Based on our recent time here at "Drive He Said" spent with Mazda's new super-mini entry in the U.S., the Mazda2, here is the rough draft of a letter we wanted to address to Mazda:
This is simply to set the record straight. We didn't do it. We are not the guilty ones. Normally not ones to point fingers, someone else did it. We always lower or remove antenna masts before heading into a car wash. We swear that the screw-on roof-mounted radio antenna mast was already torn (as depicted in the above photograph).
Super-mini as it is, the Mazda2 wears the latest flowing, curvy lines handed down from the rest of the Mazda line rather well. We like to think of the Mazda2 less econo-box and more Mazda3-san (son of hot-hatch Mazda3). Out test car's optional ($200) Crystal White Pearl exterior hue was ritzy enough to divert any attention away from the torn roof antenna. Yet the interior definitely resides more in the econo-box realm. The solitary power door lock switch down low on the center console looks like an after-thought likely because it is. Some silver colored-plastic trim bits here and there and pebble grained hard plastics do their bit to break up what would otherwise be interior doldrums. Thanks, Mazda, for the easy-to-see and intuitive-to-operate, if not Vegas-strip flashy, orange day-glo backlit instruments and center stack controls.
The rock-solid Mazda2 chassis accommodates a suspension set up which reduces body roll and provides better ride compliance than cars that weigh almost twice as much (and cost nearly twice as much). Good thing there is enough insulation here to keep the din which the 1.5L four-banger makes over 3500 rpm, (where it makes most of its power), from overcoming cabin conversation and/or sounds from the decent sounding stereo.
The payoff of that motor, thanks to direct injection and and variable valve timing is 28 mpg in an even split of urban/ freeway motoring. Our test car had the optional (but likely to be more common) 4-speed autobox that could hold gears well enough to get the motor into its sweet spot. In our real-world urban/ suburban driving the Mazda2 was at least able to keep up with heavier cars that have 50% more power (and 50% greater weight). Freeway passing, though, requires a brief moment of planning. Even cost cutting / weight saving measures like drum brakes don't stop the ABS fitted 2300 pound Mazda2 from scrubbing off speed with alacricity. The electric steering has the right amount of boost at urban and suburban speeds. But in a fast sweeper hold-on tightly for there is much understeer, likely fostered by the 185 mm wide Bridgestone Blizzak winter tires.
We are still wondering how the optional "Touring Package" is supposed to enhance long-distance touring. For $1500 the adequate for commuting seats get a mere decorative red-piping rather than the kind of lumbar and lateral support needed to make the Mazda2 a long-distance champ. At least there is cruise control. Yes, the radio is upgraded from four speakers to six. Alloy wheels and fog-lights are added come with the package as well. Call us "particular," but we would have preferred slightly more tire and a quicker steering ratio for highway jaunts. For an as-tested price closing in on $17,000 we wouldn't have minded Bluetooth connectivity and an arm rest. Some felt material at the top of the door window travel would eliminate the abrupt banging of the windows closed. Our left feet were searching for a dead-pedal; alas none was to be found.
The Mazda2 will accommodate 4 in relative comfort (though any 6+ footers in the back may have to splay their knees a bit to fit). Yet the limited luggage space under the hatch would restrict those 4 occupants to the in-town type of touring.
We do hope you folks at Mazda forgive the un-named soul who forgot to remove the poor roof antenna at the wash.
Your Zoom, Zoom, Zoomers at