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Behind the wheel of the new 2011 MAZDA2

A small car with good looks, gas mileage and an affordable sticker. Mazda is hoping to offer a little Zoom-Zoom for every one.

The base price starts at just under $14,000 and tops out at about $17,000. Fuel economy up to 35 miles per-gallon, made possible with an attention to weight savings and aerodynamics.

I didn’t get to spend a lot of time behind the wheel at this press event. I will hold off on making a judgment on the MAZDA2 until I get to spend a little more time in the car.

Mazda says opulence is out, sensible is in. We will see if the American market agrees. Originally launched in Europe, Japan and Australia; it has been the recipient of many awards since its debut in 2007.

Mazda has managed to squeeze a lot of standard safety and luxury features into even the base model.

The 2011 MAZDA2 is available in two trim levels – the entry-level Sport and Touring. Both trim levels are powered by a 100 horsepower, 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine, available with either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. Standard features include 15-inch steel wheels with full wheel covers, 185/55/R15 all-season tires, body-colored door handles and power mirrors, air conditioning, power windows and door locks, AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo with four speakers, audio auxiliary jack, tilt steering wheel, remote keyless entry system, rear window wiper/washer and 60/40 split fold-down rear seats.

The MAZDA2 Touring takes everything on the MAZDA2 Sport and adds upgraded seat fabric with red piping, 15-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, rear roof spoiler, chrome exhaust tip, leather-wrapped steering wheel-mounted audio and cruise controls, trip computer and a six-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo system.

Available accessories include a rear bumper guard, wheel locks (Touring models only), all-weather floor mats, cargo net, center console with armrest and auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass, Homelink® and orange backlit buttons.

MAZDA2 Sport with 5-speed manual transmission features a manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of $13,980, while the top-of-the-line MAZDA2 Touring with 4-speed automatic transmission has a MSRP of $16,235.

Tell us what you think of the MAZDA2. Will you be considering this as your next ride, maybe in spirited green metallic?

Look for a full review and more information as soon as we get are hands on one for a little longer.