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2011 New sporty Mazda2 (base price $13,980)

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2011 New sporty Mazda2 (base price $13,980) side view

2011 New sporty Mazda2 (base price $13,980) front view2011 New sporty Mazda2 (base price $13,980) front view

2011 Mazda2 (base price $13,980)

With money tight and people (rightly) freaked out that gas prices could shoot back up to $3 per gallon (or more) at almost any time, it's likely we'll soon be seeing more and more European-style, value-priced subcompacts like the new Mazda2 on American roads.

The 2 weighs just 2,300 pounds and is only about twelve feet long, nose to tail. To get a sense of that, compare the 2 to the "compact" sized Toyota Corolla, which weighs almost 2,800 pounds and is nearly two feet longer overall (178.7 inches vs. 155.5 for the Mazda).

But though it's small outside, the 2 still manages to be reasonably roomy inside - with five-person capacity and more front seat head and legroom (39.1 inches and 42.1 inches, respectively) than a physically larger (on the outside, at least) compact sedan like the Corolla (38.8 inches and 41.7 inches). Back seat legroom is tighter in the 2, but still serviceable for carrying most average-sized adults - and the car's trunk space (28 cubic feet) is more than twice as much as the best-selling Corolla's 12.3 cubic foot trunk.

The one downside to the flyweight, Mini Me-sized Mazda 2 may be that it'll feel a bit outclassed on American highways - where the slipstream of passing semis may require a firm grip on the wheel.

Tags: #Mazda