As much as crossovers are now the de-facto choice among car buyers, a part of me wishes hatchbacks are as equally popular, too. While it may not offer more ground clearance, five-door hatchbacks can be as practical as crossovers and offer more fun behind the wheel.

But alas, with the shift towards high-riding vehicles, the arrival of competitively-priced Chinese brands, as well as the fact that higher ground clearance and water wading against floods is now a major factor when buying vehicles, hatchbacks are no longer as popular.

Despite all of those benefits, hatchbacks like the Mazda2 still hold a special place in my (long) list of cars I wish I can own. If anything, this tiny five-door hatch reminds me that your daily need not be boring or rudimentary.

It might be Mazda's most affordable vehicle, but this stylish hatchback was given a modest update inside and out, more standard features and amenities, as well as a suite of intelligent safety features. But are those enough to sway buyers from getting that brand-new crossover they've been eyeing? Do hatchbacks have a mountain to climb against the continuous onslaught of more affordable high-riding vehicles arriving in the country? And do hatchbacks like the Mazda2 still offer value for money?

2022 Mazda2 1.5L Hatchback Premium image

First, let's talk about the Mazda2's refreshed exterior. While some might say it still looks the same, Mazda went for a more subtle approach when it came to keeping the hatchback fresh. It now gets a sleeker set of LED headlights which appear to have been inspired by its bigger brother, the Mazda3. Even the grille gets a new design and is now painted gloss black for that more premium finish. It also gets new combination LED taillights that give it a more upscale look than its predecessor.

But what I really liked about the Mazda2's exterior is the color it came in, Platinum Quartz Metallic. While some will argue its shade of color is more suited for more luxurious vehicles, I have to say that it actually goes well on the hatchback. Paired with the gloss black 16-inch alloy wheels and the hatchback is quite dapper.

On looks alone, the 2022 Mazda2 Premium is a clear winner. But like all current Mazdas, the interior of these vehicles is also worth talking about. Not only is the cabin stylish, but it's also ergonomic and pleasing to the senses.

2022 Mazda2 1.5L Hatchback Premium image

Pop the doors and a predominantly black cabin greets you. However, there are neat touches of faux metal accents and piano black trim pieces which spruce up the interior of the hatchback. There are new leather seats finished in a black-blue hue and they offer plenty of support for the driver, passenger, and rear occupants. It even gets a leather padded dashboard which is not something you'd normally see on a five-door hatch.

The MZD infotainment system appears to have been carried over from the pre-facelift version. We're glad to report, however, that the system now comes with Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay. This allows drivers to use apps like YouTube Music, Spotify, Google Maps, and even Waze via the touchscreen or by voice command. Speaking of wireless, the Mazda2 also comes with a wireless charging pad for your phone. Other amenities like automatic climate control, tilt/telescopic steering, auto-dimming rearview mirror, and a 6-speaker sound system are also present in the Mazda2.

Another thing that surprised me is that the hatchback now comes with a heads-up display. Typically, this feature is only available on more expensive models like the CX-30 and the CX-5. The fact that it's present in the Mazda2 is worth noting. Not only does it help drivers monitor their speed, but it also lets the driver know someone is in their blind spot which is a good thing.

2022 Mazda2 1.5L Hatchback Premium image

While the cabin itself looks sleek and upscale, the Mazda2 doesn’t exactly excel when it comes to cabin space, particularly for those seated in the back. With my 5’8 frame in the driver’s seat, there’s only enough legroom for anyone with the misfortune of sitting behind me in the second row. Should the driver be over 6 feet tall, the rear passengers are better off sitting in a different car altogether.

It may have gotten a sleek and more upmarket refresh, but like the age-old adage of if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, this 5-door hatchback still comes with the familiar 1.5-liter SkyActiv-G four-cylinder engine. It puts out a humble 110 PS at 6000 rpm along with 141 Nm of torque at 4800 rpm. While peak pulling power is available just below 5000 rpm, this engine has a neat trick up its sleeve; direct injection and a compression ratio of 12:1.

Paired with a responsive 6-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters, the Mazda2 is still one of the zippiest and most fun-to-drive hatchbacks on the market. And what the engine lacks in sheer displacement, it makes up for in quick response and generous revs.

