The all-new Mazda 2 SKYACTIV is currently the smallest model in Mazda's line-up. But despite its size, the Japanese automaker claims that it packs the same character and driving experience as its bigger brothers. So, we tried to find out if it was true.
To do this, Berjaya Auto Philippines, the exclusive distributor of Mazda in the country, took us on a 300 km road trip down south where we got a good first hand experience of the new '2' in both hatchback and sedan versions.
But before we got behind the wheel, they gave us a quick lesson on what “KODO – Soul of Motion” really means. This is the brand's latest design philosophy that shaped its bigger brothers such as the Mazda 3, Mazda 6, CX-5, MX-5, and now, the all-new Mazda 2 SKYACTIV. According to Mazda, 'KODO' was inspired by an animal's natural movement in the wild that resemble the pouncing motion of a cheetah. The headlights, on the other hand, are its eyes. To their credit, it does which explains why the '2' looks like a downsized '3' or '6'.
After the brief lecture, we hopped on board a Mazda 2 SKYACTIV-G 1.5 S sedan and began the long journey to Nasugbu, Batangas. Inside, the first thing I noticed was the seamless design of the dashboard and center console that makes it look like one long and very beautiful piece of canvas. Mazda even went as far as hiding an A/C vent (yes, there are 4) and the hazard light button as to not disturb the motif.
The only things poking out of the dash are the 3.5-inch LCD screen entertainment unit and head up display (HUD) that will keep you entertained. But if you want the fancy 7-inch touch screen, which is the same one found in the '3' and '6', that piece of kit is only available in the top-of-the-line R sedan.
As for wiggle room, the '2' had generous leg and headroom, which allowed my 5' 9” frame to sit comfortably both in the front and back.
Behind the wheel, the all-new Mazda 2 offers a great driving position with its contoured seats, well-positioned pedals, and meaty yet compact steering wheel. This was a big plus on the regular road sections, but it really came to life as we descended from Liliw, Laguna and worked our way through its famed twisty section aptly nicknamed 'Bitukang Manok.
With the SKYACTIV-Drive 6-speed automatic transmission switched to Sport Mode, the 1.5L 4-cylinder SKYACTIV-G engine was able sing to full revs, unleashing all of its 108 hp and 139 Nm of torque. Although these numbers may not sound like much, it really feels that you've got a lot more grunt under your right foot, urging you to floor the pedal even more.
The brakes were firm and confidence-inspiring, handling was accurate, and the steering wheel gave good feedback from the road. I believe that, driving through curvy mountain roads, was where the Mazda 2 really shined and allowed me to feel the 'Jinba Ittai' (or horse and rider as one in English) experience Mazda was talking about
With the sun setting in the distance, we hurriedly made our way to our destination in Batangas where we stayed for the night. Surprisingly, despite spending 10 hours on the road, I could honestly say that it was a relaxing drive and my body didn't feel tired at all.
Looking back, the 'S' variant of the all-new Mazda 2 we drove was the cheapest of the lot at P795,000. Yet, we never felt that it lacked anything. Adding to that, this subcompact also wears the same KODO design language, same Jinba Ittai driving experience, and same high-tech features as the rest of Mazda's line-up.
So, does the all-new Mazda 2 drive like a small '3' and '6'? Yes it does.