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.
Great little car, there aren’t many of those down here at all for some reason. The green looks great with the white wheels too, I wouldn’t have thought that but it does.
I don’t know what you did with all that spare time you must have had not cleaning, not grinding down rust, not welding, not looking for spare parts on Kijiji, not calling your wife to pick you up from wherever etc. 🙂
Watch this space in the coming weeks …
I’m guessing that you used some of that time working on cars for whatever year’s Great Beater Challenge. 🙂
Great little car? That, of course, was the original name for the US version of the third-gen Mazda Familia/323 introduced in 1977 and the subsequent one in 1980. After that, it was the 323/Protege.
I had the Fiesta ST version of this platform and with winter tires it was amazing on icy roads. Only let down by ground clearance. I never warmed up to the low rent interior, and the Recaro seats were ungodly painful after more than an hour.
These are brilliant, underrated cars. They’re not terribly fast with only 100hp, but they’re light and nimble with a willing, revvy engine and a slick, precise shifter. I have a somewhat rare upper trim Touring model with the five speed. I love the little thing.
Very popular cars here Mazda 2s arrive used by the shipload it seems, that colour is common too, easy oil change? I think I have you beaten on that, front mounted filter on my C5 and you simpkly press a button on the console and the car rises to service height allowing me to get underneath to drain the old stuff out no lift or jacks required, it took me 3 moths to find a manual trans version of my car though a French friend tells me they were common in France when new.
I have had four little hatchbacks in my 37 years of driving and I love them. Just cannot beat the utility, fuel economy and ease of maneuvering. I have had a 2008 Saturn Astra since new, and it was handed down to my son. Now that he is away at school I find myself driving the Astra almost daily and leaving my 14 Regal GS in the garage. I find myself drawn to the 2 over the Fiesta for some reason, though I like both. With the manual transmission I think I would really like a car like this. Looks like fun.
Big cars always seem a bit silly when you’ve lived with a small one, at least in their more modern forms anyway. There’s an unlikely relaxation in piloting something where you don’t have to think about the dimensions at virtually any time which makes the little hatch unmatched, even on country roads if it’s a goodie dynamically (as, for example, your Astra is).
Obviously, if one’s driving meant many hours of highway droning, I’d suggest a LWB barge of some sort, but that’s just not what a hell of a lot of us are doing day-to-day.
Neat B-segment hatch, I like its bright color too. The 2020 North-American Toyota Yaris is a Mazda 2, right?
As an aside, EV B-segment hatchbacks are arriving at the scene here. We already had the Renault Zoe (fully revised recently) but now also the new Opel Corsa and -logically- Peugeot 208.
Scion sold a sedan version of the Mazda 2 (called the Scion ia) for almost 2 years. Then when Scion was folded into Toyota the Mazda 2 sedan was sold as the Yaris ia with Toyota selling its own Yaris hatchback alongside. But you are correct, in 2020 the Toyota Yaris hatch will be a Mazda 2, at least in this country.
BTW, Yaris (Yarises?) sold in this country are built in Mexico…I believe.
Thanks. I’ve read that “our” new Yaris generation will be introduced soon, in the upcoming months that is. So far only spy-shots (of a heavily camouflaged hatchback) and artist impressions. It will be built in France, I assume, just like the current one.
…and meanwhile images of the new 2020 Euro-Yaris have been posted on the web.
I was pretty close to buying one, but I insist on having cruise control. The base model didn’t have it, but the next trim level up did, but it added something like 20% to the MSRP. I kind of wish I’d looked into adding cruise to the base model with an aftermarket kit.
Well, at least in the initial model year, there was about a 16% price difference between a entry level manual equipped Sport and a fully loaded Touring automatic, which works out to about $2250. Comparing manual to manual, it was only about $1500. Which, with the equipment you got, (leather wrapped wheel with radio controls, cruise, fog lights, rear spoiler, nicer seat fabric, and alloy wheels) it wasn’t a bad deal.
And it’s pretty easy to add cruise to the base model from what I recall, since all the software and connections are already there. You just need a new wheel.
“Almost unstoppable in the snow”. I had to read that a few times before I figured out what you meant. It didn’t sound very safe to me at first.
Dare I ask – What do these “mechanics” @ inspection place do?
On my Micra they mucked with the carb and ignition for some unknown reason. Ran beautifully before I took it but never ran right again after.
On my Mazda 808 they (different they) broke the rear wheel cylinder (I did as well previously and put in a new one).
