Rdrcr's Mazda2 Review and Build Thread.

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2014 Mazda2
Let me think. My 2014 Mazda2 Sport is the fifth Mazda I’ve owned.
I have had the pleasure of owning two RX7’s and two Miata MX5’s. All have been fantastic cars. Mazda has treated me well.



I can remember several years ago when the Mazda2 first hit the showroom floors. I can also remember when I saw my first 2 on the road. The 2 had a fun playful appearance and undeniable Mazda character.
At the time, however, I had no need, or desire to own one.

Fast forward to 2014. Over the past year or so I’ve been driving and traveling more due to occupational demands. After realizing the amount of miles I’d been driving, I found myself in need of a good economical point A to point B vehicle. All this because I didn’t necessarily want to put excessive miles on the cars I currently owned.

My car shopping criteria was simple.
I needed a car that was under $20K, manual, 4-door, and must be equipped with an audio USB port. Simple, right?

I’m not brand loyal. I never have been. So, I researched everything available. I looked at and test-drove cars from Toyota, Honda, Mazda, Nissan, Kia (surprisingly), Chevrolet, and Ford.
The factory incentives and rebates certainly played a role in my new-car viewing, driving, and purchasing process.

There are obviously pros and cons to all subcompact vehicles in this class. Though my expectations were few, there were only three cars that really earned my interest.
They were the Honda Fit, the Ford Fiesta, and the Mazda 2.

I liked the Honda Fit, but, man, is it ugly. I couldn’t get over its appearance. And that’s a shame. I’m sure it would have been a great car. Shockingly, I really liked the Ford Fiesta SE with the 1.0L Eco boost. Sure, I didn’t appreciate the ridiculous ergonomics, overcomplicated dashboard, spongy clutch feel, sloppy shifter, super cheap recycled interior plastic, and the heavy handling. But, the mighty tiny turbocharged engine, surprising power, rapid acceleration, and insane MPG were hugely impressive. I almost bought one. I was a just signature away.
But, I hesitated because there is something special about Mazda, and the Mazda2.

With the Mazda2, there is a lot to like. Let’s see the price. Yep, that’s impressive. The overall appearance and aesthetics are rather appealing. It is super lightweight, even for its class. While being an inexpensive car, there is still a sense of quality. The build materials might be cheap, but, every part looks and feels nice. The interior layout is well thought-out and boasts proper ergonomics. The manual transmission shift lever placement is near perfect. There is an impossible amount of room for a car of this size. Plus, the 2 has a ton of standard convenience features (all the features that I need anyway). And, the Mazda2 gets respectful MPG. What did I forget?

The only thing I disliked about the 2, was the power. The poor little Mazda 1.5L DOHC 4 cylinder engine doesn’t have any.
It makes like what? A 100HP. On a good day.

As you can clearly see and what I’m trying to say is this; I wanted to purchase a Mazda2 Ford 1.0L Eco boost. Sadly, I couldn’t find it anywhere!
A compromise was in order. So, I purchased the only Mazda2 version available, the standard Sport model. To be honest, there really wasn’t too much to compromise with the Mazda2. Its only shortcoming was the power. The Mazda2 had everything else.

I purchased a 2014 Mazda2 Sport in Blue Reflex Mica with a manual transmission and factory integrated Bluetooth.

I clearly made the right decision.



The Mazda2 has so much character. You can sense the energy, emotion, and focus that built this car. The Mazda2 definitely has purpose. It is both smart and simple. Extend your arms and legs and all the controls are in a natural location. The steering feel and handling are precise. The chassis is firm and unwavering. I can feel both the RX7 and the Miata MX5 in this vehicle. There is no question that Mazda is a company staffed with true car enthusiasts and their enthusiasm exemplifies the cars they build.

It is not fair that this miniature car delivers so big and costs so little. I guess we have to be thankful for competition.

No other car comes close to conveying the driving enjoyment of the Mazda2 in a comparable price range and class. The driving experience is what this car is all about and alone, the reason that sold me on this vehicle.
The driving experience defines the Mazda2.

Seriously, this car is more fun than imaginable.

The Mazda2 has a fun playful yet sleek appearance. The big black happy front grille adds personality. The curves, angles, and lines of the bodywork flow very well. The Mazda2 has character throughout. Plus, just looking at the 2 makes you smile! I’m happy with the Blue Reflex Mica. It is a good color for this car. Overall, the exterior design is pretty much faultless. That is, if you can forgive the huge wheel gaps. But, some aftermarket lowering springs can cure that. Nobody’s perfect.



