Thanks to Tim Plouff for filling us in on the details surrounding the New England debut of the Mazda2. Read his recap below.
Brookline, Massachusetts-The Lars Andersen Museum once again played host to the New England debut of another new car recently, as our friends at Mazda invited the NEMPA scribes for an evening review of the all-new Mazda 2 subcompact hatchback.
Hedging its bet on future small-car segment growth-Mazda execs predicted first year sales of only 15,000-units-the new ‘2′ must forge a path in a suddenly competitive class of sub-compact, or ‘B’ model, cars.
Accompanying John Paul for a circuitous route around Brookline, okay, we temporarily got “lost”, we got to sample the ‘2’s’ capabilities right at the heart of rush-hour traffic.
Using a 100-hp 1.5-liter four cylinder engine mated with a 5-speed manual transmission, the 2,300-pound Mazda was spirited enough to keep up with the light-to-light dash. Steering feel is precise and quick and the car’s diminutive dimensions give drivers ample opportunity to skirt traffic obstacles that hinder other vehicles. From just a few minutes aboard, the new ‘2′ seemed to possess some of the responsive Mazda driving DNA that is inherent to several other popular offerings.
The cabin had a pleasant combination of features and material textures that belied its humble origins. We knew that we were in a compact class car, but it certainly didn’t feel like a penalty.
Passenger space suited our adult physiques up front, while rear seating provides further accommodations for most adults. A split rear seatback improves cargo flexibility however the folded seatbacks do not create a flat load deck.
The debate on the virtue of these smaller vehicles, long a mainstay of both Asian and European driving fleets, is how many American drivers will embrace these cars if gasoline prices remain constant. We know fuel costs will rise at some point; so many manufacturers are adding new ‘B’ class models in preparation for the next price spike. Will buyers use a new measuring stick to gauge fuel economy happiness, and if so, will the Mazda 2 meet their expectations?
Yet, profit margins are low at this end of the automotive spectrum, even if the retail prices climb to the higher levels that reflect new-found content and amenities. Add more players, as well as a stellar Mazda 3 series, and the Mazda 2 faces an uphill climb for market share as well as recognition.
The car has got the mojo to incite the consumer; will the market factors help Mazda close the sale?
Text: Tim Plouff | Photo – Zane Merva