A frequent concern with any subcompact car is that it’s at home on low-speed city streets — and nowhere else.
And with just 100 horsepower promised by its 1.5-liter four-cylinder, the 2011 Mazda2 — which recently spent a week with the Autos Examiner — would seem to be particularly ill at ease on an Interstate.
Fortunately, even as the car’s little engine needs to work hard to maintain highway speeds, its labors aren’t clearly conveyed to the driver either in terms of excess noise or greatly increased fuel consumption.
The Mazda2 with the tested five-speed manual transmission has its engine running at around 3,000 rpm at just 65 miles per hour — there are four-cylinders that are as calm as 2,000 rpm at 70 mph — but this doesn’t lead to the din one might expect. Rather, the engine sounds smooth, and while the volume could hardly be called muted, there are certainly noisier subcompacts.
This tiny hatchback also has a more solid, stable feel on the highway than most of its competitors, a trait it shares with its slightly larger Ford Fiesta mechanical cousin. It’s one of the smallest, lightest vehicles on the market, but it doesn’t feel it.
The power is also sufficient for easy highway merging — if you stay in low gears while accelerating — and the car doesn’t struggle up hills.
Read more about the 2011 Mazda2 in the previous posts, and check back for a full review.
Vehicle tested: 2011 Mazda2
Vehicle base price (MSRP): $13,980
Version tested: Touring
Version base price (MSRP): $15,435
Vehicle price as tested (MSRP): $16,185
Odometer reading, beginning of test: 4,412
Odometer reading, end of test: 4,909
Test vehicle provided by: Mazda Motor of America
Length: 155.5 inches
Width: 66.7 inches
Height: 58.1 inches
Wheelbase: 98.0 inches
Weight: 2,359 pounds
Cargo volume behind rear seat: 13.3 cubic feet
Cargo volume behind front seats: 27.8 cubic feet
Turning radius: 16.1 feet
Engine: 1.5-liter I4 with 100 horsepower
Transmission (as tested): 5-speed manual
EPA city mileage: 29 miles per gallon
EPA highway mileage: 35 miles per gallon
EPA combined mileage: 32 miles per gallon
Observed mileage during test: 39.9 miles per gallon
For more information: Mazda website