Test Drive: 2012 Mazda2 GS car test drives reviews mazda
2012 Mazda2 GS. Click image to enlarge

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Manufacturer’s web site
Mazda Canada

Review and photos by Greg Wilson

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2012 Mazda2

Mazda’s smallest car, the Mazda2, first went on sale in Canada in the middle of 2010 as a 2011 model, about the same time as the Ford Fiesta hatchback which has the same platform and similar styling but a different engine, automatic transmission and interior. The Mazda2’s Canadian introduction coincided with a refresh of the third-generation Mazda2 which had been on sale in Europe and Japan since 2007 and was named World Car of the Year in 2008.

For 2012, the only change to the Mazda2 is a slight improvement in fuel economy when fitted with the optional 4-speed automatic transmission. City/Hwy ratings are now 7.1/5.8 L/100 km (40/49 mpg Imperial) improved from 7.5/6.0 L/100 km (38/47 mpg Imp.).

The 2012 Mazda2 continues to be offered in two trim levels, GX ($14,095) and GS ($18,195). The inexpensive base model includes such standard features as five-speed manual transmission, power windows with driver’s automatic up and down, power door locks, power mirrors, 60/40 split folding rear seatbacks, AM/FM/CD stereo with 2 speakers, auxiliary audio input, a height-adjustable driver’s seat, tilt steering wheel, 15-inch tires and steel wheels, anti-lock brakes, stability control and six airbags. Air conditioning is available as a $1,195 option and a Convenience Package that includes cruise control, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, two additional speakers, outside temperature gauge, trip computer, keyless entry, and body-coloured door handles and mirrors goes for $895.

Test Drive: 2012 Mazda2 GS car test drives reviews mazda
2012 Mazda2 GS. Click image to enlarge

However, if you want alloy wheels, fog lights, rain-sensing wipers, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and upgraded cloth seat upholstery, you have to move up to the GS trim. The Mazda2 GS includes all of those things, plus body-coloured door handles and mirrors, chrome tailpipe tip, side sills, body-coloured rear spoiler, air conditioning, steering wheel audio controls, sporty cloth seats with red piping, cruise control, keyless entry, trip computer, exterior temperature gauge, silver interior trim, and six speakers. The only option is the 4-speed automatic transmission for $1,150.

Our test car this week is a “Spirited Green” 2012 Mazda2 GS with the optional automatic transmission. The price as tested came to $20,940 including a $1,495 Freight charge and $100 federal air conditioning levy.

Competitors for the Mazda2 GS ($18,195) include the Toyota Yaris SE ($18,990), Honda Fit Sport ($18,780), Hyundai Accent GLS ($17,199), Kia Rio5 EX ($16,995), Ford Fiesta SES ($18,999) and Chevrolet Sonic LT ($17,495). Standard equipment varies slightly, but in general the Mazda2 GS lags behind its competitors. For example, the Hyundai Accent GLS and Kia Rio EX are priced lower, but come with a standard sunroof, heated front seats, centre armrest, leather shift knob, and satellite radio – features that the Mazda2 doesn’t offer. As well, most of the Mazda2’s competitors have standard 16-inch tires, while the Mazda2 has 15-inchers. The thing that irks us the most is that the Mazda2 GS doesn’t offer Bluetooth hands-free phone or a telescoping steering wheel, while most of its competitors do.
On the positive side, the Mazda2 has a nicely-finished interior with an attractive instrument panel, bright gauges, silver trim around the shift lever, gauges, and air vents, high-quality fabric seats with red piping, and fabric door inserts. Notable interior features include one-touch up and down front windows, variable intermittent wipers, exterior temperature gauge, rain sensing wipers, and variable intermittent rear wiper with a heated park position.

Test Drive: 2012 Mazda2 GS car test drives reviews mazda
Test Drive: 2012 Mazda2 GS car test drives reviews mazda
2012 Mazda2 GS. Click image to enlarge

The Mazda2’s cabin is a smaller than many of its competitors but not to the point of being cramped. Passenger volume (2,466 litres) is less than the Fit, Accent, Rio and Sonic, but larger than the Fiesta and Yaris. Still, the Mazda2 has four large doors that make getting in and out easy, and there is room for four adults of average size. “Sitting behind myself” in the rear seat, I found my knees touching the front seatback, but headroom was okay.

The driver’s seat has a manual height adjuster and I found it comfortable during a week of mostly city driving. In the GS, the small leather-wrapped three-spoke steering wheel includes controls for audio and trip computer on the left spoke and cruise control on the right. As mentioned, it tilts up and down but doesn’t telescopic in and out.

The gauge cluster includes a large central speedometer and a smaller tachometer on the left, and a trip computer display on the right with a fuel gauge, gear indicator and odometer. In the trip computer, the driver can scroll between outside temperature, average fuel economy, instant fuel economy, and average speed. The only drawback is that the LCD is not easy to read.

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