Review: the 2013 Mazda 2 is a peppy companion

2013 Mazda 2

Sub-Compact is no longer sub-par, at least in the case of the 2013 Mazda 2. Mazda’s attempts to add sportiness to every car in the lineup is a huge task, but let’s start at the bottom and see if the performance permeates. First off, the styling is a rather nice mix of creases and curves. It won’t turn heads, but it will get smiles. This is not a bad looking car, but you can’t help but think that it would look even better with a foot of two more of length. Inside and out, the car is well finished.  They focused on the details in places where other automakers overlook with a smattering of plastic.

Driving the car gives you a feeling of substance. This isn’t just some thrown together car to fill a segment gap, the Mazda 2 is a well thought out car. The interior exudes quality that is surprising at this price point. The seats in our test car had a nice quilted pattern and were hewn from a nylon-like material that is grippy and supportive. They keep you planted on those days you want to play race car driver on your way to work.  The center stack (affectionately referred to as “the bubble”) is well laid out with controls that are easy-to-operate at speed.

mazda2intWhile on the subject of speed, let’s just say that the Mazda 2 is “peppy”. It has a sporty feel much more exciting to drive than its closest rival, the Ford Festiva, but pulling out in front of that 18-wheeler on a split second lane change is not recommended. With 100 horsepower coming from a 1.5 liter four, it is weaker in power but stronger in feel. You won’t be ripping up asphalt, but you will feel like it. Fuel economy is this car’s reason for being but it’s average of 29 city / 34 highway are not class leading and far from the numbers of a Honda Fit. Taking a drive in changing Midwest weather afforded me the pleasure of feeling the car’s surprisingly good stability, thanks to Traction Control.. The car felt stable right up to about 75 miles per hour (don’t judge me) where it seemed to struggle as if it were asking “are you sure?” before proceeding. I spent my entire time with the car pleasantly surprised by its comfort and value. This is a nice car for someone starting out in adulthood or just needing a city car to commute.

The deal-breaker list is topped by size. In a country where room is everything, this car is small. The back seat is tight and not all that comfortable, particularly for a journey of any distance. Thank goodness I was in the 4-door model.  Upon entry, a six-footer would kindly ask for seat controls immediately.  The cargo room is disappointing for a hatchback. Good for trinkets, but serious grocery shoppers need look elsewhere. Finally, although it’s well designed, the cabin is Spartan. Some of the modern tech and comfort features are only available in higher trim levels.  You soon run out of features to play with on a trip of more than 100 miles.


In review, the Mazda 2 and it’s $15,325 price of admission  and near-$18,000 cost for the top-of-the-line Touring model  make you wonder why you  didn’t just pony up a few more bucks for a Mazda 3 or check out a comparably-equipped Chevy Spark, Honda Fit or Hyundai Accent. With so many choices out there in this growing segment, the Mazda 2 is a solid car, but doesn’t stand out as an overwhelming value.

On the TFLcar scale of:

  • Buy it!
  • Lease it!
  • Rent it!
  • … or Forget it!

I give it a Rent it! 

It’s not that the Mazda 2 is a bad car, it’s actually quite impressive for the segment. Having the price orbit more substantial cars, like the Mazda 3, make a more logical purchase.

Speaking of Mazda, check out this fun Mazda CX-9 video!