Americans have had a rather sordid history with subcompacts. For generations, automakers have built them, only to have them wither on the sales vine as fuel prices rise and then fall again, causing buyers to go back to their Hummers and other creatures of cheap fuel.
But this time could be different. Fuel prices are now about triple what they were just a dozen years ago and a growing thirst for oil around the world means prices will probably never return to such low prices.
So subcompacts may have a chance this time. What will help is if automakers can resist the idea that small cars also have to be tinny penalty boxes. Give buyers more style, inside and out, and at least the option to get the features they want, and maybe they’ll give them a try.
The Mazda 2 is such a car. It at least makes an effort to be stylish, has tons of feature and it has the added benefit of being a Mazda, meaning that it should be endowed with the sportiest handling in its class.
So, let’s take a look.