2011 Mazda2 – Click above for high-res image gallery

We're big fans of the 2011 Mazda2, but of all the good things this little hatch has going for it, fuel economy isn't really one of them. Manual transmission models offer 29/35 miles per gallon city/highway, and while that isn't terrible by any means, it's sub-par when you consider the new standard for B- and C-segment cars: 40 mpg.

With the next-generation 2, Mazda plans to completely overhaul the powertrain, using its new SKYACTIV engine and transmission technology. The result is a Mazda2 that the automaker says will achieve 70 mpg without the help of an electric motor, making it the most fuel-efficient gas-powered car on the road.

The next Mazda2 will launch in Japan sometime in the first half of 2011 and will quickly make its way to other markets over the next few years. The 2 may be an all-new entry to the United States, but it's merely a mid-cycle refresh of the car that's been on sale overseas for years. We're certainly eager to see what the Japanese automaker has up its sleeve, and while 70 mpg is indeed a lofty goal, it isn't too far fetched these days.

Photos copyright ©2010 Steven J. Ewing / AOL

[Source: Reuters]

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