Mazda2 Touring

The Mazda2 embraces the smallness of the B segment with style and sporty dynamics wrapped around an interior that looks and feels of quality rather than cost efficiency. Within this diminutive 5-door hatchback there's room for 5, though the back seats aren't overwhelmingly spacious and are probably best reserved for kids or additional luggage.

Powered by a 100-bhp 1.5-liter inline-4 that revs smoothly and eagerly (dare we say "cutely"?) to its 6300-rpm redline, the 2 can get to 60 mph in 9.4 seconds (quicker than a Ford Fiesta, we might point out), though we ran out of real estate (over a half mile) before we could crack 100 mph.

Being light on power doesn't always equate to boredom as the Mazda2 clearly proves. It weighs in at a lean 2305 lb., which doesn't hurt its cause. Nor docs its solid-shifting 5-speed manual transmission (a 4-speed automatic is an $800 option) and a relatively stiffly sprung suspension, the last delivering crisp response and mouse-like nimbleness without the tin-can acoustics that usually come with economically priced cars. The electric-as-sist power steering provides decent feedback with the natural feel of a hydraulic system. The rear suspension's twist beam is specifically tuned for stability, given the short 98.0-in. wheelbase of the car, so that under load the outside rear wheel will toe-in slightly, which helps keep the car controllable in transitions at speed. This showed through our slalom test with an impressive run of 67.8 mph!

If driving dynamics are your main priority, the Mazda2 may give the Fit fits, and prove the Fiesta to be a siesta!

—Jonathan Elfalan

List price

2011 Mazda2 Touring

$15,435

Price as tested Curb weight tj Engine, transmission 5 Horsepower, bhp|S)rpm £ Torque ib-ft a) rpm 5 0-60 mph

$16,185 23051b

1.5-liter inline-4,5-sp manual 100® 6000 98(3)4000 9.4 sec

§ 0-100 mph ^ 0-1320 tt ffc mile) 3 Top speed ™ Braking, 60-0 mph

Braking, 80-0 mph

1 Lateral accel (200-hskidpad) ! Speed thru 700-ft slalom | Our mileage, EPA city/highway

: * Electronically limited.

241ft 0.83g 67.8 mph 28.6,29/35 mpg

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