Loaded With Value And Driving Thrills
Car enthusiasts love driving, and we’re at our element when we’re in a fun to drive, sporty car. Not everyone can afford a Mazda MX-5, or any other sports car for that matter, but it doesn’t mean you have to suffer from driving a car that’s as exciting as a refrigerator. You want something fun to drive that you can afford? Listen to my advice, and that’s what Go Flat Out is for. It’s all about #TheJoyOfDriving, so here’s why you should buy the 2018 Mazda 2 Sedan 1.5 V+.
And it starts with how the car looks. Granted the hatchback model looks sexier and more cohesive, no thanks to the sedan’s high trunk, the Mazda 2 sedan is a looker in its own right. Especially from the car’s first half, the Mazda 2 Sedan is the best looking in the segment in my opinion. Standard daytime running lights make the car have more road presence, and new for the 2018 model year are redesigned side mirror mounted LED turn signals and LED foglights. Mazda’s Kodo design language prevents the subcompact sedan from looking boring, with its large grille, flanked by the halogen headlights, and a character line that emphasizes the car’s long hood, runs from the headlights, all the way to the back. The tail lights give a distinct look at night. The top trim 1.5 R has a standard subtle (low-key) bodykit that makes it even a looker and balances the proportions well. It’s an option that can be added to other variants, and in my opinion, it’s a great option to add to the Mazda 2 Sedan 1.5 V+ as it makes the car much sexier.
In my opinion, Mazda makes the most interesting interiors among all mainstream car brands. As Mazda is trying to elevate its image, their interiors are far from conventional and cheap. It’s filled with interesting shapes, textures, and surfaces that make it feel premium and interesting inside the cabin, whereas other subcompacts end up feeling tacky and trying hard in the process of supposedly making their interiors more upmarket. The gauges are housed in a binnacle that’s flanked by two LCD screens that display the digital tachometer and the multi-information display, while the tablet-style 7-inch TFT LCD infotainment screen for the MZD Connect infotainment system elevates the car’s premium aspirations. It is something that wouldn’t look out of place in a German luxury car. I’m a fan of the round aircon vents, as it feels like it’s been lifted from the Audi A1 supermini, and that speaks with the car’s interior as a whole. The seats are well padded, supportive, and have excellent bolstering, keeping you in check under hard cornering, and pays dividends to the car’s sporty aspirations. The interior is so well designed and so well implemented, the technology and features work so well together to bring a cohesive package that feels premium and elevated from the competition.
Space and Practicality
The Mazda 2 Sedan’s tall, albeit awkward trunk pays dividends to the space it gives. It has a generous 368-liter trunk, and it’s aided by the 60:40 split folding rear seats for more versatility. The glove box is also generous, and there are small storage places around the center console.
Features, Safety, and Infotainment
With its generous amount of kit, I personally think the Mazda 2 Sedan 1.5 V+ is literally the best value among the entire subcompact sedan segment. It’s loaded with kit that’s not even found in the highest variants of most of its competitors. The Mazda 2 includes features such as a rear view camera with parking sensors and parking diagram, automatic climate control, passive entry and push button start (with the added convenience of walk away auto lock), Mazda Drive Mode Selector, and the excellent MZD Connect infotainment system with Bluetooth and Navigation.
I can’t stress enough how much I prefer using MZD Connect with its rotary knob control logic that’s inspired from BMW’s iDrive, Audi’s MMI, and Mercedes-Benz’s COMAND compared to using a touch screen. Using a knob is seriously better for your cognitive muscle memory than relying on a touch screen, as it lets you keep track of your movements through the menus with merely just the feedback of the clicking wheel. This helps avoid driver distraction while using the infotainment system, though MZD Connect can be operated through touch while the car is stationary. I hope every manufacturer would one day think of utilizing such a system.
Safety-wise, the Mazda 2 1.5 V+ has dual airbags plus standard traction control system, a move I applaud, as other manufacturers tend to reserve this important and critical feature in their top trim variants. We at Go Flat Out thinks that any form of traction control system should be standard on all cars these days.
The Mazda 2 Sedan 1.5 V+ is powered by Mazda’s Skyactiv-G 1.5 liter petrol engine with direct injection and a high compression ratio of 13:1. It produces 108 hp @ 6,000 rpm and 139 Nm of torque @ 4,000 rpm. It is mated to a 6-speed Skyactiv Drive automatic transmission.
How It Drives
I’ve been a big fan of Mazda’s driving dynamics, having driven a Mazda 3 during my days while learning to drive at A1, so my relationship with the brand is great, despite me choosing the 2012 Honda Civic 1.8 EXI when I was finally able to buy my own car. This would be the first time I would be taking a Mazda for about a week, and it’s enough for me to get re-acquainted to the brand. Steering is well-weighted and sharp, having a decent amount of feedback, even on-center, and it avoids feeling like a video game unlike most electrically assisted steering racks nowadays. With the car’s tight turning radius and easy steering, the Mazda 2 is about as easy as any small sedan gets when nipping through gaps in traffic.
