still haven't had my chance to get behind the wheel of the Mazda2 but eventually I will. The article below from InsideLine is really pushing me to go to my local Mazda dealership this weekend to finally try one out especially in manual since inside line says it's fun, and better than a lot of manual's they drove.
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After my weekend in the Explorer, I was kind of tired of electrons ruining my day so when the car sign-out board hit my desk, I gravitated to the least-fancy car we have the fleet made after 1999. The Mazda 2 doesn't have nav, or iPod, or heated seat controls buried in a touch screen or even heated seats at all; it's just a car.
It only took a few seconds for me to remember one very nice thing about this car: The shifter and clutch are fantastic. The clutch is light enough to use in heavy traffic without my knee, which tried to eat its own meniscus a few years back, complaining once. It's also not so light that you need to wear racing flats to feel the catch point. It just...works. Well. I could drive this clutch in bumper-to-bumper traffic until time stopped and not feel any pain.
And then there's the shifter. This thing has a relatively long shift action, but it's light and the gates are easy to find. Beyond that, though, is the feel of the shifter. It clicks and clacks in all the right ways and makes you want to downshift through all of the gears on every deceleration and race through 'em on the way up.
It's kind of sad that people aren't driving manuals anymore, but maybe if more clutches were this intuitive and easy to modulate (**ahem** Mini ) and shifters this light-yet-rewarding (**ahem almost everyone else) they wouldn't have the stigma of being work. Or maybe this car just clicks with the way I drive. Michael Jordan seems to have a different take. *Edit: As someone just pointed out via the emails, Jay Kav agrees with me, too.*
Mike Magrath, Features Editor, Inside Line @ 14,870 miles