City Driving

City driving is the Mazda2's forte. I drove the Mazda2 with both available transmissions: a five-speed manual and a four-speed automatic. Obviously, having the right gear on hand for quick maneuvers is simple with the manual because you control the gear selection, but the automatic is also very well-matched to the engine. When I wanted to zip into a spot in traffic, the automatic usually chose the right gear.

The manual has a light clutch that's easy to feel when it's picking up the gear, and the shifter is short and direct. There's none of the rubbery feeling that can plague some entry-level cars. It's fun to shift through the gears in the Mazda2, and it happens with a good, solid feeling.
The steering is also good. It's very light and quick, but it doesn't feel over-boosted or twitchy in city driving. It just felt like I was steering a very light car — because I was. Like the transmission, the steering feels like it's dialed-in well to the car. The same can be said for the brakes: Instead of a mushy pedal, it gave me the right amount of feedback to judge how hard I needed to press the pedal to stop. There isn't a lot of effort required, mind you, but the brakes are easy to get a feel for. It cornered well, too, even in the tight confines of Chicago.


All the stuff that makes you stop, go and turn is really well-tuned. The car feels like a unified machine, ready to zip wherever you want it to in the city.


There was only one real issue I noticed: The sloping A-pillar (the one that supports the windshield) can obscure pedestrians stepping off the curb. I got used to it the more I drove, but you'll have to judge for yourself. Other than that, visibility is really good.

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