2011 Mazda 2 Review

Front 3/4 view of green 2011 Mazda 2
The 2011 Mazda 2 comes in a lot of colors. But this is the one you'll see most.

When was the last time you had your internal fun-meter pegged (we reserve the right to edit comments posted to TireKicker-Ed.)?  As in "12" on a scale of 10?

The Mazda 2 will do just that...it had us grinning about as big as the car itself does with the Mazda trademark smile up front.

If you haven't driven it, the temptation is to lump it in with the Ford Fiesta, another member of the mini-car freshman class of 2011...but while the Fiesta is a fine car, where the Mazda wins is in sheer fun at the wheel.

Rear 3/4 view of 2011 Mazda 2
Rear view of the 2011 Mazda 2...promising fun and utility.

There's a difference between speed and power (which, with 100 horsepower and 88 pounds per foot of  torque, the 2 doesn't have tons of) and fun. This little puppy begs to be revved high and driven like you mean it. It's a slot car..find the right gear, a winding road and prepare to be entertained despite the low horsepower rating.

How'd they do that? Well, it's not new to Mazda. MX-5 Miatas aren't powerhouses either, but for more than 20 years, they've been one of the most entertaining cars to drive because of their eagerness to rev and their handling capabilities...essentially the same formula as the MGs and Triumphs of the 50s and 60s.

Interior shot of 2011 Mazda 2
The businesslike instrument panel of the 2011 Mazda 2.

The price is pretty sweet, too. A base of $16,235, which includes a tilt leather steering wheel with cruise and audio controls on it, power door locks and windows, remote keyless entry, air conditioning, floor mats, an AM/FM/CD/mp3 audio system with auxilary input jack, a trip computer, ABS with brake assist, an anti-theft immobilizer, a tire pressure monitoring system, dynamic stability control and traction control, and front and side airbags and curtains.

And just to drive the point home that that's everything you need, that's exactly how Mazda sent the test vehicle...not a single option. Tack on delivery charges and the bottom line is $16,985. Leaves lots of money in your pocket for dues at your local autocross club (or to start your own), as does the EPA estimate of 27 city/33 highway.

Very low bucks...very high fun quotient. You can look responsible and socially concious by driving a small car and then go carve canyons on the weekend (or on unnaturally long runs to the store).

The 2....is a 10.