Ramalkan Harga Kenderaan Anda

All-New 2015 Mazda 2 Quick Review In Japan: You'll Want To Wait For This

Live Life Drive

All-New 2015 Mazda 2 Quick Review In Japan: You'll Want To Wait For This

We’re reporting to you LIVE from Japan, at a very special test drive event with Mazda, to review the all-new and very exciting all-new 2015 Mazda 2, to give you a taste of things to come in Malaysia.

But before it reaches our shores, the all-new Mazda 2 will first be going on sale in Japan come September, with production only just beginning at Mazda’s Hofu plant in Yamaguchi, Japan. Overseas sales will begin in late 2014 while Malaysia is expected to launch the model in early 2015.

What Is It?

The Mazda 2 is a B-segment hatchback that sits in the same competitive set as the 2014 Honda Jazz, 2014 Ford Fiesta and 2014 Volkswagen Polo. As it will only be launched in early 2015, it is still too early to report on the model's local prices and specifications just yet.

PERFORMANCE: Globally, the Mazda 2 is available with either of Mazda's latest SkyActiv-G 1.5-litre petrol engine or the SkyActiv-D 1.5-litre diesel engine. In Japan, a smaller SkyActiv-G 1.3-litre petrol engine is also available. All engines are paired with either a SkyActiv-Drive six-speed automatic transmission or a six-speed manual transmission.

The diesel engine is ruled out for Malaysia, while the 1.3-litre petrol engine is considered too small to meet the expectations of Malaysian drivers so the forthcoming Malaysia market models will be powered exclusively by the SkyActiv-G 1.5-litre engine.

A six-speed automatic transmission is likely to be the sole transmission option but a six-speed manual transmission cannot be ruled out yet.    

PRODUCTION: Like the outgoing Mazda 2, this all-new model will be produced at the Ford-Mazda joint venture AutoAlliance Thailand (AAT) plant in Rayong. Although it will be produced at the same plant that makes the Ford Fiesta, the all-new Mazda 2 is developed independently by Mazda, using an all-new platform.

There will also be a sedan variant, but this should only be introduced much later.

2015 Mazda 2 Test Drive

What's New?

The previous Mazda 2 was quite a fun car to drive. Although it lacked power, it had a very competent chassis that responded very well to steering inputs. However, it looked rather uninspiring and its drab interior, coupled with its 'Mickey mouse ears' air-conditioning vents on the centre stack made it look like a toy car made from a Fisher Price grade of plastics.

This all-new model aims to not only build on that positive trait of responsive handling, but also to set a new benchmark in interior design. When Mazda was explaining to us about setting new benchmarks, they were dead serious.

Judging by the final product, we say that they have not only set a new benchmark for mainstream B-segment cars, but it is even better than some entry-level German luxury cars. More about that later.

As mentioned earlier, this an all-new model features an all-new platform, all-new engines and transmission. It is also the fourth model to adopt Mazda's latest Kodo design language, after the Mazda CX-5, Mazda 6, and Mazda 3.

The pictures don't do the car’s looks justice. It’s a lot better in sheet metal than any two-dimensional picture may suggest.

Driving a 2015 Mazda 2:

We were only given a two lap drive (including out lap and in lap) around the Tokachi International Speedway, and our session was also blighted by heavy rain, which created a lot of standing water around the circuit.

Still, some preliminary driving impressions can be formed.

Our test car right now is a SkyActiv-G 1.5-litre variant, paired to a six-speed automatic. Mazda did not provide any final specifications for the model yet, but maximum power output should be around 120 PS at 6,000 rpm while maximum torque is around 150 Nm at 3,500 rpm (based on Mazda 3 with SkyActiv-G 1.5-litre).

Like many recent Mazdas, the all-new Mazda 2 lacks the initial spurt of acceleration. Acceleration is good enough for its class, but compared to its peers, the Mazda's engine response may give the impression that it lacks grunt in standing starts.

Mazda's powertrain development engineer Koichi Shinbata explains that this is an intentional setup by Mazda to provide greater controllability of the throttle pedal.

In Mazda's opinion, an overly sensitive throttle (a common method used by other Japanese companies to give the illusion of a fast accelerating car) creates more strain on the driver's neck muscles, which needs to be stiffened to counter G-forces.

"The focus should not be on absolute power, but to create a more usable total performance package," he said, adding that a similar expectation was evident in Japanese drivers around twenty years ago, but this is no longer the case.

The chart below should explain this better. Notice the slower acceleration of the Mazda (red line) in the initial stages.

2015 Mazda 2 Test Drive

His colleague Kengo Fukushima, who in charge of vehicle dynamics explained further that Mazda's research show that human neck muscles naturally stiffen up within 0.3 seconds after a driver accelerates.

Mazda has intentionally focused on creating responsive performance from subtle operation of the throttle pedal, in Mazda's own words, to reduce 'head shaking' of passengers as the car accelerates. He explained that the linear throttle response also reduces fatigue in city driving as it is easier to adjust driving speed with finer adjustment of the throttle, which in turn reduces fuel consumption by reducing unnecessary pedal operations.

2015 Mazda 5 Test Drive

To further emphasize Mazda's focus on fine throttle control, the all-new Mazda 2 uses an organ pedal type throttle pedal, just like those used by high performance cars.

On the high speed sections of the circuit, the Mazda 2 felt spritely. Compared to the previous MZR series engines, this all-new SkyActiv engine doesn't sound coarse at all when revved hard, and it is eager to build up speed when hustled.