2022 Mazda2 1.5L Hatchback Premium image

It might have been years since I've driven a Mazda2, but with a push of a button, I quickly remember what it feels like. It may not be a hot hatch, but this refreshed Mazda2 still delivered a peppy driving experience.

Put your foot on the floor and the powertrain just comes alive with eagerness. The numbers say it only makes 110 PS but it feels like it has more as you climb up the revs. Combined with its sure-footed handling and lightweight construction, the Mazda2 will deliver. Once you're done having fun behind the wheel, however, the hatchback reverts to a normal and sedate runaround. The electronic power steering feels light when driving around town and only stiffens up when driving at highway speeds.

Perhaps one of the best features of this hatchback is its Sport Mode. While other cars also have a similar feature, the one on the Mazda2 (and any other Mazda vehicle for that matter) feels different. While the Sport Mode on other vehicles makes the car rev faster, the Sport Mode on the Mazda2 actually heightens up the powertrain entirely.

2022 Mazda2 1.5L Hatchback Premium image

Not only are the revs more aggressive but the transmission is also quicker on the shifts and holds the revs for longer. Flat out, the Mazda2 can be pretty quick and can deliver smiles per gallon if you know what I mean. It might not have a turbo, but it’s surprisingly agile and spirited.

Speaking of agility, the Mazda2 is still one of the best handling mass-market hatchbacks in the segment. The electronic power steering (EPS) is finely weighted and actually delivers feedback to the steering wheel. Combined with a quick-steer ratio and a firm suspension, the Mazda2 is fun to drive on winding roads and narrow side streets.

What's the drawback? Since it has a stiffer suspension than most hatchbacks, riding comfort isn't exactly great on the Mazda2. Whether you're seated at the front or at the back, you will feel every bump on the road due to the firmer dampers. And while quick-steer is great when driving spiritedly, it's a bit more difficult to use when you're trying to make tight maneuvers like a K-turn or when going around a narrow U-turn.

2022 Mazda2 1.5L Hatchback Premium image

When it comes to fuel consumption, the Mazda2 did not disappoint. With just me inside the hatchback, it was able to return a meager 18.0 km/l at highway speeds with not much overtaking. In light city traffic, the Mazda2 averaged around 9.5 to 10.0 km/l.

For extra peace of mind while on the road, the Mazda2 Premium comes with i-Activsense. This gives the humble hatch a plethora of smart driver aids like front and rear city brake support, lane departure warning, driver attention alert, rear cross-traffic alert, and the previously mentioned blind-spot monitoring.

2022 Mazda2 1.5L Hatchback Premium image

While having intelligent driver aids is a good thing, the fact that it doesn't come with adaptive cruise control bothered me. Since the system is already set up for the car to have one thanks to its radars and active sensors, I find it odd Mazda missed that part. As the saying goes “it's better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it”.

So the 2022 Mazda2 1.5 Premium comes with plenty of features, is brimming with character and style, and is equipped with a plethora of safety equipment. Combined with its sporty driving characteristics and agile handling, it has a lot going for it. Sure it doesn't exactly have the roomiest of interiors, but if that's not your main concern, then it may be negligible for some.

2022 Mazda2 1.5L Hatchback Premium image

But with a price tag of PHP 1,195,000, this five-door hatchback is selling for crossover money. Heck, even some crossovers nowadays are only selling for less than a million Pesos. Sure, you do get plenty of toys and gizmos in the Mazda 2 Premium. But at that price tag, buyers might go for something else entirely to spend their near PHP 1.2 million budget. And if you prefer your Mazda 2 to come in Soul Red or Machine Gray, you have to pay an extra PHP 22,400 or PHP 16,800, respectively.

If you love hatchbacks and don't see money as a hurdle, sure why not get one? To be fair it's a fun little hatchback, but it's no Mini Cooper.

  • Make: Mazda
  • Model: Mazda2 1.5L Hatchback Premium
  • Engine: 1.5-liter DOHC 16-valve SkyActiv-G inline-four
  • Max Power: 110 PS @ 6000 rpm
  • Max Torque: 141 Nm @ 4800 rpm
  • Transmission: 6-speed automatic, FWD
  • Price as Tested: ₱1,195,000

8/10

Performance

9/10

Design

8/10

Handling

6/10

Comfort

5/10

Value

7/10

Overall