The Mazda2 got good reviews when it came out, some magazines even proclaiming it a poor man’s BMW. The saying I remember reading about it was “it’s more fun to drive a slow car fast, than it is to drive a fast car slow”. The point was, even though the 2 only had 100 horsepower, it was fun to keep the pedal mashed to the floor as one darted through traffic.
It was odd since its platform mate, the Ford Fiesta, didn’t enjoy similar positive vibes. A real shame since, as a domestic product, you could get a good deal on the Ford, but not so much on the Mazda.
The 2 just never caught on, and it was a real pity since it did seem like quite a nice ride for a small car. The class leader has always been the Honda Fit but, to me, if you could have gotten a better deal on the 2, it’s what I would have gotten.
I would like to have a Mazda 2 as a run around vehicle. But in central NJ where I live, its size can be problematic because there are too many large SUVs and trucks running on the road. It is interesting that you brought up Ford Fiesta and its ST trim. I believe Fiesta is even more fun to drive. Its 3 cylinder turbo engine in the ST trim has a lot of power, in addition its chassis is tuned better than Mazda 2. Even Consumer Report, who is no fan of American automakers, gave a very positive comments and high road test scores. In general, Ford had done a very good job in term of handling on its Fiesta, Focus, Fusion and CMax lineups. But Ford now decides to put all of them in the chopping board.
If I recall correctly, ST is THE vehicle used in O’Neill Driving School to teach entry level driving course. Some YouTube testers claimed ST outperforms VW GTI on the test track.
When they first came out, I don’t think there was a Fiesta ST, so the comparison was between the Mazda2 and base Fiesta. The latter car was the one that reviewers didn’t much like.
But the Fiesta ST was a different animal and it, indeed, was much more sporting and closer to (if not better than) the Mazda2. Of course, you had to pay more to get the ST, too.
I think the reviewers were smoking something on review day.
I had a 2012 Fiesta with the 5 speed manual. It was quite loaded with options(it put some luxo cars to shame with all the things in it). I am not sure if it was one of those cars that Ford made for a demo model as it was pretty full of equipment including a sunroof(which was useless to me) and Sync(which I hated), power leather seats. It did not have remote start or push button/keyless start due to it being a manual.
It had one of the best manual transmissions I have ever driven and it made the engine very responsive.
Not sure if it is the same transmission but the one in the 2 is a fantastic fwd transmission. The clutch was sometimes a little touchy due to what Mazda called “clutch cushioning” that was supposed to make it easier for novices to get the hang of.
These are a minor classic, I reckon.
Mazda had often been a bit in front, managing to give off an air of class and innovation that, say, Nissan/Datsun never managed, but lost its way (and money) in the early-mid ’90’s. It turned, as if chastened, to making dull old things.
This 2 was part of their turnaround. It had a genuinely stylish design, excellent dynamics, a stylish (to me) interior, and Mazda never did falter for good engines or manual boxes. I’ve driven one briefly, albeit an automatic, but still I found it really endearing.
I’m also a bit in the category of those who can’t stomach a new purchase and all that is lost with it, but forced into such a situation, your presumably generous arrangement involving an old 808 – which is most pretty but objectively awful as a car by today’s standards – and this here 2 is the best way I could imagine being dragged to do so.
None seem available anywhere near Boston, with the manual.
Arguably a better car than the Golf Mk1, except collectibility, aftermarket parts and ease of repair.
My folks are the exact opposite of you, they always buy new cars and never used. Then again they keep the cars for 10 to 15 years so depreciation is not a factor for them because by the time they go to get a new car, the old one is not worth anything anyway.
I have come around to that thinking also. Last year i bought my first new car in about 10 years prior to that it was a host of used cars. But as I hit my 40’s i realized that always having to wrench on a car sucks. I bought a brand new Elantra with a 10 year 60,000/100,000 warranty for my daily and have not looked back. I have the income to have not only the Elantra but a winter beater and also a fun car so it is not like I gave up cars but it is so much easier to hand the keys over to Hyundai in the event there is an issue and let them fix it under warranty rather then wrench on my daily driver.
I can still wrench all I want on the other cars I own
I rented one in the Washington DC area a few years ago. It was a nice little car and we managed to squeeze 5 people in it for some short hops and 4 people with luggage by the crude expedient of removing the parcel shelf. It was very nimble and even with automatic it was nippy and a worthy alternative to a Honda Fit.
I bought a new madzda 2 I’m looking for some help as regards to front lights are very bright but don’t have a dimmer is this normal or does lighting need to be fixed.
This isn’t normal. High and low beam are mandatory equipment everywhere in the world.