By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 10/12/2012
Small cars are big news because today's petrol misers are loaded with style and features never before seen on entry-level models. Long well-regarded overseas for its attractive looks, frugal fuel use and appealing features, the 2013 Mazda2 hatchback is now working its magic on Americans. Although it shares underpinnings with the related Ford Fiesta, the Mazda2 got its own unique powertrain options as well as sportier suspension tuning and a single, 5-door hatchback body (the Fiesta also comes as a sedan). And while some rivals including the Chevy Sonic and Kia Rio 5-Door may offer more horsepower and more modern automatic transmissions, they don't have the same fun-to-drive feel of the light and lithe 2013 Mazda2.You'll Like This Car If...
If you're looking for a small, inexpensive car that is big on fun and fuel economy and has some great exterior colors, the 2013 Mazda2 hatchback should do nicely.You May Not Like This Car If...
If you're looking for a small car with big features such as navigation, leather seats, factory-installed Bluetooth or high-end audio, you'll need to look to the Honda Fit, Ford Fiesta, Hyundai Accent, Chevy Sonic or Kia Rio 5-Door.
The Mazda2 rolls into 2013 with no major changes.Driving It Driving Impressions
While its 100 horsepower won't make the 2013 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. It rounds corners with utter confidence and the little engine, though working hard, delivers acceptable acceleration when needed. The brakes are strong and the steering response recalls that of an MX-5 Miata. 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, the Mazda2 reminds you that its main strength is overall fun and not brute power. Plan your passing maneuvers accordingly.Favorite Features
After hours of driving without soreness, we were impressed with how comfortable the 2013 Mazda2 hatchback's front seats were. Most cars in this category have stiff seats with virtually no side bolstering.
5-SPEED MANUAL TRANSMISSION
Partnered with the willing engine, the slick-shifting 5-speed manual gearbox makes it easy to enjoy the car's natural athleticism.
For such a small car, the 2013 Mazda2 hatchback's interior is refreshingly large and airy. The dash design, with its orange backlighting and a circular center-control motif, recalls Mazda's design past, but we like the look and it definitely works here. The Mazda2's front bucket seats are great but in back, the seat is a little cramped and the head restraints awkwardly positioned. The 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.
While the 2013 Mazda2 hatchback's teardrop silhouette is nothing radical, the lines and curves that flow across the car's body have a trademark Mazda feel. Big fender flares and swept-up side sculpturing add visual interest below the raked beltline, while expansive front-door side windows look airy and provide excellent outward visibility. Following Mazda's latest styling theme, the Mazda2 features a wide, grinning front grille similar to, but less obnoxious than, 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.Notable Standard Equipment
The 2013 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 4-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 sound system. Safety features include stability/traction control, anti-lock disc/drum brakes with Brake Assist and Electronic Brake Force Distribution and six airbags.Notable Optional Equipment
Opting for the Mazda2's up-level Touring trim adds some functional interior features, including cruise control, trip computer, upgraded cloth seats with red piping trim, leather-wrapped steering wheel with integrated 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 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 and a cargo net.Under the Hood
The only engine offered in the 2013 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 transmission. None of that looks particularly impressive on paper, but the Mazda2's light curb weight (only a little over 2300 pounds) helps the powertrain do better than you might expect and contributes to the car's overall sprightliness and nimble response. While the manual transmission would be the top choice for driving fun, the automatic works fine around town and on the freeway.
100 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
98 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 29/35 mpg (manual), 28/34 mpg (automatic)
A base 2013 Mazda2 Sport has a starting Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $15,515. Opting for the automatic transmission adds $840. The higher Touring trim level starts at $17,005 and runs $17,845 with the automatic. As you might guess in a hotly competitive segment, the Mazda2 hatchback costs about the same as the Ford Fiesta, Honda Fit and Nissan Versa and is slightly more expensive than the more utilitarian Toyota Yaris. However, dollar-for-dollar, the Kia Rio 5-Door and Hyundai Accent offer more features and technology for the money. Be sure and check the Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying. As for resale value, we expect the 2013 Mazda2 to hold its value on par with the Kia Rio 5-Door and Toyota Yaris, do a little better than the Ford Fiesta, but fall well below the Honda Fit.