Get out on the open road and give the Mazda 2 just a little prod of the gas pedal, the 6-speed automatic downshifts almost telepathically into the correct gear. During normal driving, the paddle shifters are almost always not needed. While the numbers the engine produces won’t set any monkey’s pants on fire, it rarely ever feels lacking in power, thanks to its excellent torque curve, and the excellent tandem between the engine and automatic gearbox. As a matter of fact, this engine and transmission combo is enough for the subcompact sedan to sprint from 0-100 kph in the high 9-second range, faster than most subcompact cars except for the Ford Fiesta EcoBoost.
When I drove the Mazda 3 during my A1 days, I criticized it for its harsh and stiff ride, and the latest crop of vehicles from Mazda have fixed that. Cars with sporty suspensions tend to have firm rides, and subcompact sedans with crude torsion beam rear suspensions tend to bottom out under poor road conditions, but the Mazda 2’s ride has an air of sophistication that only the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo can match. The chassis and body is so rigid for its class that it avoids the wobbly feeling when driving it on poor road conditions. It’s more of a teutonic (Germanic) driving experience rather than something that feels Asian. Because of this, the Mazda 2 easily tops the Volkswagen Polo as my best driving car for the segment.
But then, not all roads in the Philippines are free from traffic, because if there are things that are certain in this country, it’s death, taxes, and (rush hour) traffic. While you’re at it, you get to appreciate how ergonomically well thought out the Mazda 2’s driving position is. While this mid-level V+ lacks a center armrest, the door armrest height is perfectly levelled with the steering. The driving position is low, and the pedal positioning is excellent. Ever since I got stuck in rush hour SLEX traffic, I now have a bigger appreciation of floor mounted (organ type) gas pedals since then. The floor mounted pedal also acts as a foot rest during bumper-to-bumper traffic, and wholly helps in lessening driver fatigue. Guys, never take your floor mounted gas pedals for granted ever again.
Since I live in Nuvali, and I drive mostly in Sta. Rosa and Cavite, traffic is something I only experience during rush hour, weekends, and whenever Nuvali’s Field Of Lights are on. Because of this, I was able to net an average fuel consumption of 11 km/l, and it can even go as high as 12.1 during completely clear days. With spirited driving in the hidden B-roads that our place is filled and completely relying on the paddle shifters, the worst I could possibly do was 9.3 km/l, which is excellent for a car that doesn’t have a boring CVT tranny that most competitors utilize. G-Vectoring Control further livens the driving experience by offering agile handling, better cornering, and higher grip limits than ever before, and Sport Mode is the cherry on top of a yummy milkshake concoction.
On The Downside
The Mazda 2’s goal is to offer a pleasurable driving experience above all else, but I really wish it wasn’t at the detriment to practicality. I couldn’t find a nice place to store my phone while it charges via the USB, so I had to use the cup holders as storage, but that leaves me a place where I couldn’t put my drink, so I have to choose. Either I charge my phone, or have a drink. That continues on to the rear, too. Rear seat space is generally okay, but tall people will have their knees almost brushing against the front seats when set in a tall person’s position, and while the front doors have large door bins that can store a water bottle, the rear doors don’t get any form storage at all.
Lack of storage solutions aside, the Mazda 2 Sedan 1.5 V+ is one of Go Flat Out’s highest rated cars, and makes it our top choice in the subcompact sedan segment. It scores excellently in all but the space and practicality aspect. In a world where cars are treated as either appliances or mere fashion statements, the Mazda 2 keeps its ethos of being the driving enthusiast’s choice. While generally, most people merely treat cars as an appliance or a tool to go to their destination, there will always be the people where getting to the destination is the main event. As I have said in the beginning, not everyone can afford a sports car, but that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to be in a car that’s fun to drive, and yet, here it is, the Mazda 2 Sedan 1.5 V+ is the most fun you could get brand-new under P950,000 (post TRAIN vehicle excise tax), and the best value for money in the subcompact sedan segment that you, the driving enthusiast deserves. In a world of limited resources and vehicle excise taxes, time is too short to drive boring cars, and that’s why the Mazda 2 Sedan 1.5 V+ is here for you. To further make the ownership experience fun, Mazda’s YOJIN3 includes free 3-year maintenance and roadside assistance that’ll surely save you a lot of dough in the long run.
Exterior Design: ★★★★☆
Interior Design: ★★★★★
Space and Practicality: ★★★☆☆
Fuel Efficiency: ★★★★★
Value For Money: ★★★★★
Overall: 4.5 out of 5