2011 Mazda2 GS
2011 Mazda2 GS. Click image to enlarge
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Mazda Canada

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Review and photos by Jil McIntosh

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2011 Mazda2

The fundamental rule about vehicles is that not one of them, no matter how good, can be all things to all people. The Mazda2, a model all-new to Canada for 2011, isn’t a sports car, no matter how much “zoom-zoom” Mazda likes to inject into its marketing. That said, its combination of sharp handling, quiet ride and several standard features makes this smallest of Mazda models a fine runabout for getting around urban centres.

It’s available in two trim models, the base GX and my tester, the upper-line GS. A third trim line, the Yozora, is an appearance package that’s limited to 500 units and sold in Canada only. At $13,995, the GX is indeed base, requiring an additional $1,195 for air conditioning, and another $895 to add a convenience package that includes heated mirrors, keyless entry, cruise control and other items.

My GS, starting at $18,195, was further equipped with the only available option, an $1,100 four-speed automatic that replaces the default five-speed stick shift. The list of standard features includes a/c, automatic headlamps, sport-style cloth seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and unusual for the segment, rain-sensing windshield wipers.

2011 Mazda2 GS
2011 Mazda2 GS. Click image to enlarge

All Mazda2 models use a 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine that doesn’t look all that impressive on paper: 100 horses and a mere 98 lb-ft of torque, less than any of its subcompact competitors. Its saving grace is its light weight, as little as 1,043 kg for the base GX, which is matched at the scale only by the smaller two-door Toyota Yaris. Even my automatic-equipped tester weighed in at only 1,075 kilos.

2011 Mazda2 GS
2011 Mazda2 GS. Click image to enlarge

The power-to-weight ratio translates into nice, perky acceleration from a stoplight, making it a great little driver for city traffic. The stick shift is a lot more fun overall, of course, but the reality is that most people prefer an automatic – as do I, when my commute involves a lot of other vehicles and many stoplights along the way. Enthusiast drivers will disagree, but I didn’t find any great hardship in taking the Mazda2 sans clutch. With the automatic, the 2 is rated at 7.5 L/100 km (38 mpg Imp) in the city and 6.0 (47) on the highway; in combined driving, I achieved an average of 6.7 (42).

The little engine works really hard when passing at highway speeds, and here, a manual shift mode would be appreciated, especially if it included steering wheel-mounted paddles, so that one could just blip down a gear, get past the obstruction, and then go back to cruising. That said, it would undoubtedly also raise the price, and again, this car is essentially meant to be a city runabout, not a highway hauler.

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