There's also a Sport mode, operated via a rocker switch behind the transmission shift lever. Activating it sharpens the throttle and quickens the transmission's shift mapping.

2015 Mazda 5 Test Drive

Ride And Handling

Even on a wet circuit, the little Mazda with 185/60 R16 Toyo Proxes tyres maintained very good traction and body control.

Hustling along a very wet circuit dodging standing water, the Mazda felt surprisingly confident for such a small car. Objectively, it isn't fast, but subjectively, despite the bad driving conditions the Mazda can somehow communicate to the driver that it will bring you through safely. That's a very major plus point for a small car.

If you overestimate and push it hard into a corner, the car understeers gently. Step on the brakes and it is easy to pirouette the rear of the car around to balance it as you attempt to clear a sharp corner.    

The steering is light but yet manages still inspire a good level of confidence. It's hard to describe this 'Jinba Ittai' oneness of rider and the horse philosophy that Mazda has managed to recreate in a car. You have to try it for yourself.

Most Japanese hatchbacks are suited only for city driving and are uncomfortable in long distance drives. The Mazda 2 however, has a surprisingly good level of insulation.

Even with large rain drops pounding the windscreen, and the speedometer hitting 160 km/h, the cabin remains very quiet, with minimal vibration felt through the seats and steering wheel. There is none of the 'sitting inside a drum' feeling that is common when driving a hatchback in the rain. 

There is also none of the boomy exhaust noise and tyre roar permeating from the boot floor, another common problem in hatchbacks. This Mazda 2 seems quite capable of doing long distance drives in comfort.

We manage to take the car out for a short drive across some of the access roads around the circuit, as these imperfect roads, with bumps and gaps are a better representation of the real world.

Driving over covered gutters, and gaps in the pavement, the Mazda 2's stiff suspension is apparent. Like its elder siblings the Mazda 3 and the Mazda 6, the little 2 can be quite jarring to drive over poorly surfaced roads.      

2015 Mazda 5 Test Drive


Open the doors and you'll be surprised by how well appointed the cabin is. The two-tone dashboard is lined in leather and although some parts are covered in hard plastics, they are surprisingly nice to touch and didn't felt cheap at all.

2015 Mazda 2 Test Drive

Clever design solutions include a thin air-conditioning vent at the centre that complements the circular vents at the sides. This reduces the height of the dashboard, something which many premium German car makers is unable to do in a small car. The lower dashboard allows the free standing infotainment display screen to be positioned optimally without impairing outward visibility.

Even the lower side of the centre stack, the part where your knee may rest against, is lined in leather.

The thick light and wiper stalks are nicely weighted, and felt like they came from a premium car, as are the trimmings on the door panels. The controls and switches all give a nice tactile feedback when used. The leather trimmed steering wheel is thick and is just the right size, almost as if it came from a BMW.

Nevermind about the Honda Jazz, Ford Fiesta or Volkswagen Polo, the controls and the trimmings in the cabin are so well made that you can easily pass this off as an Audi, let alone a BMW 1-series or a Mercedes-Benz A-Class. It is that good.    

Of course, we have to add that the test car is a higher range model and it is still unclear what trim options will be offered when the model does make its way into Malaysia.

2015 Mazda 2 Test Drive

Interior space has always been a weak point for Mazda vehicles. The Mazda 2 is no different. While it is still more spacious than a Ford Fiesta or a Volkswagen Polo, it is nowhere near as usable as a Honda Jazz, whose cabin space sits two segments higher, nevermind about it being just a B-segment car.

Although the Mazda is a front wheel drive, rear occupants will be inconvenienced with an unusually large transmission tunnel.

A full suite of i-ActiveSense active safety features, as well as i-Stop automatic engine idle-stop is also available but this is dependent on the variant selected by Bermaz, the distributor of Mazda vehicles in Malaysia.


The all-new Mazda 2 is a massive leap from its predecessor. It is a very engaging car to drive. Dynamically, the car manages to hit a sweet spot where it is easy enough to be handled by young, inexperienced drivers while still able to stir the emotions of a keen driver. Its superbly appointed interior is not only sets a new benchmark, but is good enough to rival entry-level German luxury models.

2015 Mazda 2 Test Drive

Should You Wait For It?

While the car certainly gets our thumbs up, potential buyers must be prepared to pay premium prices for the Mazda 2. As the saying goes, there are no free lunches here.

SkyActiv technologies cost a lot to develop, and much of the Mazda 2's excellent characteristics is only possible through generous use of lightweight yet strong high tensile strength steel. These don't come cheap. The same goes for the specially designed pistons, 4-2-1 exhaust extractors and multi-hole injectors to accommodate the high 14.0:1 compression ratio.

The interior felt very premium because it uses premium materials.

Prices have yet to be confirmed, but we expect the Mazda 2 to range around RM100,000 range. On the upside, there is no doubt that the money will be well spent. You just need to sit inside one of the Mazda 2's competitors to see where the money went. 

We also need to stress that the test car seen here is a Japan-made Singapore-market specifications model. Whether will our Malaysia-market Mazda 2 be as well appointed as this test car is yet to be seen. Part of us suspect this interior is not likely to make it here for cost reasons.

The all-new 2015 Mazda 2 is easily six months away but if you are one who place high priority on good design, comfortable long distance driving and appreciates a good handling car, then the answer is a resounding yes. Space and pillow soft ride is not its forte though.  

Related Link

All-New 2015 Mazda 2 Officially Unveiled As Production Begins In Japan

Berita Berkaitan


Lihat Kereta Idaman anda dalam App
Muat turun App Sekarang