Mazda to Launch Redesigned Mazda2 Subcompact in North America

For 2011, Mazda Motor Corporation is adding the redesigned Mazda2 subcompact to its model lineup.

Mazda will begin selling the five-door hatchback in the U.S. beginning in August. The 2011 Mazda2 and 2011 Ford Fiesta share some basic architectural elements as well as a number of parts but the Mazda2’s engine and transmission are unique to the model.

The 2011 model is the third generation of the Mazda2 and the first to be sold in North America. In fact, Mazda has chosen the North American market to launch the vehicle which will subsequently go on sale in Japan, Asia and Europe.

Mazda expects annual U.S. sales of subcompacts to double to 1 million units within the next two years. In the U.S., the Mazda2 will compete with the Toyota Yaris, Honda Fit, Mini, Scion tC, Nissan Versa and Kia Soul. The majority of Mazda2 sales are expected to come from the estimated 73 million “Generation Y” drivers between the ages of 16 and 32.

Mazda North American Operations senior vice president of product development and quality Robert Davis said, “We expect that for 25 percent of our buyers, this will be their first new-car purchase.” He said Mazda designers and engineers focused on providing these first-time buyers with a comfortable ride that offers responsive handling and a solid feel.

The 2011 Mazda2 pales in comparison to the 2011 Fiesta when it comes to power and torque. Ford has equipped its redesigned Fiesta with a 1.6-liter, 120-horsepower four-cylinder engine that delivers 112 pound-feet of torque. The Mazda2 comes with a 1.5-liter, 100-horsepower four-cylinder capable of 98 pound-feet of torque.

The 2011 Mazda2 offers new standard and safety equipment compared with the current model. Mazda used new materials, and manufacturing and design processes to reduce the Mazda2’s weight and boost performance.

The automaker says it was able to shave 5.7 pounds off the vehicle’s total weight by redesigning the door and hood latches, hood hinges and regulator motors located in the vehicle’s doors. Additional weight reductions were realized from Mazda’s use of ultrahigh-tensile-strength steel. Expanding the use of such materials in the body shell allowed Mazda to trim another 50 pounds and another 28 pounds was shed by replacing a number of heavier suspension components with new, lighter weight components. In all, Mazda said their efforts resulted in a 10% weight reduction for the 2011 model compared with the current version.

Mazda engineer Dave Coleman said, “We went through piece by piece and analyzed, detailed every gram we could shave off each piece.”

The Mazda2 design team focused most of their energies on improving the comfort of front seat passengers based on research that shows the majority of subcompact owners are either single or couples with no children.

Mazda expects annual sales of the Mazda2 to reach a combined 40,000 units between the U.S. and Canada. The entry-level Sport model with manual transmission will have a base sticker price of $14,730 including shipping while the top-of-the-line Touring trim package with four-speed automatic transmission will be priced starting at $16,985 including shipping.

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