2012 Mazda 2 Review and Prices

Last Updated: Mar 7, 2011

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2012 Mazda 2 Buying Advice

The 2012 Mazda 2 is the best car for you if want to a minimalist subcompact that furnishes maximum driving involvement.

The 2012 Mazda 2 shouldn’t receive any substantive changes for its second season in the U.S. It’ll again be based on the same high-fuel-economy small car design as the popular 2012 Ford Fiesta, but pared down with less weight and fewer amenities in the service of a purer driving experience.

Should you wait for the 2012 Mazda 2 or buy a 2011 Mazda 2? Buy a 2011 Mazda 2. The 2012 Mazda 2 is almost certain to be a virtual rerun of the 2011 – except perhaps for a new color choice or two and very likely the traditional year-over-year price hike.

2012 Mazda 2 Changes back to top

Styling: The 2012 Mazda 2 won’t look any different than the 2011 Mazda 2. It’ll return as a diminutive four-door hatchback known more its personality than its looks. Expect Mazda’s crazy-clown corporate grille to repeat, along with a wedgy little body shaped to provide the greatest interior space while occupying the least room on the road.

The 2012 Mazda 2 will again officially seat five, but two adults in front and a couple of short-legged folks in back is the practical limit. A 98.0-inch wheelbase, among the shortest of any mainstream U.S. car, is to blame for the lack of rear-seat legroom.

The 2012 Mazda 2’s body length also will remain among the briefest on the road, and that’ll keep luggage space tight, too. Cargo volume with the rear seatbacks folded will remain just 27.8 cubic feet, OK for the class but stingy for a hatchback. And the rear seat cushion is likely to remain immovable, precluding a flat load floor. The upside is a base curb weight apt to stay below 2,350 pounds, keeping the 2012 Mazda 2 among the lightest cars on the road and benefitting handling and fuel economy.

Expect the 2012 Mazda 2 to return base Sport and uplevel Touring models, though Mazda could always insert a third trim level to service some demand that became evident during the car’s debut season. In any event, the 2012 Mazda 2 Touring will probably remain visually distinguished from the Sport by such touches as alloy wheels instead of wheel covers and by its rear roof spoiler, fog lamps, and shiny exhaust tip.

The 2012 Mazda 2 will continue to share its basic structure with the 2012 Ford Fiesta, though the Fiesta comes as a four-door sedan in addition to a four-door hatchback. The Ford is aimed upmarket of the Mazda, too, with higher pricing, fancier styling, and a more flamboyant dashboard design. Fiesta’s exterior dimensions are slightly larger than the Mazda’s, though it’s no roomier inside.

Mechanical: The 2012 Mazda 2 will remain an entirely conventional subcompact mechanically. The aim is to cut costs with simple, proven engineering that includes front-wheel drive, a torsion beam rear suspension, rear-drum brakes, and a choice of a five-speed automatic transmission or a four-speed automatic. Expect the only engine to remain a 1.5-liter four-cylinder. It should retain a modest 100 horsepower and 98 pound-feet of torque.

All the basic dynamic safety aids should again be standard, including antilock brakes for control in emergency stops and an antiskid system to help mitigate sideways slides. Electric power assisted steering will return, and the only tire size likely to remain a humble 185/155R15.  

All this adds up to a car that satisfies on a very elemental level. The 2012 Mazda 2 will again have just enough power to move its modest weight with some verve. It’ll return with a suspension tuned to work in harmony with the lean structure, furnishing agile handling and surprisingly good ride quality.  

Features: The 2012 Mazda 2 is likely to remain true to its roots as a small hatchback that concentrates on the essentials and leaves the gingerbread to more expensive cars.

Luckily, those essentials almost certainly will again include such fundamentals as air conditioning, remote keyless entry, and power windows, locks, and mirror. Front torso-protecting side airbags and head-protecting curtain side airbags for all outboard positions also will return as part of the base price.

Don’t, however, expect the 2012 Mazda 2 to add a telescoping adjustment to its tilt steering column. It’s highly unlikely to begin offering a navigation system, leather upholstery, or a sunroof, either. We’d urge Mazda to find a way to accompany the standard auxiliary audio jack with a USB iPod interface.

It ought to consider expanded cruise control from an exclusive standard feature on the Touring model to at least an option on the Sport version. And a front center console with armrest and storage would be a nice standard addition to ether model but probably will remain a dealer-installed option.

2012 Mazda 2 Prices back to top

Prices for the 2012 Mazda 2 were not announced in time for this review, but this is a highly price-sensitive segment and Mazda will be loath to stray much from 2011 price levels.

That suggests a 2012 Mazda 2 base-price range of roughly $15,080-$17,335. That ought to keep the 2012 Mazda 2 just below the subcompact-price median. (All estimated base prices in this review include the manufacturer’s mandated destination fee; Mazda’s fee for the 2011 Mazda 2 was $750.) 

