• Jul 1st 2010 at 6:45PM
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2011 Mazda2 – Click above for high-res image gallery

Mazda chief executive officer Jim O'Sullivan believes that the company's timing for the launch of the Mazda2 couldn't be better. Despite low gas prices and platform-mate Ford Fiesta rolling onto the scene at the same time, Mazda remains confident that its new B-segment car will be a hit. As Mazda CEO Jim O'Sullivan told Ward's Auto:
I'm glad we're launching now vs. year-ago. A year-ago, we would have launched in the abyss of the market and the economy caving in and all the distractions. When the economy recovers, commodities start to be in greater demand globally. Fuel prices are going to be up over $4, closer to $5 a gallon, so we want to get in before the market gets to that level.
Even though O'Sullivan believes that the Mazda2's timing is perfect, we're led to believe otherwise. As the economy rebounds, buyers have slowly turned towards more upscale models. And with low gas prices, sales of SUVs and truck have risen once again. Even though the Mazda2 is the most fuel-efficient vehicle the company has ever offered in the U.S., gas prices well below the $3 mark (well, maybe not) may hamper its initial success. Not to worry though, Mazda's smallest zoom-zoom offering readies the company for the inevitable day when gas prices skyrocket once again. Plus, we hear it's pretty darn fun to drive.

[Source: Ward's Auto – Sub. Req'd]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Months Ago
      A similarly tuned DOHC definitely will have a wider range of useable power... but again, it all depends on the tuning. I will agree that Honda could do with tuning for more power lower down.

      Still have to disagree with you on gears. You want to be able to hit your cruising speed as quickly as possible. Having short gears allows that. Where it sucks is in maintaining steady-state speed... on the open highway, having an ultra-long fourth or fifth gear really helps get optimum economy... but taking longer to accelerate wastes fuel, as you spend less fuel cruising than you do accelerating.

      Mazda definitely needs to get its head into the game with the new motors... but it'll take time.

      Good for you guys you're getting the new Accents. Too bad you never got the old diesel Accents. 60 mpg in regular highway use. Just awesome. Low rent. Tacky. Understeered like trucks... but awesome performance and economy, those cars.
        • 8 Months Ago
        EDIT: in my testing of vehicles, cars with more gears, even if their cruising gear is numerically similar to cars with fewer gears, tend to use fuel better... all else being equal (namely weight, power and drag).
        • 8 Months Ago

        lower gearing = less pumping losses, which is a major problem in the ICE.
        lower gearing = less wasted energy due to mechanical drag rapidly increasing at higher RPMs..

        engines are most fuel efficient at lower RPMs, short gears are in direct opposition of that, making you rev higher between shifts.

        This is why simple transmission & final drive swaps can drastically alter the MPG of a car.

        Taking longer to accelerate does not waste fuel, the slowest cars with the longest gearing get the best fuel economy, because they spend little time outside of the optimum efficiency range!

        Honda Civic VX/CX/HX are good examples of this.

        And if you read news reports of cars that have increased fuel economy mid-refresh cycle, 7 times out of 10, they've made the gears longer. 3 times outta 10, they upgraded the engine itself.. :p

        Longer gears are *always* better for fuel economy.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Too bad it gets embarrassing fuel economy for a sport compact...
      And the engine is low tech, compared to the Fiesta..

      Mazda fails again. What's up with Japanese car companies these days?
        • 8 Months Ago
        correction, i don't mean sport compact, i mean subcompact.
      • 8 Months Ago
      "Fuel prices are going to be up over $4, closer to $5 a gallon, so we want to get in before the market gets to that level."

      OK, when? In 2012, 2015, 2020?

      This is like saying "Milk will be $5/gallon". Sure it will get there.......someday.

      This is total speculation and it's grabbing numbers out of the air.
      • 8 Months Ago
      If only the electric Mazda 2 were more affordable (note: Australian prices), wouldn't be having any petrol arguments.

      • 8 Months Ago
      Well... the US is getting the current Mazda2 almost unchanged. I did a review of an 09 model last year... when word was that the US market would likely be getting the Mazda2 with the new engine series and five or six speed automatics. Never happened. Probably just ported over the current model to tide them over till they release the new Mazda2 globally.

      The Fiesta has more power and better EPA numbers, but in real life, the lighter car with the smaller engine will use less fuel in traffic. 0 mph = 0 mpg. The big question is how many gph you use in a situation like that. I'm skeptical about the Fiesta's ratings with the automatic, because nice as the six-speed box is... it's a heavy piece of kit, and that's bound to affect efficiency in stop and go traffic. I've driven the Focus equipped with the same transmission.

