A Rising Tide Lifts All…0
As little as a few years ago, a vehicle in this segment might sit the weekend at AutoPacific, with few takers interested in trading their personal rides for a weekend in an econo-box. But times have changed, and economy compact cars have changed with them. The 2011 Mazda 2 in AutoPacific’s fleet was signed out long before it arrived.
Over the past decade, we’ve seen drastic improvements in vehicles in general, and small cars have improved with the rest of the market. B-Segment cars in international markets have developed past the basic econo-box Americans remember. We are just beginning to see these improvements on vehicles here in the states and the 2011 Mazda is a great example.
Probably the most stylish exterior in the segment, the Mazda 2 has a rising beltline that gives the car a mildly aggressive look. Our Touring model included an upgraded seat fabric with red piping, alloy wheels, fog lights, rear roof spoiler, leather wrapped steering wheel with audio and cruise controls, trip computer, and two extra speakers.
On the road the Mazda 2 rivals the Honda Fit for fun, and is certainly more fun to drive than others in this segment, including the Toyota Yaris. Mazda will get stiff competition from platform competition, the Ford Fiesta. In addition, the segment is exploding with activity, including the Chevrolet Spark and Aveo. For Mazda, however, this influx of players will likely increase consideration in the segment overall, which could help the Mazda 2.
The Future of US Motoring?
Unloading the Mazda over the weekend, a neighbor commented, “The future of US motoring, huh?” While we’re not forecasting a European embrace of the economy compact segment, AutoPacific sees cars like the Mazda 2 increasing in sales over the coming years. More offerings are coming from various players who are hedging that fuel price instability will continue to push consumers towards the segment. While common in Europe, we have yet to see a steady migration of US buyers to this segment. We generally see US consumers temporarily jump to this segment in a knee-jerk reaction to fuel price instability, only to retreat back to larger vehicles when the growth in fuel prices is less volatile.
While we see this reaction when studying consumer segment intention and vehicle sales, we have yet to see what converts to this segment will do over time. There is a lot to be said for the style, comfort, economy and yes, fun, that the Mazda 2 offers. Perhaps vehicles like the Mazda 2 will be more than a fad.