Hatchbacks make a lot of sense in the hustle and bustle of the metro. Its compact size, easy maneuverability, versatility and good fuel economy,make it the ideal vehicle for the busy urban lifestyle.

Mazda's offering in the subcompact hatchback segment is the Mazda2. It may be the smallest car in the company's portfolio but it offers an impressive list of credentials. One of them was winning the 2014-2015 Japan Car of the Year, beating the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and the BMW i3. 

For us to see what makes the Mazda2 an award winning car, Mazda Philippines held a media drive to experience what Mazda's newest hatchback has to offer.

2015 Mazda 2 Drive front shot

Dubbed as “Beyond Expectations”, the participants of the drive were instructed to meet at the company’s dealership in Pasig City. After a short briefing, the group went to the first pit stop which was at Nuvali in Santa Rosa, Laguna.

We arrived at our first destination (in a Mazda 3) and went to Conti’s for some breakfast. At the same time, Mazda conducted an overview of the drive and gave the participants their respective vehicle assignment. It was time to see what the Mazda2 had to offer.

2015 Mazda 2 Drive rear shot

From the outside, the Mazda2 hatch looks sportier compared to its previous model thanks to the curves and lines that, according to Mazda, mimic the pouncing motion of a cheetah. Up front, it is fitted with sharp-looking headlights, an aggressive bumper and a sculpted hood. The fascia is further highlighted by the black grill and chrome trim. At the back, the new Mazda2 has distinctive taillights, a large bumper, a roof-mounted spoiler and the car sits on 15-inch alloy wheels. 

2015 Mazda 2 Drive dashboard shot

The Mazda2 puts on a good impression with its interior. On top of the dash sits an audio display like those found in European cars. Reminding the driver that he or she is driving a sporty looking car are round aircon vents, a three-spoke steering wheel with audio-mounted controls. Keeping the sporty theme are fabric seats with contrast red stitching.

Powering the 2015 Mazda2 is a 1.5-liter SkyActiv engine that delivers 108 PS and 139 Nm of torque. It is connected to a six-speed automatic transmission with Sport mode.

On the highway, the Mazda2 felt peppy and responsive. The 1.5L SkyActiv engine provided good acceleration even on normal Drive mode. The transmission shifts smoothly at around the 3000rpm mark. With Sport mode engaged, the Mazda2’s transmission will shift at a higher RPM, improving throttle response and allowing the vehicle to accelerate quicker.

2015 Mazda 2 Drive engine shot

The new Mazda2 continued to impress as we made our way into the tight roads of Liliw, Laguna. As we weaved through tight rural traffic, we made good use of the Mazda2's light steering and agile handling. It was responsive and provided good acceleration that allowed us to overtake tricycles and other slower vehicles. Furthermore, this Mazda2 can take a hit from potholes and uneven road surface. From Liliw to Los Banos, Laguna, it registered 12 km/l while driving with an average speed of 31 km/h.

After a quick stop at Nurture Spa in Tagaytay, we embarked on a 68 km drive to Pico de Loro Beach & Country Club in Nasugbu, Batangas. The Mazda2's chassis shone the brightest when we tackled the winding roads to reach our last stop. The car felt light on its feet, showing that Mazda puts in a lot of time for handling and driving satisfaction. We arrived at Pico de Loro and the hatchback didn't even break a sweat.

All in all, the 2015 Mazda2 lives up, even exceeds, first impressions. With its sprightly handling and peppy engine, it was now east to see why it was named 2014-2015 Japan Car of the Year. For 2015, the Mazda2 is more than ready to challenge the other cars in its class.