Sure, the 2011 Ford Fiesta might be getting the huge promotional push to solidify its sales leadership in the subcompact hatchback segment but does that really mean it is the best choice for you? Yes, it is surely ground breaking because it offers lots of “big car features” that you don’t usually find in this segment. It is also of note because the Big Three have never had a credible entry in this end of the market before now. So kudos to the 2011 Ford Fiesta.
But there just might be a smarter and, dare I say it, more fun choice to be found at your local Mazda dealer. It’s called the 2 simply because, well, it’s smaller than the Mazda3. Much like their very simple naming system Mazda has also kept your choices down to a minimum with just two trim levels and two transmission choices available.
The Mazda2 may not offer Bluetooth or in-dash navigation but most people in the budget end of the car buying spectrum buy less expensive aftermarket units anyway. The basic Sport variant starts at just $14,180 and comes with air conditioning, power windows, power door locks, a 4-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo, an aux-input jack and plenty more.
Up the ante to Touring trim for $15,635 and you also get cruise control, 15-inch alloy wheels (plastic caps are standard with the Sport), steering wheel mounted audio controls, a leather wrapped steering wheel, upgraded seat material, rear spoiler, a chrome exhaust tip and an upgraded 6-speaker AM/FM/CD audio system.
Another $800 gets you a 4-speed automatic if you can’t handle the third pedal that comes with the standard five speed manual transmission. But do be aware that Mazda makes some of the best manual transmissions in the business and the five speed in this model will help you make the most of the standard 1.5 liter 4 cylinder’s modest 100 horsepower output.
If you are the type to pay attention to such things you will notice that the Fiesta has more power than the Mazda (though not by much) yet somehow it still gets better fuel economy. The Ford has a very well publicized 40 MPG plus highway fuel economy rating whereas the Mazda returns only a so-so 29 city/35 highway.
So why would anyone buy a 2011 Mazda2 over the comparable Fiesta? Well, if you only have $15,000 to spend you won’t be able to afford any of the cool Ford options and oddly enough the Mazda feels better assembled inside. The Mazda is also decidedly more light on its feet because it simply isn’t as heavy as most cars at just over 2,300 pounds. The Ford alone weighs a couple of hundred pounds more.
The 2011 Ford Fiesta is a grown up subcompact which is a concept whose time has come but that isn’t to say there isn’t room for a fantastically cheap and fantastically fun subcompact for those of us who like to keep it simple. Me, I just like to keep things simple.
Also, in case you were wondering, the Mazda2 and Ford Fiesta may have been developed when Ford owned Mazda but they share very, very few parts. This corporate separation is how Mazda was able to develop a much more lightweight car yet was still shut out from getting the more advanced (and efficient) double clutch automatic seen in the 2011 Fiesta.