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First Drive: 2011 Mazda2


Mazda tantalized small car-loving Americans, all 23 of us, several months back as it considered whether to import its B-segment car. The 2011 Mazda2, which shares its platform with the Ford Fiesta, got the green light for the U.S. and goes on sale this August.

Credit Canada. Mazda projects it will sell about 20,000 Mazda2s per year in the United States. And it will sell about 20,000 2s in Canada, even though that country has fewer citizens than California. Canadian volumes typically are one-tenth of U.S. volumes for a given new model.

The MAZDA 2 is different because Canadians pay a lot more for gas and diesel, and they generally have less money to spend on cars. On average, they buy smaller, cheaper models. And Mazdas are popular, especially in the eastern provinces (the press launch was held in Montreal, Quebec). The MAZDA 3 is Canada's second-bestseller, just behind the Honda Civic.

 So while it might have been a tough MAZDA BUSINESS case to import 22,000 Mazda2s from Japan, bringing in 40,000 of the low profit-margin cars made for an easier sell, especially just as Ford is fueling the B-car fire here with its new, '11 Fiesta.

The MAZDA 2 and Fiesta share a platform and with it, just three parts: front and rear wheel bearings, front upper strut mounts, and front anti-roll bar end links. MAZDA 2 is a smaller, lighter car, 4.6 inches shorter overall on the same 98-inch wheelbase as the Fiesta. Mazda cut 220 pounds compared with the previous, non-North American model with its "grams approach," in which engineers looked at every component that could be slimmed down.

 The body structure is 10-percent lighter than the old one. Of the car's steel, 53 percent is one form or another of the high-strength kind, similar to Fiesta's ratio. The MAZDA 2 has more carefully applied welding to save MAZDA 6 pounds, smaller and more efficiently packaged wiring harnesses to save 6.4 pounds, redesigned hood latches cutting 5.5 pounds, stereo speakers lightened to the tune of 2.2 pounds, a 3.7-pound-slimmer radiator and fluid capacity, a 1.9-pound-lighter shift lever placed high up the center console for better space use, and a simplified fresh-air intake saving 0.6 pound.

(Source)


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