The interior is comfortable and roomy. The interior styling is tasteful and all the controls and switches are in the right locations. Everything makes sense. Why is this so hard for so many other manufactures? I’m happy to see the Mazda2 equipped with rear wiper. This feature will come in handy in difficult weather conditions. The stereo sound quality is above average for this price range and it’s equipped with a standard audio USB port. Heck, I bought a brand new car last year for more than double the price of this car and it didn’t have an audio USB port! Unbelievable! Did I mention the 2 has plenty of cup holders? However, where is my armrest?



No doubt you feel very connected to this car and to the road. The chassis relays great feedback and handling is incredible despite the economy tires and soft suspension. The Mazda2 is very capable conquering challenging canyon roads. Steering feel is a little light but, the turn-in response is lightning quick and the overall grip is impressive. However, when pushed, I have experienced my share of understeer. But, come on! That comes as no surprise. With a couple minor suspension upgrades and larger wheels and better tires, the 2 would not have any problems competing with the Mini Cooper. I hate to say it but, the Mazda2 is justifiably a ‘drivers’ car.

The Mazda2 lacks power. There is no denying it. The poor thing has a hard time and you can feel the engine laboring when you hit a steep grade. Luckily, the transmission gearing is more than adequate and the 2 feels pretty peppy and can accelerate competently in most driving conditions. You just can’t expect to win any drag-races in this car. There are a couple additional troubling aspects with this engine. The throttle response is vague, delayed, and difficult to gauge. Hardly confidence inspiring. Furthermore, there seems to be some flat-spots in the power-band. The engine doesn’t rev smoothly and consistently throughout the RPM range. These examples aren’t ‘problems’ with the engine. They are ‘traits’ of the engines operation and factory engine tuning, which could use some work. Perhaps an aftermarket engine tune can cure my dissatisfaction? All that aside, the underpowered little Mazda engine adds even more character to this car by emitting some cool sounds. The engine produces a cool buzz sound while cruising and an aggressive albeit quiet grrrr when accelerating. You simply must appreciate it’s never ending effort and personality!



Mazda has put together quite the subcompact. It may not perform great in any particular category, but, it does perform better than expected and better than it should in virtually all categories. For the price, you can’t beat it. The Mazda 2 is the complete package. I’m glad I have one. Did I mention I’m averaging a combined 34 MPG? Not bad at all.

Good job Mazda, but now, it is my turn.

My goal is to tastefully upgrade my Mazda2 with minor modifications to personalize and to improve my overall driving enjoyment.
To start, I’ll be tinting the windows, removing the wheel caps (they always fall off anyway), replace the long wire antenna with a short-stubby radio antenna, and adding an appropriate manual shift knob.

More reviews and upgrades to come…

Mike
 
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2012 Mazda2
My wife and I went to Mazda in 2010 to buy her a Mazda2 2011, after a test drive we were sold.

At that time I owned a Nissan Versa SL Sport 6 speed manual, when I bought the Versa the Mazda2 wasen't out yet so I couldn't buy a Mazda2 at that moment. I had the same shopping list than you. Honda Fit, Ford Fiesta, Kia Rio, Pontiac Wave G3....The only 3 cars that was worth looking at was the Fit, Fiesta and the Versa. The Fit was the second gen, It was ok but the price, interest rates, ugly interior and Minivan look exterior didn't got me going for it. The Fiesta was ok but at that time there was no ST, I would have got that instead....but for all the same reasons than you I didn't like the Fiesta. So I looked at the Versa SL Sport manual, it wasen't the best car or most fun car to own but it was extremely roomy and the interest rates were a 0% for 72 months so I got it.

So here I was, a Nissan Versa owner that got a taste of the Mazda2 and I didn't want to drive the floppy noisy trashy Versa anymore. While we were working in the paper work for my wifes Mazda2 there was a Black Mica 2010 Speed3 behind us in the show room. It had a 7,000$Can rebate on it because the 2011 were in and they wanted it gone.... So I bought it :) Bye bye Versa

I loved the Speed3 don't get me wrong, but in the snow it was a pain in the ass. I used to drive my wifes Mazda2 when I could. After driving it many times I started to love how it drove, the car loved to be pushed hard and the control in the white stuff made the Speed3 a waste of time. Ok, the Speed3 was a power monster and it could fly. But I couldn't run the Speed3 as hard as the 2 with out getting in serious trouble with the law. I found the 2 more balanced than the Speed3, it's like a FWD Miata! So after we bought the house I didn't see the need to keep it and I also got me a Mazda2. My plan was to own a 2 and buy me a bike. I'm still waiting on the bike part.

