2011 Mazda 2 Review and Prices

Last Updated: Mar 3, 2011

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2011 Mazda 2 Buying Advice

The 2011 Mazda 2 is the best subcompact car for you if the feisty 2011 Ford Fiesta appeals to your automotive needs but not your brand consciousness.

The 2011 Mazda 2 is a fuel-sipping front-wheel-drive four-door hatchback that competes with such mighty mites as the 2011 Honda Fit and 2011 Toyota Yaris. This is essentially Mazda’s version of the highly acclaimed 2011 Ford Fiesta but with its own distinct personality. The 2011 Mazda 2 parleys low mass and sporty suspension tuning into delightfully nimble road manners. You’ll pay $15,000-$17,000, average 30 mpg without trying, and have about as much fun as you would in a  Mini Cooper, but with lower payments and less pretension.

Should you buy a 2011 Mazda 2 or wait for the 2012 Mazda 2? Buy a 2011 Mazda 2. The 2012 Mazda 2 won’t get any changes worth waiting for, though it’ll likely creep up in price. Buying a 2011 enables you to start saving gas sooner and having fun now.

2011 Mazda 2 Changes back to top

Styling: The 2011 Mazda 2 is kind of a rakish biscuit. In contrast to boxy novelty designs like the Kia Soul and Nissan Cube, it’s a little barrel with a bulb-like nose. The radically swept-back windshield and upswept body-side creases give it a wedged shape. This is a small-car look common overseas but new to the U.S. The Mazda 2 that Americans get wears Mazda’s new family face, defined by a big grille that recalls the Joker’s comic-book smile.

The 2011 Mazda 2 is designed to seat five but this is quite a small car. It’s a full size below the compact-class Mazda 3 and its body length is more than 6 inches shorter than that of the Honda Fit four-door hatchback, America’s subcompact sales leader for 2010.

But a tall roof gives 2011 Mazda 2 occupants laudable head clearance and there’s generally good room for front passengers. Rear-seat leg room is at a premium because the Mazda 2’s wheelbase is just 98.0 inches. Wheelbase, the distance between front and rear axles, is key to a car’s leg room and the Mazda 2’s wheelbase is slightly shorter than that of the Fit and the Yaris four-door sedan.

The 2011 Mazda 2’s relatively brief body length cuts down on cargo space, with just 13.3 cubic feet behind the rear seat and only 27.8 with the rear seatback folded. That’s actually about average for a hatchback in this category, though the Fit has 20.6 and 57.3 cubic feet, respectively to qualify as a spacey standout for its size.

The 2011 Mazda 2 is the product of a Mazda-Ford design collaboration that produced several cars over the years, most recently the Mazda 3 and the redesigned 2012 Ford Focus compact. The Mazda 2 arrived in U.S. showrooms in autumn 2010 after being on sale in Europe, Asia, and Britain since 2007.

The 2011 Ford Fiesta shares the Mazda 2’s basic body and chassis design, but has different styling and offers a four-door sedan in addition to a four-door hatchback. The Ford’ is longer overall, too: hatchback to hatchback, the Fiesta is longer than the Mazda 2 by 4.6 inches, while the Fiesta sedan is a whopping 18.1 inches longer than the Mazda 2. Still, neither Fiesta body style furnishes more passenger room or cargo space than its Mazda relative, and the Fiesta costs about $1,000 more.

The 2011 Mazda 2 comes in just two trims, base Sport and uplevel Touring. Visual distinctions are limited to fancier trim on the Touring. It has alloy wheels instead of steel wheels with plastic wheel covers, plus fog lights, a rear roof spoiler, and a chrome exhaust tip.

Both 2011 Mazda 2 models share a dashboard design that’s the very definition of simplicity, with a function-first arrangement of gauges and controls. This is in contrast to the Fiesta’s fashion-forward design that favors flourishes in color, shape, and layout.       

Mechanical: The 2011 Mazda 2 uses conventional small-car engineering carefully developed to furnish sharp handling and a compliant ride. It has front-wheel drive, which concentrates the mass of the powertrain over the tires that also propel the car. That benefits wet-surface traction and maximizes passenger and cargo room.

The sole engine is a 1.5-liter four-cylinder rated at 100 horsepower and 98 pound-feet of torque (think of torque as the motive force in acceleration, horsepower as the energy that sustains momentum).  Cost constraints prevent most cars in the class from using cutting-edge transmission technology and indeed, the 2011 Mazda 2 falls in with the pack, offering a choice of a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic.  

The 2011 Mazda 2 is subcompact-typical in its other mechanic6al features, as well. It has an independent front suspension but a torsion beam rear axle, front-disc and rear-drum brakes, and electric power-assisted steering. Standard safety features include antilock brakes, an antiskid system, and traction control for improved behavior in stops, turns, and off the line. The only tire size is a very modest 185/155R15.   

On paper, the Mazda 2 is among the least-powerful new cars on the road but it’s also one of the lightest, with a curb weight of just 2,306 pounds, about 175 pounds below the subcompact-class norm and a significant 230 or so below the Fiesta hatchback. Indeed, Mazda is intent on providing a minimalist approach to modern motoring and the result is an uncommonly connected driving experience. The 2011 Mazda 2 has just enough power to keep you from a stiff sentence in the slow lane, though we recommend the manual transmission over the automatic for the extra degree of throttle response it provides. Ride quality is surprisingly good, handling is nimble, and close-quarters maneuverability a breeze.

Features: In many foreign markets, cars the size of the 2011 Mazda 2 fill the role of a family’s sole transportation. Such cars often offer a selection of upscale amenities and performance features that would price them beyond the range of the target American buyer. In the U.S., the Mazda 2 is an entry-level car and thus highly price-sensitive.

