A cleverly crafted automobile with a unique body design infused with Mazda’s ‘fun to drive’ engineering philosophy…

Mazda’s first foray into the Canadian sub-compact market segment was the 2011 Mazda2, an inexpensive little car that exceeds the quality expectations of most buyers.

It was launched in Europe, Japan and Australia in 2007 and won 48 automotive awards – including “2008 World Car of the Year” – prior to its arrival in Canada.

Mazda2 comes in just one body style, a four-door hatchback.

Considering its diminutive proportions, that’s a lot of doors and “easy access” is a big part of this small car’s charm. The trim lines offered were GX, GS, and a top-priced Yozora edition, which was not sold in the U.S. and limited to 500 units in Canada.

The GS trim upgrade includes air conditioning, automatic headlamps, cruise control, rain-sensing wipers, keyless entry, trip computer, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, cloth door trim, sport-style cloth seats with red piping, body-colour door handles and mirrors, chrome tailpipe finisher, side sill extensions, body-colour rear spoiler, exterior temperature gauge, fog lights, silver finish interior accents, and six speakers.

The Yozora, which means “night sky” in Japanese, is actually a GX trim with air conditioning and a convenience package. Unique theme additions include its black exterior finish with decals, a spoiler, a chrome tailpipe, floor mats and 16-inch alloy wheels with performance tires. The Yozora package also came with a spare set of winter tires mounted on 15-inch steel wheels.

Power is provided by a 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine linked to either a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission. The small gas engine’s 100-horspower output may sound meek, however, it can move the light-weight Mazda2 surprisingly quick.

It’s a silky, smooth free-revving little engine that also sounds a nice sporty rasp from its exhaust at high engine speeds.

While there’s nothing wrong with the four-speed automatic transmission, there is a noticeable decrease in overall performance, plus an increase in fuel consumption. The manual can get 6.8 L/100 km in the city and 5.6 L/100 km on the highway. The automatic is rated at 7.5 L/100 km in the city and 6.0 L/100 km on the highway.

Driver sight lines in the Mazda2 are particularly impressive. Its big side mirrors are more visible due to a lowered window belt line at the A-pillar and the low-cut design of the rear window also aids rear vision when backing-up. In addition, Mazda uses overlapping shingle-style rear seat head restraints to allow the driver an unobstructed view out the extra large rear window.

The Mazda2 was unchanged for 2012, except for a minor improvement in fuel efficiency with the four-speed automatic transmission and the deletion of the Yozora edition. The 2013 edition came with a new USB audio input as standard equipment, but otherwise there were no significant changes.

It’s not a big seller in the U.S. so Consumer Reports owner feedback is incomplete, however the reliability ratings for Mazda2 have generally been better than average.

Crash safety ratings are a mixed bag, although the overall rating is good, both side and rear impact results were less than perfect. As you might expect, being small and light is not an advantage when the other vehicle in an impact is big and heavy.

Not just another fuel-efficient little commuter car, Mazda2 is a cleverly crafted automobile with a unique body design infused with Mazda’s “fun to drive” engineering philosophy.

Price Check: 2011 – 2013 Mazda2 (April 2014)

Year                    Edition                                                 Expect to Pay Today

2011                   GS auto                                                      $9,000 to $12,000

2012                   GS auto                                                     $11,000 to $14,000

2013                   GS auto                                                     $13,500 to $16,500

Prices vary depending on a used vehicle’s condition, mileage, usage and history. A complete mechanical check should always be performed by a reliable auto technician prior to purchase.

Safety Recalls: 2011 to 2013 Mazda2:

There were no safety recalls on the 2011 to 2013 Mazda2.

Contact: bob [dot] mchugh [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

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