It has recently become a prominent practice amongst automotive manufacturers to introduce a car in two architectures, a hatchback and a sedan. The Mazda2 too is an example of such range of products. The 2 was originally revealed in 1996, and has received comprehensive updates over the past two decades. The car currently on offer in the Philippines is the fourth-generation model that features KODO design language, and gets the company’s latest SKYACTIV engine technology. While the hatchback gets a tiny cutesy look, the sedan version manages to attract eyeballs due to its lengthened architecture and enhanced road presence. As a result, the Mazda2 sedan is everything that its hatchback sister is, and everything it wanted to be.
In an extremely competent market like the Philippines, is the Mazda2 sedan capable of keeping its ground intact? We at CarBay try to find out.
Over the years, we have seen many car companies slap a trunk on their city-sized hatchbacks, in order to produce a lightweight, compact sedan. But while these sedans do manage to be functionally useful especially as compared to their hatch counterparts, the design doesn't really tick all the right boxes. But with the Mazda2, company designers have managed to break this conventional ideology.
Look at the Mazda2 sedan upfront, and it is obvious that the sedan borrows its face from the hatchback. It is predominantly the same layout that you might find in the Mazda2 hatchback, including the 5-point chrome grille, tiny headlamps with DRLs, and a wide grille.
But as we move to the side, things keep on getting a lot better. Once you reach the three quarter profile, the Mazda2 sedan starts appearing to be a notchback, with the chubby boot peeping out of the car’s smooth shoulder line. But the sense of proportion gets significantly planted in our mind after seeing the Mazda2 sedan bang from the side.
While other similar compact sedans that have been derived from hatches appear to be an afterthought, the Mazda 2’s sloping tail and a curved trunk provide the feeling of proportion to this sedan. When seen in isolation, the rear end appears to be curved and beefed up to provide an optical illusion of the car’s size. The overall styling is straightaway inspired from its elder sibling, the Mazda 3 sedan.
Dimensionally, the Sedan variant is 260 mm longer as compared to the hatchback, which manages to enhance the car’s footprint and on road appeal. Minimum cuts and creases across the body panels ensure that the Mazda2 sedan won’t look rather out of place 10 years down the line. Can it be called an evergreen look? Well, save for the front, the car is indeed an evergreen design. But the front’s multi-reflector headlight assembly and chrome strip might not appeal to a wider audience, especially for a long period of time.
Owing to a lower roof height, you need to creep in to sit inside the Mazda 2 sedan. But ingress and egress is eased due to larger doors that open wide enough. Once inside, you just can’t stop yourself from praising the sheer quality of materials used. The all black dashboard looks sporty, and has been laid out with high quality plastics.
Subtle piano black inserts around the AC vents, a contrasting line running along the width of the dash, and carbon-fiber-like panels placed around the gear lever further break the monotonicity of the cabin.
But the main highlight of the interiors is undoubtedly the chubby, aptly sized steering wheel, that also houses the multi-function buttons to manage and control all important functions and features of the car. Behind the steering wheel is the ergonomically laid out instrument panel, which features a big central dial, surrounded by two wings on each side. While the lower variants get a speedometer in the central dial, in the higher variants, the speedometer becomes a part of the MID screen on the surrounding wings, and the middle dial is occupied by a speedometer.
What comes as a stand out feature of the instrument panel is the presence of a Heads Up Display (HUD). A tiny pop-up screen on the main instrument panel showcases all important information like speed and distance covered, so that the driver doesn’t need to take his eyes off the road.
Infotainment needs of the occupants too have been taken care of, as the top-of the line Mazda 2 SKYACTIV R trim gets a 7-inch touchscreen LCD system with MP3, USB, AUX, and bluetooth support. This system also gets Mazda’s latest MZD Connect technology, which allows the user to connect a smartphone for accessing all music and social media accounts.
But being a sedan, the Mazda 2 doesn’t just need to satisfy the driver with all these bells and whistles. It ought to be a very practical car for the perfect family man. And as we move to the rear, this notion too appears to be easily achieved by this Mazda sedan. There is sufficient legroom on offer at the back, even when the front seats are placed to the height of a six-footer. The seat has been angled and padded perfectly to provide one of the most comfortable experience in its class. While there is a third headrest on offer, we don’t think the rear bench will be comfortable for the middle occupant, owing to the seat bench design and higher floor hump. Moreover, absence of rear AC vents is a glaring omission in today’s time.
The added trunk has enhanced the Mazda 2 Sedan’s boot space to 440 litres, as compared to the hatchback’s 250-litre mark. Moreover, a wider and lower boot opening ensures that the boot space is easily accessible, and you don’t have to lift luggage higher than usual.
The Mazda 2 is powered by a 1.5-litre SKYACTIV-G in-line 4 engine, with power rated at 106 hp, and peak torque at 139 Nm. This 1496 cc engine is mated to the company’s new SKYACTIV-DRIVE 6-speed automatic gearbox that also gets a sport mode for occasional spirited driving.
Push the Start button, and the engine comes to life with a mild hum. Their is no vibration or harshness that filters into the cabin when the car is idle, thus verifying the main trait of a SKYACTIV powertrain - refinement. And as we step on the throttle, the Mazda2 Sedan comes in motion at a steady pace. The power delivery is linear, but can be a bit too slow in the lower revs. But once the engine starts spinning above the 1500 rpm mark, this is one car that you will love to drive in the city. The gear ratios have been adequately spaced, thus minimizing the need to change gears in city conditions.
Driveability too is a plus point of the Mazda 2, thanks to the direct and light steering wheel. Moreover, all around visibility has been enhanced by maximizing glass area, though the tick A-pillars do create significant blind spots.
The suspension system consists of MacPherson Struts at the front, and Torsion beam at the rear. These components have been tuned to optimize ride and handling characteristics of the Mazda 2. As a result, bumps and shocks from minor potholes are easily absorbed by the suspension, though larger potholes do unnerve the car, especially the rear end. Handling has been optimized by minimizing vertical sway and body roll. As a result, the Mazda 2 feels planted even at high speeds, and can tackle some aggressive cornering as well.
In the Philippines, Mazda 2 is offered in three variants - Skyactiv S, Skyactiv V, and Skyactiv R.
Well, there is nothing in the world that is free of limitations, and the Mazda2 is no exception. Yes! it is a proportionate design that will appeal to a wide range. Then there is the spare tyre, which is actually a space saver with a recommended upper speed limit of 80 kmph. So if you ever get a flat tyre far away from home, you are bound to get late for supper. And if we start nitpicking, the tachometer is a tad too small for a car of this size, and hence reading it requires squinting your eyes. The Mazda2 makes perfect sense for a buyer who is looking for a city car, that can do occasional highway trips, while carrying 4 or 5 occupants and a hefty load of luggage. It undoubtedly is the most proportionally designed three-box car south of the PhP 1 Billion tag.