Reviews

2012 Mazda 2 Walk Around

The styling is fresh, and it's eye-catching in a cute sort of way. With the grinning toothless grille, this couldn't be anything but a Mazda, mimicking the Mazda3, as well as the Mazda5, 6, 8, CX-7, and CX-9 in its front and rear layouts.

Mazda2 presents a soft wedge shape with trimmed corners, sweet hatchback slope, and a nice 0.31 coefficient of drag. Also sporty sculpted sides, body-colored door handles, a laid-back windshield, and jaunty little spoiler and foglamps on the Touring model. The grille isn't loved by everyone, but it is distinctive, which isn't easy to do considering there's no grille work. The hood, fenders, headlamps, bumper, air intakes and 15-inch wheels are all well done, adding character.

The halogen headlamp units flow from the gentle bulge of the front fenders. A wide upswept character line climbs back and up from the front wheel wells.

Interior

The seats are comfortable and supportive, just what they should be for a car like this, with a rugged and sporty fabric that Mazda calls mostly black canvas, with cool red piping on the Touring model. The three-spoke steering wheel works well, with a meaty rim that makes the Mazda2 feel like a sports car, and a padded hub. We think it might look better without all that aluminumy plastic trim on the wide spokes, but no big deal. It tilts for adjustment, and the driver's seat raises and lowers, so almost anyone can find a good place behind the wheel.

What we call aluminumy plastic Mazda calls silver garnish, and there's more of it on the vents, armrests, shift knob and gate, where it looks good in sparing doses.

The shifter, manual or automatic, rises from just below the instrument panel where the center console would be if there was one. There's a console with storage tray and cupholders that goes between the seats, with an optional leather padded armrest that we found nice to have. It's no stretch at all to shift gears. The 5-speed stick is easy to reach and fun to use.

The dashboard flows in a continuous line and curves away from occupants, making the cabin feel wide. Certainly there's lots of elbow room. Mazda engineers worked carefully on the position and cross-sectional shape of the A-pillars, which along with a low beltline enable clear forward visibility and also help the car feel roomy.

The cluster of three gauges in front of the driver's eyes is shaded by an eave, with the speedo in center, smaller tach on the left, and the rest in one gauge on the right. In the center of dashboard there's a large round binnacle with sound system information, a CD slot, and three dials for the climate control. But no USB port. The Touring model has audio controls on the steering wheel, but they're easy to reach on the dash panel of the Sport.

Rear seat legroom is slim; only the Ford Fiesta has less. Cargo capacity is 13.3 cubic feet behind the 60/40 split folding second seat, and 27.8 cubic feet with the second seat folded flat. Hatchbacks with fold-flat rear seats are the best value out there, to carry a lot without spending a lot.

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