Estimated base price for the 2012 Mazda 2 Sport model is $15,100 with the five-speed manual transmission and 15,880 with the four-speed automatic.

Expect the 2012 Mazda 2 Touring model to start around $16,530 with manual transmission and $17,330 with automatic.

The 2012 Mazda 2 Touring probably will again upgrade the Sport model by adding such perks as the alloy wheels, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio and cruise controls, a trip computer, a better grade of cloth upholstery, and two additional stereo speakers, for a total of six.

Don’t look for Mazda to drastically expand a slim list of factory options. An inside rearview mirror that incorporates a compass and a Homelink garage-door transceiver should again be available for around $300. A $40 cargo net and $50 wheel locks for the Touring’s alloys should be typical of the few extra-cost items returning for the 2012 Mazda 2.

2012 Mazda 2 Fuel Economy back to top

EPA fuel-economy ratings for the 2012 Mazda 2 were unavailable in time for this review, but there’s little reason to suppose they’ll be much different from the 2011 ratings.

That suggests the 2012 Mazda 2 would be rated 29/35 mpg city/highway with manual transmission and 27/33 with automatic.

These are not the consumption figures of a gas-guzzler, but several subcompacts and even some larger compact-class cars would again rate higher. Indeed, Mazda has conceded a few miles per gallon to the competition to give the Mazda 2 transmission gear ratios that promote acceleration over ultimate fuel economy.

2012 Mazda 2 Release Date back to top

The 2012 Mazda 2 should be in showrooms by autumn 2011.

What's next for the 2012 Mazda 2 back to top

Though it was brand new to American buyers in model-year 2011, the Mazda 2 was quite familiar overseas. It went on sale in Europe, Asia, and England during 2007, with a two-door hatchback accompanying the four-door hatch that came to the U.S.

Mazda could expand the U.S. lineup to include the two-door hatchback but isn’t likely to stray into Fiesta territory by offering a four-door sedan. Neither is it apt to encroach on the upscale positioning Ford has staked out for its subcompact.

The big question is when this basic shared platform will be redesigned. It’s conceivably due for a major makeover for model year 2013 or so. Whether Mazda and Ford would dump designs still fresh to U.S. buyers so soon or continue to feature the current Mazda 2 and Fiesta in America while selling newer versions overseas is unknown.

2012 Mazda 2 Competition back to top

Ford Fiesta: Americans took to this Euro-flavored subcompact with enough fervor to make it the best-selling car in the class by early 2011 and the 2012 version ought to remain different enough from the Mazda 2 to warrant your consideration. Expect the 2012 Fiesta to return with a 120-horsepower four-cylinder engine, with addition of a Ford EcoBoost turbo four of around 180 horsepower a possibility. The 2012 Fiesta hatchback will likely remain priced above the Mazda 2 – look for it to start around $16,000. And Ford buyers have been ladling on the options, many of which, such as heated leather seats, aren’t offered on the Mazda 2. Despite its power advantage, expect the 2012 Fiesta to also retain a slight fuel-economy edge at 29/38 mpg for mainstream models and 30/40 for the Super Fuel Economy version.

Honda Fit: The 2012 Fit is in line a mild facelift that won’t alter a basic little-wagon shape that sets class standards for passenger space and cargo versatility. It’ll again be only marginally larger than the Mazda 2 on the outside, but the 2012 Fit should continue to carry four grownups in surprising comfort. It’ll also return with a cleaver rear-folding-seat design that provides it with 57 cubic feet of cargo volume. A four-cylinder of around 118 horsepower will likely return as the sole engine, but nothing should prevent the 2012 Fit from remaining among the best-handling cars in the class. Expect a 2012 base-price range of $16,200-$20,300. Honda has announced an all-electric Fit, but hasn’t specified an on-sale date; it could come before this car’s next full redesign, anticipated for model-year 2014.

Hyundai Accent: It’s due its first full redesign since model-year 2006 and if Hyundai’s recent history is an indication, the 2012 Accent should come out fighting. Anticipate radical new styling in the fashion of the South Korean carmarker’s larger Elantra compact. Look for four-door sedan and four-door hatchback body styles and slightly more interior space than in the Mazda 2. Available features should shade more to Fiesta’s level given Hyundai’s push for lots of content at highly competitive prices. Expect a 110-horsepower base engine with possibly a 120-horse upgrade available and don’t be surprised if both rate 40 mpg in highway driving. Hyundai has offered an Accent price-leader starting around $11,000; whether the next-generation model would continue with such a stripper was an open question at the time of this review. Expect mainstream 2012 Accents to start around $15,000.

2012 Mazda 2 Next Steps