By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.1
Small cars are big news these days. Not because they are small, but because today's economical petrol misers are loaded with style and features never before seen on entry-level models. The 2012 Mazda2 hatchback is just such a car. Long regarded overseas for its attractive looks, frugal fuel economy and appealing features, the 2012 Mazda2 hatchback is now working its magic on Americans. Although the 2012 Mazda2 shares its underpinnings with the equally-new Ford Fiesta, Mazda gave its little car its own unique powertrain options, as well as a sportier suspension and a single, 5-door hatchback design (the Fiesta offers a sedan and 5-door). And, while some rivals, including the Chevy Sonic and Kia Rio5, may offer more horsepower and more modern automatic transmissions, they don't have the same fun-to-drive feel of the 2012 Mazda2.
If you're looking for a small, inexpensive car that is big on fun and fuel economy and has some great exterior colors, the 2012 Mazda2 hatchback should do nicely.
Other than a one-mile-per-gallon increase in fuel economy, there are no major changes for the 2012 Mazda2 hatchback.
Driving Impressions While its 100-horsepower won't make the 2012 Mazda2 hatchback the quickest car in its class, its well-tuned suspension and direct power-assisted steering deliver on the "Zoom-Zoom" promise of this 2,300-pound...car. We spent the day pushing the little Mazda2 through its paces and came away scratching our heads: How can such a small car with such limited horsepower have us giggling like mischievous school children up to no good? On winding mountain roads, we pushed the little 15-inch tires well beyond what we thought they could take, but they held firm. Our 2012 Mazda2 rounded corners with utter confidence and the little engine, though working hard, delivered acceptable acceleration when needed. The brakes are strong and the steering response is nearly MX-5-Miata-like (note – we said "nearly"). All of this lightness doesn't mean a compromise in comfort, though, as the Mazda2's cabin is surprisingly quiet even at highway speeds. But, when tasked with rapid overtaking of slower traffic or quick sprints up steep hills, we were quick to realize that the Mazda2's main strength is driving fun and not brute power. Plan your passing maneuvers accordingly.
After hours of driving and no soreness to complain about, we were surprised at how comfortable the 2012 Mazda2 hatchback's seats were. Most cars in this category have stiff seats with virtually no bolstering.
5-speed Manual Transmission
Partnered up with the peppy engine, the slick-shifting 5-speed manual makes the most out of the car's athleticism.
For such a small car, the 2012 Mazda2 hatchback's interior is refreshingly large and airy. The dash design, with its bright orange backlighting and a circular center control motif, is a remnant from Mazda's design past, mimicking the dash designs of the now-discontinued RX-8. However, we like the look and it definitely works here. At this price point, one can forgive the hard plastics and dull colors, so long as one doesn't peek inside a Kia Rio5 or Ford Fiesta. The 2012 Mazda2 hatchback's front bucket seats are firm and fairly supportive, but the oddly-shaped rear-seat head restraints must be extended upward or run the risk of becoming uncomfortable lumps in the shoulder blades of rear-seat passengers. The 2012 Mazda2 hatchback's cargo area isn't as generous as that of the Nissan Versa or Honda Fit. Folding down the 60/40-split rear seat increases cargo volume from 13.3 cubic feet to just over 27 cubic feet.Exterior
While the 2012 Mazda2 hatchback's teardrop silhouette is nothing radical, the lines and curvatures that flow across the car's body have a distinctly Mazda feel. Big fender flares and swept-up side sculpturing bring visual interest below the Mazda2's raked beltline, while expansive front-door side windows provide excellent outward visibility. Following Mazda's latest styling theme, the 2012 Mazda2 hatchback features a wide, grinning front grille similar to, but not as obnoxious as, the Mazda3's front end. The entry-level Sport trim comes with 15-inch steel wheels with full covers, while the Touring trim rolls on 15-inch alloy wheels.
The 2012 Mazda2 hatchback's entry-level Sport trim comes with the essentials including air conditioning, power accessories (windows, door locks, and side mirrors), tilt steering column, keyless remote entry and a four-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 sound system. Safety features include stability/traction control, antilock disc/drum brakes with Brake Assist and Electronic Brake Force Distribution and six airbags.
Opting for the up-level 2012 Mazda2 Touring trim adds some functional interior features, including cruise control, trip computer, upgraded cloth seats with red piping trim, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio and cruise controls and two additional speakers. On the outside, the higher trim level includes a rear roof spoiler, fog lights, chrome exhaust tip and alloy wheels. Options are minimal and are limited to dealer-installed accessories such as an auto-dimming rearview mirror with a compass and Homelink, aftermarket Bluetooth phone connectivity, a center armrest with storage bin, floormats, a cargo net and Crystal White paint.
