difficult to live with a good car for any length of time and not think, “Gee, I really love the way this car feels to drive.” Some cars can sneak up on you like that.

Mazda 2 Interior

From what I’ve seen, I have the feeling the Mazda 2 could surprise a lot of owners—and potential owners—that way. The meaty three-spoke steering wheel, the shifter positioned high on the console, close at hand… Even a first glance at the interior seems to communicate the car’s priorities. Car and Driver comments:

The Mazda 2 hustles through corners with Miata-like athleticism and plenty of steering feel. We like the manual shifter—the way it snicks through the gears…

That’s a car after my own heart. Perhaps I’ll test drive one and report on my experience. For now, though, just knowing Mazda, and their historical focus as a company, I feel pretty confident in saying that if push came to shove and we had to buy a new economy car, the 2 would be the one.

Filed under: Mazda

5 Comments

  1. John D says:

    Bigger is better. ;-)

  2. John D says:

    I knew I had good taste… ;)

  3. David says:

    The real question is: “Can you fit?”

    Perhaps you can remove the driver’s seat (saving weight) and buckle into the back. In some ways, I’ve envied smaller people, as they appear to be more comfortable on airplanes and in the back seat of cars. Then again, I don’t imagine they enjoy getting lost in a crowd, navigating a cubicle labyrinth, or getting dishes out of upper kitchen cabinets.

    This car brings back memories of the Renault Twingo (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renault_Twingo). I have vague memories of seeing the first generation Twingo in France attached on the side of some building for advertisement.

    • Matt says:

      I think you forget my first car:

      Twinkie

      I drove with legs splayed around the steering wheel for 6 years. :)

      Besides, newer cars can surprise you. The whole small on the outside / big on the inside thing isn’t just marketing hype in most cases.

      I remember what you’re talking about re:the Twingo. It was an art exhibit in Paris or some such, IIRC. Tiny cars…

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