Mazda2 Java: The luxurious subcompact
Angel Rivero ( - December 3, 2018 - 12:15pm

MANILA, Philippines — Just when you thought that you'd never find the words luxurious and subcompact in one sentence, Mazda engineers took it upon themselves to design just that—and it's called the Mazda2 Premium Series.

The Mazda2 Premium Series shatters the common notion that subcompacts can only be tight and functional; that they only serve a need to move, without really investing much into aspects such as riding pleasure and personal driving excitement. After all, luxury (at non-luxury price points) is often reserved for the bigger cars. But not with the Mazda2 Premium Series models.

To my delight, I had the opportunity to test drive the Mazda2 Premium Series Java Edition. It is Mazda's top-spec variant in the line; and could be told apart via its new, special color "Titanium Flash"—a classy shade of gray that exudes more maturity and elegance.

The Mazda2 Java Edition comes packaged with lovely burgundy accents—the chin, roof and side mirror casings are bathed in this color, as are the side skirts, lower part of the rear bumper and little highlights on the magwheels. Faithful to Mazda's Kodo design language, the Mazda2 Java Edition, in its subcompact glory, exudes a powerful stance—with bodily curves that look like well-toned muscles.

Faithful to Mazda's Kodo design language, the Mazda2 Java Edition, in its subcompact glory, exudes a powerful stance—with bodily curves that look like well-toned muscles. Cagadas

But perhaps the real interface with luxury comes when you sit inside the cabin. The Mazda2 Java Edition's quality textures and rich, surface contours do not fail to impress; and the contrast stitching and highlights again become a favorite design theme. While most subcompacts are stereotyped with lesser perceived value, it is the complete opposite with this vehicle.

The clever subcompact is a work of art that is realized through the special skills of craftsmen who push the boundaries of metal fabrication. There is high attention to detail, and flawless fit and finish. All while the car retains its iconic, sporty interior typical of Mazda's signature design. To better describe it, it carries the ambience of a small car from a class above.

Adhering to the brand's proprietary Jinba Ittai (horse and rider as one) design philosophy, the foot pedals are shaped and positioned in such a way that the driver reaches the pedals comfortably and naturally, despite the car's compact size. The steering wheel also offers telescopic adjustment for more fine-tuning flexibility to achieve the ideal driving position

Like every Mazda, the cockpit design is based on its Heads-up Cockpit concept, which effectively provides the driver with the driving information he needs, while keeping his eyes mostly on the road and helping him maintain the correct driving position the entire time.

Because this type of driving architecture minimizes eye movement from the driver, it significantly reduces the burden of the operator to constantly adjust his focus. And a less tired driver is always a safer driver.

I am not a tall person but I get a good field of vision once I'm properly seated. It also makes things a lot more convenient when I can control a number of functions hands-free—that is, by simply speaking into the car's microphone. Tasks such as menu switching, playing music, selecting radio stations and zooming in and out of maps can be fulfilled in this manner.

And while it is often one of the biggest challenges to fit bulky luggage into subcompact cars, the Mazda2 Java Edition does very well in accommodating a large suitcase in the trunk. An average-sized baby stroller can also be fit into the compartment, and one rear seat could be folded to accommodate carrying one golf bag. The lift gate opening of this vehicle is specially wide, for ease of loading and unloading.

Meanwhile, a combination of the SKYACTIV chassis and strategically-placed sound-insulating materials impressively reduce road noise heard from within the car. Not bad, for a subcompact car, which typically gives itself away with harsher levels of NVH.

Its aerodynamic exterior design also helps in reducing wind noise. The car is architectured in such a way that it streamlines the flow of wind to enhance aerodynamics and improve fuel economy.

Meanwhile, the Mazda2's SKYACTIV body introduces innovations in construction methods and car materials that promote a combination of collision safety, vehicle rigidity and to our delight—even lighter body weight. This helps bestow every Mazda2 with its trademark, responsive driving that makes it an excellent vessel to zip around stop-and-go traffic.

That, and the car also celebrates a turning radius of less than 5m—which is perfect for our tight city streets—even with the larger tire sizes.

As expected with all Mazda vehicles, the steering responds faithfully and the car basically does what you want it to.

For extra driving pleasure, the Mazda2 Java Edition even offers a toggle to choose Sport Mode—wherein the transmission is automatically set to start out in a low gear, and hold that gear for longer.

Driving in this mode also increases the amount of the car's torque output once you start stepping on the accelerator more aggressively—delivering a delightful experience of powerful acceleration that is especially useful when overtaking other cars. There is no lack of confidence that might make you hesitate.

The car's transmission itself weighs less and has less mechanical resistance, thanks to a reduction in the number of parts used within it. Mazda engineers have chosen to optimize the shapes of the remaining parts—to deliver the same performance but with lighter components.

Like all other Mazda models (with the exception of the MX-5), the current Mazda2 line is equipped with GVC (G-Vectoring control)—a part of the SKYACTIV technology suite that controls the synergy between the car's engine, body and chassis, to optimize the vertical load on each wheel, for efficient vehicle motion and less driver steering corrections.

The result is a driving and riding experience that is subtly smoother, and therefore less exhausting.

Finally, one does not need to fret when it comes to safety, even with this small wonder. The Mazda2 carefully adopts materials and structures that make the modest cabin stronger, and likewise compensate for its reduced crush space.

The steering shaft is specially engineered to soften the blow to the driver in the event of a frontal collision; and if the impact is severe, it tends to move forward and away from the driver to make room to accommodate the driver's inevitable forward motion.

The beauty in graceful engineering is that even the tiniest details are well-thought of. Say for example, with the pretensioners that tighten the seatbelts whenever there are signs of an impact—there also exist equivalent load limiters that subsequently loosen the belts in a controlled manner, to prevent the belts from applying too much pressure on a person's chest.

Now, if you're curious about the new Mazda2 Premium Series Katana Edition, it offers exactly the same delights as the Java Edition, except it comes in the coveted body color of Mazda's signature "Machine Gray" with silver and blue accents.

The new Mazda2 Premium Series Crimson Edition will come in Mazda's all-new signature color, "Soul Red Crystal." And to complete the premium line of Mazda2 variants, the Mazda2 Premium Series Kabuki and Midnight Editions are certainly still available—glorious in their colors of white and black, respectively.

There are a lot of things to love about the Mazda2, and it's no wonder that it was hailed Japan's Car of the Year in 2014-2015. It uses its small size to every advantage, and equips itself with technologies to counter any size-related disadvantages.

And to add some honey to the pancakes—Mazda Philippines also offers its Yojin3 service for new purchases of any Mazda2 unit.

Yojin3 is a three-year service and warranty  period, wherein new owners can bring in their cars for scheduled periodic maintenance checks, based on manufacturer recommendations (6-month intervals or every 10,000 kms, whichever comes first), at no extra cost. It also includes free roadside assistance. That's worry-free, standard maintenance and assistance for the next three years! — Video by Erwin Cagadas

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