Published on March 30th, 2015 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez2
Mazda 2 Sedan: no small wonder
It’s very rare that a car is truly impressive these days. The sportier cars are quick and nimble, but not truly outstanding as that generational jump during the early 1990s which produced some rather insane performance vehicles.
But I digress. The Mazda 2 is Mazda’s new B-Segment fighter, designed to go toe to toe with the likes of the Ford Fiesta, Suzuki Swift, Peugeot 208, and so on. Available in both sedan and hatchback flavours, there is only one specification- one trim level- for this model. That sounds a little strange, especially at the budget-conscious side of the car market. One trim level? It’s a bold move to make, not catering for the subtle budget differences of customers that are as small as a few thousand ringgit, which can make or break a car.
But Mazda has decided to avoid playing the budget game entirely. They’ve learned now that in order to have a dog in the fight, they would need sheer volume to drop the prices enough, and volume is something they don’t have. So they decided to head in the other direction by offering a premium product, loaded with all the specifications you would need.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about the Mazda 2 is the interior design and quality. On the design side, Mazda opted for a fantastic minimalist design, with only the entertainment system mounted front and centre. Hard plastic makes up the brunt of the dashboard, but even then there is liberal application of a leather-like (it can be very hard to tell real leather from fake leather these days) material and faux-carbon panels. It’s the opposite of boring, and it blows any interior from a rival car straight out of the water.
The cluster itself is well laid out, with a central tachometer and a digital speed readout nestled below. The standard fuel gauge and trip computer flank the tachometer for a minimalist overall design. A small heads up display allows drivers to keep their eyes on the road while keeping track of their speed- something we only started seeing in continental models over the last few years.
The Mazda 2 comes packaged with one of the more impressive entertainment systems we’ve had the pleasure of using, and this includes systems like Mercedes’ COMAND and BMW’s iDrive.
It’s slick and intuitive, easy to operate, and it even allows for touch-screen operation when at a standstill. A small pet peeve of mine is poor connectivity via Bluetooth, but the system in the Mazda 2 connects flawlessly to a range of mobile devices. The system even comes packaged with navigation, something we would never have expected in a B-segment car only 5 years ago.
The singular powertrain option for the time being is a 1.5-litre SKYACTIV petrol engine paired with a 6-speed conventional automatic transmission, with paddle shifters. Ever since the Honda Jazz and City dropped paddle shifters from their item list, this became the only car in class to offer them. The gearbox is surprisingly smooth and moderately quick, enough to satisfy a spirited driver. While torque delivery isn’t quite neck-snapping, it is consistent enough through the mid-range to allow for easy overtaking.
Besides the powertrain, the SKYACTIV generation of technology also includes chassis developments. While the previous generation Mazda 2 was a shared platform with the Ford Fiesta (which made it formidable enough), this new chassis seems to be a proper generational jump. The suspension setup errs on the side of sportiness and the tyres are of “eco-friendly” nature, but the way the Mazda 2 shifts and moves is very inspiring.
The steering is direct off-centre, and the tail only starts to shift when you approach the limit of the front tyres. Under braking the Mazda 2 does become slightly edgy, but far less twitchy than a lot of other cars in segment. And should you not feel up to the task of handling the car, there is electronic stability control as standard, along with 2 airbags to protect you if you mess up.
The Mazda 2 sedan is a fantastic package and a great alternative to the current pair of B-Segment sedan kings. In terms of value for money it delivers, and in terms of quality and prestige it goes above and beyond what is expected. And with such appreciable driving dynamics, it’s hard to find fault with the compact sedan; perhaps the only gripe would be a lack of rear legroom, but if you can get past it then the Mazda 2 sedan is an excellent choice. Those who are looking for a more frugal option may want to hold out for the diesel model which is said to come later in the year, but for now the Mazda 2 Sedan is available for RM 87,956- the same as it’s hatchback sister.