More from Auto Review Examiner John Matras from the New York Auto show where he reports that Mazda has unveiled plans to bring its highly successful Mazda2 to the states to compete with the new Ford Fiesta, Toyota’s Yaris, the Chevy Aveo and similar mini-compacts.
“Originally launched in 2007 and on sale in Japan, Australia and Europe, the Mazda Mazda2 has had an impressive start with the critics, winning everything from the 2008 World Car of the Year and regional awards from Bulgaria to New Zealand. Sales worldwide have totaled 400,000 since its market introduction three years ago,” Matras notes.
Critics may accuse Mazda of having only one motive for bringing the 2 here – the coming hike in Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards that require a fleet average of 35 mpg. I suspect it probably also has to do with Mazda’s desire to be competitive in a slice of the market that is almost certain to grow in coming years as gas costs go up.
Go here for the full report from John. The two four-doors John photographed on the Mazda stand really sparkle in that shade of green, don’t they?
By the way, on its media web site, Mazda provides extensive backgrounding on the new model. There, I found a revealing section on the driving personality Mazda intends to be displayed by its “fun-sized” 2:
“Mazda focused on realizing driver-oriented maneuverability and confidence-inspiring driving dynamics ?or a Zoom-Zoom driving experience that is unique in this segment.
“The driving experience that Mazda strives for has two key attributes: 1) a sense of linear acceleration and deceleration that responds crisply to how far the accelerator pedal is depressed, allowing the driver to control car speed as desired; and 2) a sense of liveliness through immediate response to the accelerator for quick off-the-line acceleration and overtaking. The development team targeted a performance feel reflecting enhancement of both of these key attributes without adversely impacting on the MAZDA2’s superior fuel economy as a subcompact car.
“Preliminary tests indicate that all MAZDA2s equipped with five-speed manual transmissions are expected to return 28/35 MPG (city/highway), while models equipped with available four-speed automatics are expected to return 28/34 MPG (city/highway).
“The new MAZDA2 inherits a highly regarded suspension system, which has MacPherson struts at the front and a torsion-beam axle at the rear. With improved steering and braking systems, the resulting dynamic performance yields consistently responsive handling and a smooth, stable ride that customers have come to expect from Mazda.
“In order to create more comfortable day-to-day driving, Mazda took various measures to achieve a quiet cabin environment. Mazda also improved the coefficient of drag values to achieve better aerodynamics, contributing not only to the MAZDA2’s quietness, but also to a more sporty ride and fuel efficiency.
“In order to form the best balance between lower fuel consumption, outstanding driving dynamics and top-level safety performance, the new MAZDA2 reflects the close attention paid to minimizing weight through its smaller body shell, optimization of the structure, extensive use of high-tensile steel and many other weight-saving measures implemented throughout the car. Under this approach, Mazda made the best use of weight-saving know-how, similar to the “gram” strategy employed during the development of the MX-5 sports car.
“As a result, the MAZDA2 has achieved world-leading crash safety ratings (five stars in the Euro New Car Assessment Program (NCAP), the highest possible result) without compromising driving performance and fuel economy.
“In line with the way subcompact cars are mainly used as day-to-day commuters, with a driver-oriented development philosophy, the MAZDA2 has achieved a level of drivability and nimbleness that enables easy maneuverability, even in small car-parking areas and other tight spaces.”
I will have a full driving report as soon as I can get a Mazda2 on my test drive schedule.