Review and photos by Mike Schlee

Photo Gallery:
2013 MAZDA2 GS

Related articles
Test Drive: 2012 Mazda2 GS
Test Drive: 2012 Honda Fit
Test Drive: 2012 Ford Fiesta SES hatchback
Day-by-Day Review: 2012 Toyota Yaris three-doorManufacturer’s Website
Mazda Canada

Since its introduction in 2010, the Mazda2 has earned a reputation for being a cheeky little subcompact.  Like the Honda Fit, the Mazda2 proves that buying a diminutive car doesn’t necessarily mean you are forced to have diminutive amounts of fun.  Despite its underpowered engine and equally out of date transmission options, the Mazda2 was still a great execution on Mazda’s part.  But, it is now almost three years later and a swarm of newcomers to the subcompact party have arrived, all sporting the latest technology.  Is the Mazda2 now irrelevant in the marketplace?

Test Drive: 2013 Mazda2 GS car test drives mazda
2013 MAZDA2 GS. Click image to enlarge

To find out, I headed up to Mazda Canada and got behind the wheel of a 2013 Mazda2 GS.  Being that this car is frugal and fun to drive, I was delighted to find the five-speed manual transmission gear shifter sticking out of the floorboard on my test vehicle—the best way to maximize both.

For 2013 there are no real big changes to the Mazda2, just a colour swap—Aquatic Blue is out and Clear Water Blue is in.  My GS tester is the top trim available and receives niceties like upgraded cloth seats, cloth door inserts, auto headlights, auto windshield wipers, heated mirrors, fog lights, side skirts, an upgraded stereo, leather-wrapped steering wheel, 15-inch alloy wheels and a rear spoiler.  There are some features strangely absent from the Mazda2 option list though, ones that many of its competitors offer too, like Bluetooth, heated seats, and satellite radio.

Test Drive: 2013 Mazda2 GS car test drives mazda
Test Drive: 2013 Mazda2 GS car test drives mazda
Test Drive: 2013 Mazda2 GS car test drives mazda
2013 MAZDA2 GS. Click image to enlarge

The front seats are comfortable enough and the upgraded dual-cloth seats feel more premium than usually found at this price point. But don’t expect your arms to be too comfortable as there is no centre armrest and the armrests that do exist in the doors are hard and annoying.  Overall, the Mazda2 could do with a slight material quality boost and the missing options added.

Despite these few shortcomings, the interior is otherwise a pleasant place to be.  Sightlines all around are good and there is a distinct lack of intrusive blind spots.  Rear seat space is surprisingly good and legroom is ample.  But the real shocker is that headroom is okay for the average sized person; anyone less than 5’11″ would fit without issue in the back of the Mazda2.  Cargo space is limited, but more usable than the exterior dimensions would suggest; there are 377 L in the hatch.  With the rears seats folded, the load floor is not level, but still affords decent room as cargo space grows to 787 L total.  A nice feature in the cargo area of the Mazda2 is an adjustable rear storage bin that is great for keeping your stuff from sliding around, which is important as throwing this lightweight little 1,051 kg subcompact around is a real treat.

The steering feel in the Mazda2 is pretty good in the grand scheme of things, but exceptional upon remembering this is an entry level vehicle and not a sporty coupe.  Handling is tight, accurate and predictable.  The Mazda2 goes where you want it to when you want it to.  My particular test vehicle had Michelin X-Ice winter tires installed, so no comments on actual levels of grip through the corners can be made.  These soft 185/55R15 tires may have added to the comfortable ride of the 2 as none of the usual short-wheelbase choppiness was present in the Mazda2 considering its size and handling prowess.

Connect with Autos.ca