First Look: 2011 Mazda Mazda2

Ford may be throwing a party for its new Fiesta at the 2009 Los Angeles auto show, but it’s not the only automaker introducing a subcompact hatchback into North America. In fact, Mazda’s using the same venue to launch its 2011 Mazda 2 into the New World.

It’s not entirely surprising if the 2 and the Fiesta bear a passing resemblance to each other. Although each has distinct styling and unique powertrain offerings, they both ride on the same global DE platform. Both are front-wheel-drive, sport MacPherson struts up front, and a trailing beam axle in back — although Mazda does claim the 2 is tuned to carry that “zoom-zoom” feel.

Of course, the 2 is its own vehicle, and isn’t a badge-engineered Fiesta (or vice versa) in the least. Mazda’s “Nagare” design language is in full force here, and the 2 resembles a bite-sized Mazda3 hatchback. In fact, the new front fascia on the U.S.-spec car perpetuates that look, as the lower grille opening apes that introduced on the 2009 Mazda3.

Unlike the Fiesta, the Mazda2 will only be available as a four-door hatchback (a sedan is sold in other markets), and will be equipped with a 1.5-liter I-4 in lieu of the revised 1.6-liter four-cylinder making its way into the Fiesta. Mazda hasn’t released final power figures for the engine, but if it’s similar to the European-spec motor, expect output to be somewhere within the neighborhood of 112 hp and 103 lb-ft of torque.

A five-speed manual transmission is standard, but those looking for a two-pedal setup will have to opt for a four-speed automatic — the six-speed dual-clutch transmission will remain a Fiesta exclusive.

Final specifications and pricing have yet to be released, but look for the Mazda2 to arrive at dealers in the summer of 2010.