I did some mods on my 2, I got to tell you that if you want more power and better mpg get the SRI from Corksport. I drove back to back our Mazda2 and you can feel the power difference. I also kept records at that time of the fuel economy of before and after the intake and I gained fuel economy (about 2mpg). Dynotronics tune + Corksport race pipe/ CBE + Corksport SRI should give more power and better mpg to the 1.5l MZR. Hey, it will pay it self in fuel economy with time ;)

Enjoy your new Mazda and have fun :)

By the way, great review
 

16vPete

Throttle-Lift-Oversteer
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2014 Mazda2 Sport
Awesome review man!

Also, nice choice on the Reflex Blue color =)
 
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Mazda 2
I just realized that you guys in America get a proper glove box. We get some magazine rack style thing that is super s*** to get anything out of especially if you wear a watch.
 
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Mazda 2 TS 1.3 True Red 5door Hatch
Rdrcr....

Nice write up....

woot woot.... oh yea hadn't noticed that....

Shaun......
 
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2014 Mazda2
^^^^
Thanks guys!

I did some mods on my 2, I got to tell you that if you want more power and better mpg get the SRI from Corksport. I drove back to back our Mazda2 and you can feel the power difference. I also kept records at that time of the fuel economy of before and after the intake and I gained fuel economy (about 2mpg). Dynotronics tune + Corksport race pipe/ CBE + Corksport SRI should give more power and better mpg to the 1.5l MZR. Hey, it will pay it self in fuel economy with time ;)

Enjoy your new Mazda and have fun :)

By the way, great review

Thanks!

Good to know. For now, I'm planning on taking your performance modification path.

Mike
 
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2012 Mazda2
The beauty about the 2 is that small mods makes a lot of difference. It improves characters of the already existing essence of the car.
Just look at the path of the air intake on the Mazda2, just that made me laugh and I had to get the SRI right away. Not too many cars can have a straight line intake to the T-body, but with the Corksport SRI this is what you get. Free flow straight to the t-body ;)

Dampers on the Mazda2 sucks from the factory, my wife wants the Corksport dampers to go with her oem springs to control the already existing bounce. I also need them to go with my lowered springs. I think our 2's will be a never ending project, but that's the fun of modding a small nimble car.
 
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'13 Mazda 2
Welcome to the club!

Interesting how the 'enthusiast affordable subcompact shopping list' is/was only the 2, fiesta, and fit. I spent about 2 weeks agonizing night and day over the set. The fiesta was easy to cut out, as it had good--but the least involving--driving character. My choice came down to a $12k CPO Fit Sport, or the $15k Mazda2 Sport. Even the dealerships were matched, the salesmen were great low-pressure guys. Dynamically, the Fit was good: you see why the Gen2 Fit was the class benchmark. But it felt slower and a little more blunted than it's power/weight implied. The Little 2 That Could felt like it was doing a lot with its 100hp, and was so damn tossable and sharp. Ate the extra 3k and hyper-fast depreciation to get a new 2.


The only modern FWD hatch that I've been in that felt this good was actually a 2014 golf TDI--with a heathen DCT, no less. And that's about $10k more.
 
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2014 Mazda2
^^^^
I too find it amusing we're all cross-shopping the same vehicles. I'm glad you got the 2.

The beauty about the 2 is that small mods makes a lot of difference. It improves characters of the already existing essence of the car.
Just look at the path of the air intake on the Mazda2, just that made me laugh and I had to get the SRI right away. Not too many cars can have a straight line intake to the T-body, but with the Corksport SRI this is what you get. Free flow straight to the t-body ;)

Dampers on the Mazda2 sucks from the factory, my wife wants the Corksport dampers to go with her oem springs to control the already existing bounce. I also need them to go with my lowered springs. I think our 2's will be a never ending project, but that's the fun of modding a small nimble car.

Typically I use the logic of 'go big, or go home' when I modify small displacement cars. Supercharger, or Turbo for example.

I'm glad to hear that small mods will make a noticeable difference. I've already purchased the Corksport lowering springs (still need to install them) and I'll likely purchase their Intake components in a few months. I'll do a before and after dyno on all my performance mods and post the info in this thread.