The only engine offered in the 2012 Mazda Mazda2 is a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder that produces 100 horsepower and 98 lb-ft of torque. It can be matched with either a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic. While these are not the most impressive transmission choices, the Mazda2's light curb weight makes up for any shortcomings and contributes to the car's overall sprightliness and nimble response. While the manual transmission would be the top choice for driving fun, we did get a chance to try the automatic and found that it was more-than-capable around town and on the freeway.
1.5-liter in-line four cylinder
100 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
98 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 29/35 (manual), 28/34 (automatic)
By MattP on Friday, January 30, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 6,500overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, Good commuter car, Cheap"
Cons: "Automatic transmission, Cargo space"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5
"I though some folks might appreciate a review / update from someone who's owned this car for a bit. Pros: -Perfect for it's intended use as a single person commuter vehicle, ideally in the city. If that is what you're after. this will do nicely. -Handling is sharp and nimble, good road feel through the steering wheel and pedals. Fun to drive in the city. Cons: -Automatic transmission. In a word, it's sluggish. It feels bogged down when you're pulling out of the driveway, and it feels like it's struggling to keep up at highway speeds. Sweet spot is about 40 mph. After about 3,500mi of driving the noise and vibration from it kicked up noticeably too. Definitely makes me concerned about it's long term reliability. Just get the stick shift and you'll be fine. I wish I did... -Not enough space for tall people It's very close though. I'm 6'1" tall, and I *almost* fit in it with the seat all the way back. My left leg runs out of room though and feels mildly uncomfortable on longer drives. Could use about 2-3 inches more space. If you're over 6 feet tall I would not recommend this car. -4 people + highway speeds not recommended With 4 adults in the car this thing feels overtaxed. I've driven 4 (including myself) on the highway several times and the car just feels like it's straining to maintain speed. The extra weight also makes the handling feel a little twitchy, which is unnerving at that velocity. Road noise levels make normal conversation difficult at highway speeds as well. -Dashboard makes occasional popping sound. I believe this is due to expansion/contraction during hot or cold days. Not terrible, but a little distracting. -Gas mileage is mediocre at best. I've been averaging about 30mpg combined, 60% on the highway. Summary: As I said in the beginning. If you intend to use this as a single person commuter car in the city it'll do just fine. It always feels very nice, even a little sporty at city speeds. If you intend to drive on the highway a lot get the stick shift, it has an extra gear (5 spd) resulting in lower rpms at highway speeds. If you're over 6' tall, don't buy this. If you intend to haul 3 passengers a lot, don't buy this. If cargo room is a concern, I don't think you should probably buy this either. Trunk can barely fit a single full size luggage. I still have fun with this car, but you always have to consider your needs and typical usage when looking at something this tiny. It can be a lot of fun to drive, but there are some definite limits to it's capabilities."
10 people out of 16 found this review helpful
By Jen on Wednesday, October 15, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 12,500overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "great mpg, very very fun to drive,"
Cons: "wish it had more sync technologies like bluetooth"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I absolutely ENJOY driving this Mazda. It is the first Mazda I have owned, and it will not be the last. It is a wonderful value, great engine, and a FUN drive! Plus, excellent gas mileage. You will not be disappointed with a Mazda2."
14 people out of 26 found this review helpful
By Mazda2too on Saturday, August 30, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "gas mileage, fun to drive, very reliable"
Cons: "no clock"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I got this when another car kept having engine problems and I had to get something quickly for not too much money. Being able to park in almost every tight spot is amazing, but also the car is zippy, cute, gets great gas mileage and not everyone has it. I feel lucky to have this car for the price."
12 people out of 19 found this review helpful
By ashok672 on Friday, August 29, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 4,500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "greate price, extremely fun to drive"
Cons: "interior tech features lacking"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I own a CX-5 and I got Mazda2 as a second car for my wife but I started driving this little more than my wife. The handling is amazing and the engine power is good enough for daily commute to office. It wont do good in hilly areas but it is not a concern to me. Amazing value for the price of car. The interior needs lots of improvement. Hopefully the 2016 mazda2 announced recently addresses those issues."
4 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By brian on Sunday, August 10, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 35,500overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"good car, great on gas -- only car ever owned that beats epa estimates. interior quality leaves something to be desired. Trim is flimsy and tears easily when removed."
4 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By Boo on Wednesday, June 25, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 21,500overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Very Fun to drive at a wonderful price."
Cons: "needs blind spot warnings and arm rests in front s"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I LOVE this car. The turning radius is wonderful, parking is a cinch, and it's a simple car with all the automatic features I require, such as auto door locks, etc."
3 people out of 7 found this review helpful