That doesn’t necessarily preclude it from coming with a nice array of standard features. These include air conditioning and power windows, locks, and mirrors. Remote keyless entry and driver and passenger sunvisor vanity mirrors also are included. The steering column tilts but doesn’t telescope. The rear seatbacks are split 60/40 and fold, though the lower cushion remains stationary, denying the Mazda 2 the handy utility of a flat load floor.

Front torso-protecting side airbags and head-protecting curtain side airbags for all outboard positions are standard.

Concessions to the 2011 Mazda 2 low-price strategy include unavailability of a sunroof, leather upholstery, or a navigation system. An auxiliary audio jack is standard, but a USB iPod interface isn’t offered. Cruise control is exclusive to the Touring model, where it’s standard, and a front center console with an armrest and storage is a dealer-installed option.

2011 Mazda 2 Prices back to top

Base-price range for the 2011 Mazda 2 is $14,730-$16,985. That’s at the lower end of the subcompact spectrum and like all base prices sited in this review, includes the manufacturer’s mandated destination fee. Mazda’s destination fee for the 2011 Mazda 2 is $750.  

The 2011 Mazda 2 Sport model is priced from $14,730 with the five-speed manual transmission and from $15,530 with the four-speed automatic.

The 2011 Mazda 2 Touring model starts at $16,185 with manual transmission and at $16,985 with automatic. To the Sport model, the Touring adds a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio and cruise controls, upgraded black cloth upholstery with red piping, and a trip computer that displays current and average fuel economy, and miles to empty. The Touring also has six speakers, to the Sport model’s four, through the audio hardware is the same.
Factory options are sparse, confined to an inside rearview mirror fitted with a compass and Homelink garage-door transceiver ($295), a cargo net ($40), and wheel locks for the Touring version’s alloys ($50). Crystal White Pearl Paint also is available at $200 extra.

2011 Mazda 2 Fuel Economy back to top

EPA fuel-economy ratings for the 2011 Mazda 2 are 29/35 mpg city/highway with manual transmission and 27/33 with automatic.

These are decent-enough figures, but despite its low weight and humble power output, the 2011 Mazda 2 doesn’t hit a fuel-economy homerun. It’s no better than the competitive set of more powerful subcompacts and trails a select number of larger, faster compact cars.

The explanation is that Mazda’s is willing to trade a bit of gas mileage in the name of sportier transmission gear ratios that favor acceleration over ultimate economy.

2011 Mazda 2 Release Date back to top

The 2011 Mazda 2 went on sale in autumn 2010.

What's next for the 2011 Mazda 2 back to top

The Mazda 2 has been a success around the world, named Car of the Year in more than 20 countries and voted 2008 World Car of the Year by international automotive journalists. The U.S. version has won plaudits for its lively nature and straightforward design, if not for its styling.

However, the basic engineering of the 2011 Mazda 2 is five model years old. It’s nearing the end of its life cycle. If this Mazda/Ford platform is redesigned for, say, model-year 2013, it could mean the initial U.S. version would have a relatively short life.

Mazda might decide to continue selling the older design in America to keep prices down. However, if the car is a hit here and if Americans develop an appetite for subcompact hatchbacks, Mazda could decide to position the 2 as a cutting-edge small car and bring over the next-generation model and its engineering advances without delay. It might also expand the lineup to include other body styles and powertrains, including the all-electric version planned for limited release in Japan.

2011 Mazda 2 Competition back to top

2011 Ford Fiesta: We rarely count a car’s design cousin among its competitors but differences between the Fiesta and Mazda 2 amount to more than just appearance details. Not quite as frolicsome as the Mazda 2 but a smidge more refined, Fiesta is positioned upmarket, offers the sedan body style, and is available with such upscale features as leather upholstery, heated front seats, moonroof, pushbutton ignition, and 17-inch wheels. Fiesta has a pricier powertrain too, utilizing a 1.6-liter four-cylinder with 120 horsepower and 112 pound-feet of torque. It offers a five-speed manual transmission (rated 29/38 mpg) but its “automatic” is a six-speed dual-clutch unit rated 29/38 mpg, or 30/40 in Super Fuel Economy guise. The 2011 Fiesta sedan starts at $13,995, the hatchback at $15,795.

2011 Honda Fit: The class of the subcompact class for passenger and cargo room and a championship contender for sporty road manners, too. With just 118 horsepower and 106 pound-feet of torque this four-door wagon is no muscle car, but fuel economy is a polite 27/33 mpg with manual transmission, 28/35 with automatic. The real highlight is Fit’s packaging, which furnishes category-topping cargo space and surprising comfort for four adults. The 2011 Fit’s base-price range is $15,850-$19,990. Expect minor style revisions for model-year 2012 and a full redesign for model-year 2014. In between Honda could well introduce an all-electric Fit.; the automaker has committed to demonstration models but not to a timetable for full public sale.

2011 Nissan Versa: Priced like a subcompact, sized like a compact, and hard to ignore for roominess, comfort, and value. Versa offers a dorky four-door sedan and a desirably funky four-door hatchback. The price-leader sedan starts just $10,740 with a 107-horsepower four-cylinder, but you’ll want at least some amenities, and that means a sedan or hatch starting around $14,300 with a four-cylinder with 122 horses and 127 pound-feet of torque. Fuel-economy ratings span 24/32-28/34 mpg. The 2011 model is likely the last of a design generation that dates from model-year 2007, but that means close-out discounts should be available to make way for the all-new 2012 Versa.