The dampers are no doubt soft. I don't want to change them because I'll want to go full coilover. We'll see if I'll be able to resist...

Mike
 

16vPete

Throttle-Lift-Oversteer
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2014 Mazda2 Sport
The Corksport dampers are EXCELLENT. I absolutely love mine, the money-to-handling-ratio is great! Right now their set to pretty soft due to my girlfriend's mother being in town... I like the fact that I can in less than a minute make the ride a lot more communicative/stiff by just turning some knobs. I should point out that with my Eibach springs my hand barely fits between the fender and wheel to get to the rears, but that's easily remedied with a jack.

Anyway, waiting for coilovers is certainly a good idea too.
 
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2014 Mazda2
^^^^
Good to know. Thanks for the info!

I added a few items to the 2 (still haven't installed the CS lowering springs). I just need to get some pics so I can post the improvements in the thread!

Mike
 
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2012 Mazda2 Sport
Great Review! I wish I could've gotten my hands on the blue reflex too.

I almost gave in to the honda fit before i bought my 2. To me, the biggest deal breaker for the Ford was the wheel bolt pattern, 4x108... really...?

I eventually went with the bilstein set up with spring rates close to the b-spec cars. Does well at autocross and isn't as bad as you would think for the street. I'm sure the dampers will probably last forever too.
 
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2014 Mazda Da2
The Bilsteins with the CS rear bar and a good set of tires transforms the car. Throw in a RB muffler for a good sound adds to the fun. People drive my car and just get out with a grin and say how much they enjoy the car. Enjoy.
 
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2014 Mazda2
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The CS rear bar, is that a rear sway bar?

Great Review! I wish I could've gotten my hands on the blue reflex too.

I almost gave in to the honda fit before i bought my 2. To me, the biggest deal breaker for the Ford was the wheel bolt pattern, 4x108... really...?

I eventually went with the bilstein set up with spring rates close to the b-spec cars. Does well at autocross and isn't as bad as you would think for the street. I'm sure the dampers will probably last forever too.

Good to know! Thanks for the info!

Mike
 

daedalus_zero

Feels good, man.
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2014 Mazda2 Sport
^^^^
The CS rear bar, is that a rear sway bar?

Rear torsion beam brace, technically. Just stiffens it up, much like a sway bar for independent suspension. At $100 it's a bargain for the handling gains.

Also, congrats on the Blue Reflex. It's a good color on the 2.
 
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2014 Mazda2
^^^^
Cool. Thanks for the response and compliments on the color!

I'll likely just stop by CS and purchase both the Intake and the Rear Bar since I'll be in Washington state within the next couple months.

Mike
 
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2014 Mazda2
And so it begins...

The first modification I immediately install on any new vehicle, is Window Tint. Window tint provides many benefits. Not only does it improve the overall appearance of the car, the tint actually protects the interior by absorbing the suns harmful rays blocking-out direct sunlight and by also keeping the inside of the car cooler. This is especially important if your car spends a lot of time outdoors exposed to the elements (which my car does when it is not at home in the garage).

To illustrate the importance of window tint, examine the interior of any 5 year old (or older) vehicle without window tint that spends a lot of time outside in direct sunlight and compare it to another car of the same age and model year exposed to the same environmental conditions with window tint. The car with window tint will appear like-new while the vehicle without window tint will show more fading, cracking, and overall wear and tear throughout the interior.

Clearly, it is better to have the windows tinted. And to take proper care of my investment, I had all the windows tinted for appearance and protection.

I decided to go with a blend of 30% tint on the front windows, 15% tint on the rear windows, and 5% tint on the rear hatch glass.



I am very pleased with the results. The newly installed window tint will surely protect the interior from the elements and has definitely improved the overall appearance of my Mazda2.

Mike
 
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2014 Mazda 2 Sport 5-Speed Manual
I wish my 2 was that color. I have the sport model as well but I bought the spoiler for it off ebay. It was only around $100 painted and shipped and it definitely makes a huge difference in the car's appearance. The tint looks good, but you should have done 5% all around.
 
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2014 Mazda2
I wish my 2 was that color. I have the sport model as well but I bought the spoiler for it off ebay. It was only around $100 painted and shipped and it definitely makes a huge difference in the car's appearance. The tint looks good, but you should have done 5% all around.

Thanks for the compliments on the color. It was my favorite and I was lucky to find one.

Agreed on the 5% tint but, I live in CA and our laws don't allow for front window tint so I had to compromise in hope of not getting cited. : (

Mike