By Arv Voss, Motor Matters

The 2013 Mazda2 might well be considered "Zoom-Zoom Lightly Concentrated." This small dynamo falls into the subcompact segment.

The Mazda2 is a front-wheel-drive, five-door hatchback offered in two trim levels: Sport ($14,720); and Touring ($16,210). Both models draw their motive power from a 1.5-liter 16-valve inline four-cylinder with VVT and electronically-controlled fuel injection. The four-cylinder motor makes 100 horsepower at 6,000 rpm while generating 98 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,000 rpm. The engine is mated to either a five-speed manual gearbox or an optional four-speed automatic transmission.

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My most recent 2013 test Mazda2 came in Touring trim with the 5-speed manual gearbox. The exterior was sprayed Clear Water Blue metallic, and the interior sported Black patterned seating with Red piping and Charcoal trim elements. The base price was set at $16,210. While the as tested price amounted to $17,600. Available accessories include a rear bumper guard, wheel locks (Touring models only), all-weather floor mats, cargo net, center console with armrest and auto-dimming rear view mirror with compass, HomeLink and orange back-lit buttons.

The Mazda2 is comparable to Ford's Fiesta, but with gentler lines and curves. It is still appealing to the eye in a cute sort of way; diminutive while managing to provide plenty of room inside for occupants and gear. It is also fun to drive, with a pleasing ride quality.

The handling characteristics deliver an agile feel. The Mazda2 isn't a sports car mind you, but it manages to serve up a smattering of Mazda's "Zoom -Zoom" soul in its most concentrated form. It fits into an "opulence is out, sensible is in" genre. Mazda2 delivers good fuel economy, with five-speed manual transmission models yielding 29 miles per gallon city and 35 mpg highway.

The Mazda2 displays an exaggerated wedge form, with short front and rear overhangs. A definitive character line runs from the front wheel well, rising along the shoulder to the taillamp. Up front is Mazda?s signature "smiley-face" grille topped by a functional wing-shaped air intake.

Despite its four passenger doors, the Mazda2 casts the image of a coupe with its blacked-out B-pillar. The hatchback's shoulder line outlines the taillamp unit, serving as the base line for the rear tailgate trapezoidal rear window capped by a functional spoiler.

Sport models roll on 15-inch steel wheels with composite full wheel covers, while Touring models travel on 15-inch, 7-spoke alloy wheels. Touring models are also distinguished by a distinctive exhaust tip, fog lights, a rear spoiler. leather-wrapped steering wheel-mounted audio and cruise controls, trip computer and a six-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo system.

Moving to the inside, the shift lever is mounted in the elevated center stack within easy reach. Both Sport and Touring models feature a Black cloth interior -- the Sport model comes with a design insert, and the Touring model features a Red piping accent trim.

Safety features and equipment include: Side airbags, side air curtains, ABS, and DSC with TCS as standard fare on all 2013 MAZDA2 trims. Also featured is Mazda's Smart Accelerator Pedal System.

Perhaps best of all, is the fact that the Mazda2 is both practical and affordable, making it an ideal prospect for consumers ranging from single, school-age drivers to young couples just starting a family (or not).



VEHICLE TYPE_________________ 5-passenger FWD subcompact hatch

BASE PRICE___________________ $16,210 (as tested: $17,600)

MOTOR TYPE___________________ 16-valve 4-cyl. w/EFI

DISPLACEMENT_________________ 1.5-liter

HORSEPOWER (net)_____________ 100 at 6000 rpm

TORQUE (lb.-ft.)_________________ 98 at 4000 rpm

TRANSMISSION_________________ 5-speed manual

OVERALL LENGTH_______________ 155.5 in.

TURNING CIRCLE (curb-to-curb)___ 34.4 ft.

CURB WEIGHT__________________ 2,306 lbs.

FUEL CAPACITY________________ 11.3 gal.

EPA MILEAGE RATING___________ 29 mpg city, 35 mpg highway

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