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Mazda brought the Mazda2 out at the bottom of its lineup, a small car hovering around the $15K price point designed to appeal to Americans' increasing interest in economical vehicles.

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Although it shares a platform with the Ford Fiesta, the two cars look nothing alike. Mazda's current design language is evident in the Mazda2, such as in the front-end grin.

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A variable valve timed 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine powers the Mazda2. It produces 100 horsepower and 98 pound-feet of torque.

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Although compact, we found the cabin reasonably roomy. Adults can even sit comfortably in the rear seats.

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To cut costs, Mazda uses drum brakes at the rear. Disc brakes are used in front.

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The Mazda2 exhibits similar handling characteristics to the Ford Fiesta, with sprightly cornering and good damping.

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The rear seats fold down, maximizing cargo space.

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The cabin looks good, but hard plastics dominate the dashboard. Mazda offers no cabin tech options with the car.

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Even though standard cabin tech is limited to the radio, Mazda loads up the steering wheel with buttons in this Touring trim level car.

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The Mazda2 Touring features a trip computer, but we found that the average fuel economy shown was much higher than our real tank average.

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A five-speed manual transmission is standard with the Mazda2, with a four-speed automatic optional. We recommend the manual.

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Extensive audio controls dot the left spoke of the steering wheel.

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The standard stereo reads MP3 CDs and has an auxiliary input. There is no iPod integration or satellite radio.

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