      The Mazda2 already gives up the same amount of power and an extra gear to the Honda Fit (and two gears and 100cc of displacement to... say... a Mini Cooper), but the light weight means that it never feels underpowered compared to these two cars. With the Fiesta weighing close to Mini weight, I don't expect it to feel any faster than the Mazda2.
        • 8 Months Ago
        niky; the opposite is true. With Mazda's shorter gearing, in traffic you will be running at higher RPMs. That makes for much worse fuel economy in the city.

        The cars are what, within 100lb of each other? that's not enough difference in weight to tip the scales in either car's favor.

        As for the Mazda2 VS. the Honda Fit, we're talking about what, a 150lb difference? that's not enough to change anything. The Honda Fit has a SOHC motor, and so it's at a disadvantage for torque across the power band, it's also geared for fuel economy.... so of course it's gonna feel a bit slower.

        Yeah, the Mini is heavy. The engine tech makes up for it though.

        But ultimately, the Fiesta and Hyundai Accent will be the winners in the power/efficiency category, both being lighter than the mini, but with more power, and no premium fuel required.. :)
        • 8 Months Ago
        The Fit does NOT have variable valve timing.
        It has cam switching. and you aren't getting good mileage by operating in the 4800-6800 rpm range.

        The Fit lack VVT, but it has external exhaust gas recirculation-for mileage and emissions.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Actually... shorter gearing allows you to get up to speed quicker in traffic and get into your cruising gear earlier. Remember: slow acceleration is not the best way to save fuel.

        The Fit is SOHC , but it's a 16-valve design with variable valve timing. It's not handicapped in terms of anything versus a DOHC engine... what handicaps the Fit is its newfound weight and the long gear ratios Honda uses. In my testing... despite tons of aerodynamic trickery (the Fit is lower to the ground, has underbody spats pushing the air every which way), the longer gearing and the typical Honda smoothness of the engine, the Mazda2, with its cruder box and weaker engine, returned similar economy. Light weight, efficient gearing. Granted, I wasn't driving both at 80 mph the whole time we had them... but that wouldn't change much. For a 5-speed box, the Honda doesn't have a very tall 5th gear.

        Official numbers for the Fiesta put it at being over 200 pounds heavier than the Mazda2, and slightly heavier than the Fit. Some testers have noted it actually feels heavier than the Fit when driven hard.

        Engine tech goes some way towards negating the MINI's weight in terms of economy, I'll give it that. But the weight still colors the driving experience when you compare it to a Mazda2, head-to-head. The only difference is that the MINI's sophisticated multi-link rear end allows BMW to tune for both performance and comfort at the same time. The Mazda2's rear torsion beam has to be tuned stiffer to deliver the same results.
        • 8 Months Ago
        No, shorter gearing negates itself ultimately; for example, with very short lower gears, the car cannot maintain optimal RPM as you constantly speed up and slow down. You end up having to climb RPMs constantly and that's not good. With longer gears, you can stay in the fuel economy zone for longer, while continuing to accelerate.

        DOHC engines have better all-around torque, whereas SOHC, even with variable valve timing, is more of a one-hit wonder. A DOHC motor with dual-VVT on both cams has a cigar-shaped torque curve, which is why i like the Fiesta/Accent motors more than anything else.

        I do believe your claim about the Mazda2. It is not hard to beat Honda in the effeciency/power game at all. The Fit engine may have VVT on the intake cam, but it's not tuned well. I'm betting that the Mazda engine runs at lower RPM since it's DOHC, but has a small disadvantage since it's only got VVT on the intake cam too.

        Either ways, light weight and suspension tuning sound like they benefit the Mazda2, but they really half-assed the engine. That's my beef with it. You know they could do better. Where's the Sky-G motor by now ?

        Fingers crossed that the next generation Hyundai Accent will blow everything out of the water.
      • 8 Months Ago
      It's got really really short gears. Which is a fail on the EPA test, but in everyday driving, if you keep your foot out of it, it's pretty frugal.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Yeah, but the bigger, high tech motor of the Fiesta will make it much more pleasant to drive around town.

        Mazda could be getting better freeway fuel economy, their engine is smaller after all. Apparently even the taller gears are very short; pretty stupid design decision if you ask me.

        I don't know how Mazda is gonna meet CAFE regs.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Rumors are that the new Hyundai Accent will have standard ESC, better mileage (over 40mpg) and have 20 more hp than the Fiesta.
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