It's not hard to see why the spunky yet refined Mazda 2 was such a huge hit abroad when the last generation debuted in 2007. Three years later, this lightly updated version is less of a revelation but is still a very credible addition to what has become a very competitive field. The 2 may lack the do-it-all versatility of the Fit or the high-tech sophistication of the ritzier Fiesta, but it brings a solid combination of driving engagement, maturity, and value. Needless to say, we're glad Mazda's decided to crash the subcompact party.
Credit Canada: Thanks to Our Neighbors to the North, We Get Mazda's Fun, Lightweight B-Car
Even as a driver's econobox, the interior is pleasant for passengers. The tall interior package offers adequate rear headroom and ample rear legroom for sub-six-footers, who'll find lots of space for their feet under the front seats, though probably with knees pointed up. The driver's and front-passenger's environment is light and airy, with a big picture window in front, not overly raked, so the dashboard doesn't look like it belongs in a minivan. The dropoff of the hatch lid below the rear window will have you learning parallel parking parameters by trial and error, however.
Mazda is marketing the 2 as the sport coupe of four-door hatchback b-cars, more Mini than family-style Fiesta or sub-MPV Honda Fit and Nissan Versa. It's certainly among the most fun to drive cars in this class. For the portion of those 23 American small-car lovers who aren't quite as concerned about carrying rear-seat passengers and their luggage, the Mazda2 is the better, cheaper alternative to the highly hyped and likely to be in short-supply Fiesta.
Based on the new ultra-efficient Skyactiv 1.3-liter model, the Smart Stylish gets a complete aerodynamic overhaul, with new front and rear bumpers as well as side skits and some large BBS wheels. Bringing the package together is a lowered suspension.