2011 Mazda Mazda2 Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2011 Mazda Mazda2 was new.


Performance: 8.9

Most test drivers like the Mazda2. They say it’s a hoot to drive and is great whether you’re cruising in the city or on the highway. Others say that the Mazda2’s average fuel economy ratings and fun -- but slow -- performance don’t add up. They suggest buying a car like the Ford Fiesta that’s cheaper and more fun to drive with higher fuel economy ratings.

  • "All the stuff that makes you stop, go and turn is really well-tuned. The car feels like a unified machine, ready to zip wherever you want it to in the city." -- Cars.com
  • "So, yeah, the Mazda2 Touring is 'peppy' and 'zippy.' It also has decent handling, thanks to a well-conceived four-wheel independent suspension. But it's not 'zoom-zoom,' Mazda's trademarked performance brag." -- The Washington Post
  • "The 2 is a hoot to drive." -- Car and Driver
  • "Mazda's new entry-level car succeeds as a refined, fun-to-drive hatchback, with a cabin ambiance that belies its price." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Less weight gives the Mazda 2 agile responses and makes it entertaining to drive, but doesn't offset the meager output of the car's engine and doesn't translate into anything more than competitive fuel economy." -- Edmunds

Acceleration and Power

The 2011 Mazda2 has a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 100 horsepower. A five-speed manual transmission is standard and a four-speed automatic is available.

According to the EPA, drivers who choose the five-speed manual transmission will average 29/35 mpg city/highway, while drivers who select the automatic will get 27/33 mpg. Reviewers prefer the manual transmission because it’s more fun to drive.

  • "Also, I prefer the manual; I like the way its lever juts from the center console at a jaunty angle. The automatic could occasionally find itself in buzzy modes that probed my definition of just slightly raucous enthusiasm." -- Road and Track
  • "We drove both transmissions, and while we definitely prefer the manual with its nicely executed shifter and easy to modulate if somewhat vague clutch, the four-speed slushbox isn't as ancient-feeling or out of place as you might think." -- Autoblog

Handling and Braking

Test drivers approve of the electric power steering system in the Mazda2. It’s precise and responsive, which isn’t common on other affordable small cars with electrically assisted power steering. Braking is good. Test divers say it’s easy to know how hard to press the pedal to stop at a safe distance.

Reviewers also say the Mazda2's suspension handles most bumps in the road well, making the it a great highway and city cruiser.

  • "More impressive is the spot-on steering and chassis setup, which are quick to react to your inputs with a ride that won't beat on you. It's all very entertaining." -- AutoWeek
  • "The same can be said for the brakes: Instead of a mushy pedal, it gave me the right amount of feedback to judge how hard I needed to press the pedal to stop. There isn't a lot of effort required, mind you, but the brakes are easy to get a feel for. It cornered well, too, even in the tight confines of Chicago." -- Cars.com
  • "Firm as you might expect from a Mazda, but the 2 exhibits good overall bump absorption. A subcompact-typical wheelbase leads to some hobby-horse pitching and unwanted side-to-side motions. They're never excessive, and the 2 is a solid highway cruiser." -- Consumer Guide

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