2013 Mazda2 New Car Test Drive
The Mazda2 is a five-seat hatchback, a front-wheel-drive subcompact with fresh, eye-catching style. Launched in the U.S. as a 2011 model, Mazda2 has been an award-winning car in Europe and Asia for some time now.
A soft wedge shape defines the Mazda2. It's bold and sporty with sculpted sides, body-colored door handles, a laid-back windshield, sloped hatch and a jaunty little spoiler on the Touring model. There's a big grinning front grille and an attractive hood, fenders, headlamps, bumper, air intakes and 15-inch wheels.
New for 2013 is a USB port for the Mazda2's standard audio system, the absence of which we bemoaned previously. Otherwise, the 2013 Mazda2 carries over unchanged from 2012.
The Mazda2 uses a proven 1.5-liter double-overhead-cam 16-valve four-cylinder engine with variable valve timing to give it more flexibility in delivering low-rpm torque and high-rpm horsepower. It's paired with either a 5-speed manual or a 4-speed automatic transmission.
In pursuit of good gas mileage, acceleration and responsive handling, Mazda focused on keeping the car light, by using high-strength steel with more welds (and less steel overall), and weld-bonded adhesives in the body. Engineers looked for dozens of places to save a few pounds, for example the wiring harness, door locks and latches, radiator, automatic transmission shifter, pedals, stereo speakers.
As a result, the 2013 Mazda2 is the lightest subcompact sold in America, even lighter than the smaller Fiat 500, and way lighter than the Ford Fiesta, although the Toyota Yaris is a close second.
Although it's not necessarily powerful, the Mazda2's 100 horsepower and 98 pound-feet of torque is plenty for everyday driving, and its svelte 2306-pound curb weight helps it to achieve an EPA-estimated 29/35 mpg City/Highway with the manual gearbox and 28/34 mpg with the automatic.
But mostly, the Mazda2 is way fun to drive. Shifting the manual 5-speed is slick and easy. Brakes and steering are responsive. It rides smoothly and its small footprint makes it easy to maneuver and park in city traffic.
Seats are comfortable and supportive, and we liked the thick, sporty steering wheel. The Mazda2 is relatively roomy for four. Although rated as a five-seater, we wouldn't subject a fifth person to the back seat for long, but that's no different than any other car in this class. Fold the rear seats down and it offers an excellent 27.8 cubic feet of cargo space, with easy access through the hatchback.
Accessories for the 2013 Mazda2 are geared toward weekend warriors and include a roof rack, roof basket, interior cargo box, bike rack, ski rack, snowboard rack, surfboard rack, and kayak carrier.
Competitors to the 2013 Mazda2 are numerous, and include other small hatchbacks: Chevrolet Sonic, Ford Fiesta, Toyota Yaris, Nissan Versa, Honda Fit, Hyundai Accent and Kia Soul. All of these, with the exception of the Fiesta, beat the Mazda2 on rear legroom. The Fiesta offers similarly sporty driving dynamics. The Sonic is also available with a more powerful, turbocharged engine.
The 2013 Mazda2 is available in two trims: Sport and Touring. All use a 1.5-liter inline-4 engine that makes 100 hp and 98 lb.ft. of torque. Both can be equipped with a 5-speed manual or a 4-speed automatic transmission.
2013 Mazda2 Sport manual ($14,720) and automatic ($15,560) models come standard with cloth upholstery, air conditioning, tilt steering wheel, reclining front bucket seats with six-way manually adjustable driver's seat, 60/40 split folding rear seats, remote keyless entry, power windows, power mirrors, power door locks, a four-speaker audio system with CD player, USB port and auxiliary audio jack and 15-inch steel wheels.
2013 Mazda2 Touring manual ($16,210) and automatic ($17,050) variants get upgraded cloth upholstery with red piping, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, cruise control, a trip computer, a six-speaker audio system, rear roof spoiler, fog lamps, chrome exhaust tips and 15-inch alloy wheels.
Options include auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass and Homelink ($295), white pearl paint ($200). Bluetooth wireless for hands-free cellphone operation ($95) is available, also a rear bumper guard ($80), cargo net ($40), center console with armrest ($170). Accessories include a bike rack, a roof rack, a roof basket, an interior cargo box, side sill extensions, ski rack, snowboard rack, surfboard rack, and a kayak carrier.
Safety equipment includes frontal airbags, side-impact and side curtain air bags, stability control, traction control, front disc brakes and rear drum brakes with ABS, Electronic Brake-force Distribution and Brake Assist.