Text: Vince Pornelos / Photos: Vince Pornelos | posted September 19, 2016 13:19
Enjoyable and Efficient Performance
We like the Mazda2, on that there is no question. The design, the quality, and driving enjoyment have propelled the Mazda2 to the top of our picks from the growing group of subcompact hatches.
This is the latest version of the Mazda2, one part of their Premium Series trio: the Mazda2 Midnight Edition.
Take note, the Premium Series is really a kitted out version of their Mazda2 hatchback, and that's fine. The Mazda2 is already very stylish small car to begin with. Their distinct design takes much of its inspiration from the silhouette of a fast cat like a cheetah. They call it Kodo, and it's meant to evoke dynamic motion of a fast cat from any angle hence the eyes, the shape of the fenders and the character lines. The styling of the hatchback-only Premium Series takes it even further by adding exterior enhancements with red accents such as the body kit: grille, spoiler, wraparound skirt and the front lip.
The design of the cabin gives off an aesthetic that seeks minimalism but loses none of the functionality. The dash has been shaped and designed to be driver centric, with a single tachometer flanked by two LCD screens and a digital display for the speed. There's even a heads-up display (HUD) that rises when you fire up the car so the driver doesn't have to take his eyes away from the road. What I like most is how Mazda did away with much of the buttons by consolidating them to one control panel; this is something we'd expect from premium brands like BMW or Mercedes-Benz, but not from a mass-market B-car.
Essentially the cabin is the same one found in the top-spec Mazda2, albeit with some other enhancements like the stitching on the leather. It's also worthy to note that cabin space is smaller compared to other B-cars like the Jazz, but that's alright; it's a subcompact after all.
Where the Mazda2 truly excels is in the aspect of enjoyable and efficient performance. This is a hard balance to strike, and they achieve it via SkyActiv; a full-spectrum approach to efficiency by making the car lighter through stiffer metals, coupled with smarter 6-speed automatic transmissions and naturally aspirated engines with direct injection. This Mazda2 gets the smallest engine of the SkyActiv line: the 1.5-liter twin cam four-banger that makes 108 PS and 139 Nm of torque.
Power isn't really the Mazda2's strong suit, but don't think for a second that this Mazda2 can't move. Being light, it's quick; the reason is that it has a power-to-weight ratio that's over 100 PS per metric ton. There's a sport mode switch on the shifter console, instantly transforming the Mazda2 from a sedate town tooler to a peppy little hatchback. It's fun to drive even in the city, making quick work of stoplight to stoplight sprints. Efficient too; 10.2 km/l in town (24 km/h average) and 14.9 km/l on the highway (83 km/h average).
Where the Mazda excels is when you enter a clear bit of open and winding road. The 2 possesses a lightness of being doesn't take a full on racing lesson to enjoy. The way the Mazda2 brakes, handles and accelerates out of corners is simply enjoyable, so much so that you'll have a challenging time containing a smile of unfiltered driving pleasure
At PhP 998,000, the price hike wasn't all too painful. I do wish Mazda gave the Premium Series a power hike but truth be told the car doesn't need it. Balance is what the Mazda2 is about, and their new Premium Series ups the game a bit when it came to style.