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L.A. Auto Show: 2011 Mazda 2's North American debut

December 3, 2009 | 10:29 pm
Mazda introduced its 2011 Mazda 2 to North America at this week's L.A. Auto Show. And possibly a new take on brand rebadging.

Historically, Mazda and Ford have been good practitioners of sharing platforms, chassis, engines and other components, without it being immediately obvious to the consumer. Think Mazda 6 and Ford Fusion or Mazda 3 and Ford Focus. Park either of those cousins next to one another, and an automotive neophyte could be forgiven for thinking they have nothing in common. That all changed this week when Mazda unveiled its 2 and Ford pulled the wraps off its 2011 Fiesta (for the 2011th time).

Though no one with proper vision is going to think they're the same car, the Mazda 2 and Ford Fiesta are so similar, it will be interesting to see which demographic each attracts. Regardless of the people the 2 pulls into showrooms, if the global reception of the car is any indication, there will be plenty of takers. Mazda's 2 has been on sale worldwide since 2007 and in that time, has snagged enough awards (48) to fill its adorable little trunket and reach sales of about 370,000.

2-side_use Mazda was mum on details like horsepower, though it did reveal that the engine would be a 1.5 liter unit mated to your choice of a four-speed automatic or a five-speed manual. For comparison's sake, the aFORDmentioned Fiesta (see what I did there?) is a 1.6 liter unit and it pumps out 119 horsepower, so expect similar numbers for the Mazda. Mazda also declined to reveal gas mileage, but again, the Ford has a projected highway fuel economy of about 40 mpg, so it's reasonable to expect the same from a Mazda 2 with a similar drive train and curb weight. If Mazda does hit that number, it would put its highway mileage well above similar subcompacts like the Toyota Yaris, Honda Fit and Nissan Versa.

As Mazda North America President and Chief Executive Jim O'Sullivan said, "It's the right Mazda for the right time." It may also be the right Ford for the right time.

The 2011 Mazda 2 will be available in the U.S. in the late summer of 2010.

-- David Undercoffler

Photos: 2009 L.A. Auto Show: Production Cars
Photos: 2009 L.A. Auto Show: Concept Cars

Photos: 2009 L.A. Auto Show: Green Cars

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Photos: (Top) Mazda President Takashi Yamanouchi, left, and Mazda North America President Jim O'Sullivan flank the 2011 Mazda 2. Credit: David Undercoffler / Los Angeles Times