COAL (Continuation): 2012 Mazda 2 – A Reluctant First New Car

I have never aspired to own a brand new car. The biggest issue is most of them do not really interest me in any great way. For those that do I cannot justify the high cost and depreciation that comes with new car ownership. Although, if we are being really honest, it might be I am just more comfortable in an old clunker. I do enjoy getting great utility out of something others find little value in. My family, like most people, does not share this viewpoint. Especially after a few minor breakdowns. So enter my very first brand new vehicle.

(note: this is a COAL catch-up of sorts as there is a summary of my previous COAL write-ups. This one is a little out of order but rest should follow in order.)

Prior to the Mazda 2 I had a bit of a bad luck patch going. My Nissan Micra was sidelined by poor mechanics who did something to it while getting its mandatory safety inspection. Sadly it never ran the same. I moved onto a 240 series Volvo which required a few minor repairs but annoyed my wife when I had call her to rescue me after an alternator failure. I was pushed hard to consider a new car. Candidates for me included a Ford Mustang, the soon to be released Scion FR-S and the Mazda 2. An odd mix to be sure but I knew I wanted a manual transmission which was becoming a less common option even back in 2012. I was not really sold on the styling and cost of Mustang. The FR-S had some pent up demand and the rear seats were not really all that practical. The Mazda 2 seemed to be a spiritual successor to my departed Micra. Rather than decide on one of those options I pressed my Mazda 808 coupe into daily driver duty which unfortunately involved another dreaded safety inspection.

The first time around the ham-fisted mechanics blew out the rear brake cylinder. After I replaced the wheel cylinder the second time around for the re-inspection the timing chain let go on hoist at the shop. I was cursed I tell you as my wife pushed strongly for a new vehicle purchase. I towed the Mazda home and by luck the owner of the local Mazda dealership was passing by and offered to buy it. He wanted to restore it as a bit of showroom candy. In a moment of weakness I relented by rolling it into a deal for a new Mazda. A win-win for both of us. Sort of. The 808 is the car I most regret selling.

The 2 I picked was a low option car which was my preference and had the “Spirited Green” paint which was my favorite. After owning a series of clunkers it was a seriously weird feeling to buy a car and not have to immediately clean it.

Look, no grease under the hood.

The Mazda was used as my primary vehicle and our secondary family vehicle. As such we did take it on quite a few trips including to British Columbia on a number of occasions.

I think the 2 might be the easiest modern car to change the oil on. The filter is up front and accessing it does not even require jacking the car up. In order to retain my warranty I bought the oil and filter from the dealership but did my own changes.

The hatchback body style made the car very practical hauling all sorts of things from bikes to home renovation items.

Now that I had a reliable ride I was able to give auto-x a try. Among the crowd that included a Honda S2000, Nissan 300ZX, BMW, and an Audi was my little Mazda.

Besides some substantial body roll the 2 did quite well and undoubtedly a more experienced driver certainly could have moved a few more places up the results leaderboard.

While auto-x was certainly a lot of fun I was able to take it ice racing which was even better.

A local farmer allowed the auto-x club access to his frozen lake for the day. This is fantastic fun as you will occasionally overcook it which only results in a spin and plume of snow. I would recommend ice racing to anyone who is given the chance. Sadly I have not been able to give it a go again since as the weather conditions have not cooperated in the last several years.

Winter was coming and one thing certainly lacking was the OEM tires’ traction in winter. The 2 had the common 4x100mm bolt pattern and the relatively small wheel size (stock 15″ although you can fit 14″ rims) which made used tire and rim shopping easy.

I was able to pick up these aluminum rims for cheap, ran them for two winters and then sold them for what I bought them for.

Dirty ice on the bright green paint something gave an interesting effect.

Another winter, another set of cheap winter rims/tires. These I painted white for a different look over the usual black steelies. The tires on them were like new and made the Mazda almost unstoppable in the snow. Just ground clearance remains a bit of an issue.

The Mazda 2 even served as our only car for a short while although it was a tight fit for the five of us. The space crunch meant it was not long before we bought my wife a much more suitable vehicle as our primary family hauler. I had planned to keep this little car almost indefinitely but in August 2017 an opportunity came up to purchase a larger car that would work better for our three growing children when sharing the back seat. So after five years and 85k kms I sold the little green machine to a teenage girl who made this car her first. In the time I had it required exactly zero repairs and only very minimal maintenance. I still see it around town once in a while.