Fat guy in a little car: Nathan reviews the 2011 Mazda 2 & pronounces it a fun ride


History may figure out that why a stocky, gluttonous moose like me has such a fondness for small cars. Sure, folks like speedy small cars – but what about the itty-bitty ones that are slow? Can economical, clean, ecologically prudent cars provide fun?

Yes and no.

If the little car has spirit, soul or a personality – then, yes, it can be a blast. Fortunately the 2011 Mazda 2 is an outstanding little car with lots of spirit, soul and personality.


This is the ONLY car in the Mazda fleet that can wear the silly grin of its corporate identity with pride. Cars like the Mini Cooper, VW Bug and upcoming FIAT 500 are as cuddly externally as the Mazda 2. Internally, the Mazda 2 is a bit bland, but it is well designed.

Everything is at hand and despite the seat’s small size, it held my bulk comfortably. Back seat comfort is a tad tight, but useable for average sized people. My little one’s baby seat fits, but at the loss of any chance of adding two adults. Trunk space is tight and when the rear seats are folded, the load floor is not flat as the seats make a large bump.

If cargo space is important, look at the Honda Fit or a five-door Nissan Versa. But, if you want a chuckable, fun to drive economy car – the Mazda 2 is the way to go.


When you drive through a corner in the Mazda 2, you actually feel the tiny front wheels bite into the turn. As you accelerate out of the corner the Mazda 2’s 98-inch wheelbase telegraphs information from all four wheels whenever quick motions are called upon. Brakes are tight, but you rarely need them if you drive with the excellent five-speed manual.

I took one corner overcooking the speed and expected to plow past the corner in terminal under-steer. I didn’t. The Mazda 2 was feisty and held the corner with a tiny bit of body lean. Yup, it’s mighty good on the corners. What impressed me further was the impressive ride the Mazda 2 provides on highways. It’s no BMW 7-Series, but it’s nearly as good as the excellent Ford Fiesta (BTW, they share a platform with the Fiesta being a bigger, more powerful machine).


The only thing that holds the Mazda 2 back is a 0 to 60 time of 9.7-seconds (measured at over 5,200 feet with the manual transmission).

Here’s what you need to know:

• Entry price for the base model “Sport” is $14,180.

• The 2011 Mazda 2 gets 29 mpg city/ 35 mpg highway (manual) and 27 mpg city / 33 mpg highway (automatic). That’s respectable, but not amazing.

• Power? There’s not a lot. The tiny 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine makes 100 horsepower and 98 lbs-feet of torque.

• On the plus side, the Mazda 2 weighs about 2,300 lbs.

• There is a five-speed manual (the one you want) and four-speed automatic (avoid if you can).


Options are few and the only package available is the “Touring” model which adds:

• Halogen fog lights

• Cruise control

• AM/FM/CD stereo with auxiliary-audio input jack and 6 speakers

• Trip computer

• 15-inch alloy wheels

• Rear spoiler

• Chrome exhaust tip

• Cloth-trimmed seats with red piping

• Leather-wrapped steering wheel

• Steering-wheel-mounted audio controls


I like this car and despite its tepid engine, I would not hesitate to use one for a commuter. Every person who has asked me about fuel efficient vehicles gets the same reply when “fun” is added to the question, “Check out the Mazda 2 if you want a fun ride.”

Nathan Automotive media, racing, vehicle evaluation, wrecking yards, and car sales are just a part of Nathan Adlen’s vehicular past. He writes out of high octane passion! To read more reviews by Nathan Adlen or just to enjoy more of excellent writing please visit him on at his examiner.com page HERE.


Fat guy in a little car: Nathan reviews the 2011 Mazda 2 & pronounces it a fun ride

If you like Mazda you may also like the equally small Ford Fiesta. Check out our video review below:

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