Mazda is certainly on a roll in the Philippines. The brand more known for rotary power is now also recognized for Kodo and SkyActiv (Mazda speak for their design language and powertrain tech). One of the brand's best-sellers include the Mazda3, CX-5 and this, the Mazda2.
Introduced in the Philippine market back in April 2015 during the Manila International Auto Show, the new-generation B-segment contender gets a more striking exterior, as well as a sportier cabin. All that is then topped by a new 1.5-liter engine that aims to deliver more power while consuming less fuel.
We already tested the 5-door mid-range variant of the Mazda2 last year. But now, we get our hands on the 4-door version which now come with several upgrades for 2016. Now called the V+, the B-segment sedan now packs new standard equipment both inside and outside. Will the new additions hurt its competitive price? Let's take a closer look.
Right off the bat, Mazda's Kodo design on the sedan gave the car a very sleek finish. It's not as aggressive as the hatchback, but think of the Mazda2 sedan as a smaller four-door version of the Mazda3. It stills sits on 15-inch alloy wheels but with a keen eye, one will notice that the V+ gets a subtle bodykit. The front bumper now has a chin spoiler while the side sills get black side skirts. Topping it all off are the new rear bumper and the mini trunklid spoiler.
Dressing up the Mazda2's exterior was all well and good but what really impressed me was the upgraded cabin amenities. Compared to the previous V variant, the more decked-out V+ now has new features which were originally found only on their Premium Series models.
It now has Mazda's MZD Connect infotainment system, as well as automatic climate control. Moving through the menus with the command wheel control was very easy though those that want to use their fingers to go through the different settings can also tap the screen. It supports AM/FM radio, USB (2x ports ), Aux, Bluetooth and even has navigation, voice control and a fuel monitoring app as standard.
In terms of trim, it gets new black sporty fabric seats, fabric door cards with carbon fiber inserts and a leather-wrapped steering wheel which felt smooth to the touch. To further distinguish itself from the previous V model, the V+ Mazda2 gets red accents on the aircon vents and dashboard trim.
It also gets paddle shifters, height adjustable driver's seat and a telescopic steering rack which makes for better driver reach. For good measure, Mazda even threw in a back-up camera, rear parking sensors and dynamic stability control.
All in all, I describe the Mazda2's interior as sporty, engaging, well-screwed together and very appealing. Perhaps the only drawback I found inside the sedan is the legroom, or lack thereof. With my 5'7 frame, there is just enough space at the back. Anyone taller and there's practically no legroom at all. The seats were comfortable though I wished there was more lumbar support.
Driving the front wheels is a 1.5-liter SkyActiv-G inline-four that's married to a 6-speed automatic transmission. It has a maximum output of 108 PS at 6000 rpm along with 139 Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm. The figures may look similar with other B-segment contenders, but do remember this has SkyActiv tech.
Driving around town, the powertrain was smooth and there was adequate pulling power down below. Relatively lightweight at 1,043 kg, the Mazda2 is also spritely when driven with enthusiasm along narrow side streets and deserted back roads. It's even easy to throw into turns thanks to its tight turning radius (4.7m) and finely-tuned electronic power steering.
Shift the transmission to manual mode and turn on Sport and the powertrain comes alive. Up on mountain roads, the Mazda2 stayed planted thanks to the firm yet forgiving suspension. The 1.5-liter engine also didn't let up the power and maintained the revs until the redline.
Out on the highway, the Mazda2 essentially becomes a very smooth cruiser. The engine practically idles when one keeps a steady foot at around 80 km/h. In light city traffic, the Mazda2 posted an admirable 9.6 km/l. Heavier traffic returned around 7.5 – 8.0 km/l. At highway speeds however, it will average 16.3 km/l which was great.
When Mazda Philippines first brought their new-gen B-segment contender, they were able to introduce a pretty good model lineup. Some may argue that they are a bit on the expensive side, but you do pay for the very nice cabin, plenty of standard features, great handling and a real peppy powertrain. It has the makings of a great four-door for first time car buyers or for those looking for a second runaround. But the limited legroom at the back could turn off buyers. It does makeup however with generous trunk space.
At PhP 895,000, the V+ Mazda2 is pretty pricey indeed but now gets standard equipment from the more expensive variants. The previous four-door was cheaper at PhP 865,000 but did not have MZD, reverse camera, rear parking sensors, auto climate control and a bodykit. To me, that makes the 2016 Mazda2 V+ a sound investment thanks to the addition of these features.