2012 Mazda Mazda2 Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2012 Mazda Mazda2 was new.


Performance: 8.8

Though some reviewers say the 2012 Mazda is a thrill to drive and is great whether you’re cruising in the city or on the highway, a minority wishes the Mazda2 was faster.  

  • "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
  • "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 2012 Mazda2 has a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine. A five-speed manual transmission is standard and a four-speed automatic is optional. Despite the Mazda2’s meager 100 horsepower, most reviewers think the Mazda2 has good performance, particularly with the manual transmission. But if you go for the automatic, reviewers say the four-speed, though outdated, has better performance than they expected. 

The EPA has rated the Mazda2, and this petite car’s fuel economy is good, but easily passed by models like the Hyundai Accent and Kia Rio that get up to 40 mpg on the highway. Drivers who choose the Mazda2 with the five-speed manual transmission will average 29/35 mpg city/highway, while drivers who select the automatic will get 28/34 mpg.

  • "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
  • "The manual's shifter throws are a touch long, and the clutch is vague, making it sometimes difficult to launch the car smoothly from a stop. The automatic, despite having just 4 speeds, provides smooth shifts and prompt response." -- Consumer Guide

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 too. Test divers say it’s easy to know how hard to press the pedal to stop at a safe distance.

  • "Among the best in class, 2 stands out for its well-controlled body lean and excellent steering feel. The 2 utilizes an electric power-steering system, which is designed to improve fuel economy. Unlike many rival systems, this Mazda's steering feels very natural, with light effort at low speeds and more road feel on the highway. The brakes deliver short, controlled stops." -- Consumer Guide
  • "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

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