Mazda2 Premium – an enthusiast’s thesis defense

Small hatchbacks are usually stereotyped as entry level cars. You’ll almost never see them with more upmarket features until recently when they started having Push Start ignition, Power Folding side mirrors, and Engine Start-Stop system. Still they feel very basic because they have to be practical, and that means chasing an entry-level pricing.

Mazda probably said “What’s entry-level anyway?” If it costs more than a million then so be it. This is why the Mazda2 Premium is a lone wolf. It’s slightly smaller than a subcompact hatchback, priced like a crossover, but has amenities of a much more expensive sedan. I drove one to see if it was worth its salt.

It’s an old song at this point, but still a good one at that – the Mazda2 looks like its bigger brothers from all corners. Sleek headlights, distinct grille design, the disappearing character lines at the sides, and the minimalist rear end. It’s also well equipped for its size with LED headlights with auto levelling, LED DRL, 16-inch gloss black alloy wheels, and power folding side mirrors. Clearly, this isn’t your typical entry-level hatch despite its size.

That becomes more obvious once you get inside the Mazda2. Leather upholstery, soft touch materials on the dashboard, wireless charger, a heads-up display – things you’ve never seen on a small hatchback before, unless you already have another premium brand car. I also like the subtle difference against other premium cars with the use of navy blue leather on the panels, dashboard, and seats.

Compromise is inevitable though as the Mazda2 makes do with manual handbrake and manual climate control – things that are already electrified in this price point nowadays. Then again, those two are the small trades for a slew of upmarket features and I can’t really complain.

If you think the Mazda2 is small from the outside, it gets a bit more tight once you’re in the cabin. The dark interior combined with the thick door panels result in a more compact cabin horizontal-wise. Legroom at the rear is also just enough that if the front occupants are 5’8 and above, goodluck having space infront of your knees. But if all occupants are of average height and build, there’ll be no problem here.

The good news is that because of the thick panels in the cabin, it’s very quiet here once you’re out on the road. Only trucks and loud motorcycles can cut through. The engine is also very quiet until you reach 3,000rpm and above (where it produces a pleasant roar) leading to a quiet drive for the average user.

Driving the Mazda2 is addicting to say the least. It’s just so good. The 1.5-liter engine under the hood might not seem much with only 110PS of power but man, combined with the 6-speed automatic and its small body, it’s like a kid on chocolate. Lively, has much gusto, and keeps on giving you more. It doesn’t have any problem reaching the speed limit and even doing overtakes at 100kph is a cinch. Fuel efficiency is also no problem as it returned 8.7km/l in the city with traffic, and 24.3 km/l on the highway when cruising at 85kph.

Uphill climbs are also no problem and will give you immense joy as it did with me when I took it to Timberland in San Mateo, Rizal. It will give you the right balance of confidence and response that you know when to push or when to back off for a bit. The steering is so responsive that little corrections are felt even at cruising speeds. Despite that, it’s easy to use in parking places and tight maneuvers.

And when you’re back in the city, you have a moment all by yourself thanks to the quiet cabin of the Mazda2. You’ll only hear your thoughts, and your music, and not much of the background noise outside. Enjoy the plush leather inserts, the seats that hug you just in the right way, and be revitalized for another hectic drive to the office the next day.

But what the Mazda2 really imparted in me is that there’s joy in lower numbers. You don’t need a turbo or get a ticket for going 160 on an expressway in order to enjoy driving this hatch. It’s a little bundle of fun that will put a smile on your face as you tackle corners at 40kph.

This Mazda2 Premium isn’t light on the pocket as expected from its features. It comes with a price tag of P1,220,000 which is as far from practical as it could be. At that range, there are a lot of crossovers, 7-seater MPVs, and bigger sedans you can choose from. So why would you go for a small, premium hatchback?

Simple – the way it drives. Sure, there are the turbo-driven choices like the Geely Coolray but straight line speed isn’t everything. Once you tackle epic corners like those in Marilaque, Nasugbu, or Talisay Road, you’ll understand that there’s pleasure at 40kph on a winding road. Even I made a night drive to Timberland Heights in San Mateo, Rizal just to enjoy the sheer driving prowess of this little beast. Non-driving enthusiasts wouldn’t get it since apart from the plush cabin amenities, most of what you’re paying for in the Mazda2 lies in its driving dynamics. That’s why if the purchasing decision isn’t solely yours, you have to come up with the best argument for it like it’s a thesis defense. Trust me, it will be all worth it.

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