Last Friday, we were handed the keys to a Mazda 2 Speed hatchback, one of the hottest subcompacts currently available in the market. Seeing the car pull up in front of us was the perfect way to kick off the weekend. Needless to say, we were excited to hop in and get a feel for the vehicle.
And get a feel for it we did. Granted, we weren't able to take the hatchback out on the open road, but tight streets and crowded city highways weren't going to stop us from taking our sweet time with the Mazda 2. And it was indeed sweet. Here are our thoughts after having the car for the weekend.
* This car is incredibly fun to drive. It's quick, agile and very nimble. What's not to love? The 1.5-liter engine and all its 106 horses made reaching speed limits a piece of cake. Combine this with the vehicle's alert steering, and you've got the makings of a dynamic driving experience. Unfortunately, we weren't able to make full use of the Sport mode, being in the city and all. That trick will have to wait for another time.
* The entertainment system is an absolute joy. Connecting to the Mazda 2 Speed's entertainment system via Bluetooth is totally seamless--from the moment it first detects your device to when it reconnects automatically as you re-enter your ride. The six-speaker sound system is crystal clear, too (with the exception of some extremely bass-heavy tracks).
* Could a hatchback be any better-looking? Let's just lay it out there already: The 2 is probably the best-looking model in its segment. We love every inch of its exterior. From its angry sweeping headlights equipped with LED daytime running lights, to its curvy rear end. And the Speed variant in Soul Red? Drop-dead gorgeous. Mazda's Kodo design really shines here.
* Maneuvering through tight spaces is a cinch. Thanks to its small size and incredibly cooperative steering, the 2 proved to be an ideal companion in the claustrophobic parking spaces of Ortigas. Sightlines were a little lacking for my preference, but considering how handy the vehicle was in cramped areas, the observation is pretty much just nitpicking.
* The interior is lovely. Two words: leather everywhere. Two-tone (black-and-white) leather perfectly complements the cabin's minimalist vibe. Infotainment and aircon controls have been limited to a few neat dials with chrome accents, while the instrument panel and the HUD speedometer add a touch of sportiness. Drivers suffering from OCD will just love the way everything is in its proper place.
* Cargo and rear-passenger space is a bit cramped. The headroom toward the rear of the vehicle can be a little too close for comfort, depending on the height of the occupant. But for the most part, average-size Filipinos should have no trouble fitting inside. The lack of cargo space is the one gripe I have with the Mazda 2. Two medium-size duffel bags will eat up almost all of the room back there.
* It's incredibly tempting to own one. Not the Mazda 2 Speed per se, but even any of the subcompact's other variants. Consider this: You get the same engine, the same power and the same handling in any of the lower variants. Granted, you won't get the leather-wrapped interior as well as a handful of other awesome bits. But even without the two-tone leather and the seven-inch touchscreen, it's still one very good ride. The base model comes with a P748,000 price tag, while the Speed in Soul Red can be had for P975,000. Take your pick.
Photos by Drei Laurel