New Mazda2 Preview: ‘B’ Somebody

2015 Mazda2

The new Mazda2 was recently launched in Japan – and is coming to a factory near you.

In the U.S., predicting success within the subcompact class (known in the industry as the B-segment) is – at best – a prickly proposition. BMW’s Mini, based on sales, niche and profit, would seem to be the gold standard, but with the novelty worn off (Pippa gets more ink…) and offshoots proliferating, it was only a matter of time before the hipsters looked elsewhere. Perhaps they’ll consider the new Mazda2, whose production has just started at Mazda’s Hofu Plant #1 in Yamaguchi, Japan.

Mazda2 Interior

The Mazda2 interior provides an upscale ambience…at what we hope will remain a downscale price point.

The current Mazda Mazda2, which was exported to the U.S. at roughly the end of its predicted shelf life (the model has now been in production for seven years), never generated a following. And this lack of inertia was in spite of significant growth in Mazda’s U.S. sales. With a clean design, reasonable efficiency and practical – given its smallish footprint – in the extreme, we’d guess the Great Unwashed never grabbed it ‘cuz they could never find the deal. Nissan offered deals, Toyota offered deals, and even Fiat offered deals. Mazda, almost by itself, offered little more than a well-built car which was fun to drive. And that wasn’t nearly enough.

This time, the newest Mazda Mazda2 embodies all the goodness that is SkyActiv technology. The Deuce will employ new SkyActiv engines, transmissions, body and chassis designs in much the same fashion as those enjoyed by its SkyActiv predecessors: CX-5, Mazda6 and Mazda3. Of course, with the high efficiency of the Mazda3 the team at Hiroshima will need to work very hard for the economy of the Mazda2 to create a compelling reason – at least here in the States – for its consideration.

For me, in much the same way as I enjoy Ford’s Fiesta more than its Focus (at least in the role of a second car), I could enjoy the Mazda2 – if properly equipped – over the very attractive Mazda3. And no, I’m not looking for technology adds. Rather, I’ll take the tossable, more visceral element the best of the B-Segment come with. Think small footprint, capable chassis, diesel torque and a well-equipped price this side of $20K. And with production of the U.S. version scheduled to start at a new Mazda plant in Mexico, all of the above could and should be doable.

And to that I’d suggest…do it.