Review: Mazda2 1.5L SkyActiv, the effervescent Japanese marvel [+Video]


Seven delicate years have passed since the third generation Mazda2 was first brought to our shores. Since then, the Malaysian B-segment playing field has seen a significant growth both in terms of competition and standards.

Compact cars of late have evolved from the safe idea of prioritising affordability, reliability and ease of maintenance to offering cars that look as good as it is purposeful, value for money and laden with various in and out of car technology.2015 Mazda2 1.5L Skyactiv-G (75)

QUICK FACTS

NameMazda2 1.5L Skyactiv-G Hatchback / Sedan
Segment
B-Segment
Engine1,496cc; inline-4 cyl SkyActiv-G, DOHC
Transmission6-speed SkyActiv-Drive automatic
Max Power114 hp @ 6,000 rpm
Max Torque148 Nm @ 4,000 rpm
Price (OTR with insurance)RM87,956.00

Carmakers who were once dominant have had their complacency challenged with such great intensity that they are forced to comply with the rising demands from their customers. Be that as it may, the competition turned out healthy and we, the people, get to reap the benefits. Despite the list of tech and toys we get with our cars, there’s just some things we find off putting, things that you could do without but just happen to want.2015 Mazda2 1.5L Skyactiv-G (80)

The Mazda2 was one promising car, the car many revered for its exceptional value for money, more so with the brand’s full suite of SkyActiv technology. We’ve sampled the car and made a video out of it to find out if it will live up to the average Malaysian’s expectations. So let’s get on with it, shall we?

EXTERIOR

Little can go wrong with the looks of this Mazda2. Being the fourth model to feature the brand’s KODO Soul of Motion design language, the 2 is a pretty handsome car that comes in two body types – hatchback and sedan. Our test unit was the former, but I personally gravitate towards the latter because of its similarity to the Mazda3. According to our friends at Mazda, the sedan is also the more popular variant, and the waiting list is weeks, if not a month longer than the hatch’s.2015 Mazda2 1.5L Skyactiv-G (77) (2)

The Mazda2 adorns subtle curves around the body, giving it a sleek appeal from just about any angles you can find. At the front, the 2 is instantly recognisable as a Mazda, and the same can be said when seen from the back. Many find the omission of the LED daytime running lights and projector headlights to be the deal breaker, but jumping the gun in that demeanor means losing out on what is essentially the best car money can buy.

During the launch, there were several Mazda2s dressed up in full bodykit with its rims, roof and side mirrors blackened. It also had a black rear spoiler, so if Mazda ever decides to introduce that as an option in the future, take it. We insist.

Mazda2 Hatchback (10)
The dressed up Mazda2 displayed during the launch

Offered as standard on the outside are keyless entry, rear view camera, electronically foldable side mirrors with integrated signal indicators as well as halogen daytime running lights. On the sedan you lose the single rear wiper found on the hatchback, but that’s just standard omission.

INTERIOR

I’ve said it once, but I’ll say it again. The interior of this car is simply a cut above the rest, because upon entry you will be greeted with an air of luxury so immersive, it’s impressive. The last time I was reminded of such exemplary cabin build quality (for the price) was of the Volkswagen Polo CKD’s, but even on that scale the Mazda2 deservingly holds the upper hand.2015 Mazda2 1.5L Skyactiv-G (47)

The textured plastics used here are hard to the touch, but knock it a few times and you’ll find that they are made of good quality composites. One thing that needs pointing out is the unusually large diameter of the steering wheel. It even comes with fake carbon fibre printing and the multi-function switches are positioned a tad too far for convenient thumb operation.

Dashboard layout is clean with lines that blend well into the doors, while the 7-inch LCD head unit, Active Driving Display (Head-Up Display, HUD) and tweeters are neatly positioned atop the dashboard. The instrument meters are pretty fancy too, but the Honda City’s meter cluster takes the cake in terms of design.2015 Mazda2 1.5L Skyactiv-G (49)

Down the centre you’ll find Mazda’s rotary knob, which helps you navigate the standard MZD Connect system. The LCD screen is touch sensitive, but is disabled when the car isn’t stationary. GPS navigation system is an additional RM1,200 and it comes preloaded in the form of an SD card. Getting that would give you navigational arrows shot onto the HUD, but our test unit did not come with that option. We’ll stick to Waze for the time being.2015 Mazda2 1.5L Skyactiv-G (40)

The feel good factor doesn’t just cater to what you see and touch in the Mazda2. This extends to the seats which are wrapped in a mixture of leather and fabric, and you also get red stitching complemented by a singular red strip running across the middle. The front seats are comfortable by any standards and provide adequate lumbar support for all your long distance driving needs. At the back however, I found the seats a touch too upright, so it may not be the ideal place to be in for long.

Rear legroom space doesn’t score high here, not least when you compare it to the Almera, City/Jazz and Vios. The same can be said for the sedan variant because their measurements are exactly the same, although it does fare better than our dethroned segment leader Ford Fiesta. Yes, dethroned, because the Mazda2 is our new favourite by far and large.2015 Mazda2 1.5L Skyactiv-G (33)

That said, the rear seats will still accommodate three average sized adults, but like what Jenn has said in the video, you may feel crammed, but the roomy head and shoulder space make up for what it lacks. It’s a B-segment daily driver after all, and in that respect it ticks every box of what is expected from a car its class.

If boot space is something your nitpicking self will have issues dealing with, then I’ll have you know that the hatchback’s measure at 220 litres, the smallest in its class. The more sensible buy of the lot would be the sedan variant with 410 litres of boot space, with that you also get the added bonus of it looking like a shrunken Mazda3.

PERFORMANCE

Okay, let’s get straight to the point here. The petrol engine nestling under this bonnet is the starlet of the show, one that performs beyond any initial expectations the crew at Autobuzz.my had. This SkyActiv-G (G for gasoline) four cylinder direct injected engine displaces 1,496cc and makes a rather conservative 114 hp at 6,000 rpm and 148 Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm.2015 Mazda2 1.5L Skyactiv-G (23)

What makes the powertrain all the more remarkable is the drivetrain – Mazda’s SkyActiv-Drive, six-speed automatic transmission. There’s just something about in-house developed engines and transmissions. They complement each other so well, much like your proverbial case of match made in heaven.

Trust us, because we remember driving the Polo CKD, one that had a bigger 1.6-litre multi-port injected engine also paired to a six-speeder ‘box, a combo that led to Volkswagen’s claim of “best in class torque delivery”. They were right, for a good while, then came the Mazda2 SkyActiv. Enough said.

THE DRIVE

Mazda built the 2 with the objective of shattering all conventional notions of a small, city car. That goal drove them to produce what’s evidently a fun to drive daily runabout vehicle, and it’s not just another run off the mill, point A to B purpose driven car.2015 Mazda2 1.5L Skyactiv-G (20)

The perfect couple that is the engine and the transmission delivers ample low end torque, and provides sufficient pull even while ascending steep slopes. Getting the car up to highway cruising speeds proves to be an effortless task, and a fun one at that too. There’s one drawback though, the SkyActiv engine tends to be coarse and noisy upon ignition, and this noise can also be heard when the tacho needle climbs upwards of 4,500 revolutions.

The i-Stop function does kick in when extra brake force is applied at idle or when shifted into neutral, but it could use some refining to make the re-ignition more seamless. But as far as its technology is concerned, it does help conserve a bit more fuel when your happy foot isn’t so busy chasing the 10-second 0 to 100 km/h sprint. Just as a quick comparo, the Polo 1.6 sprints to 100 km/h in 11.1 seconds.2015 Mazda2 1.5L Skyactiv-G (16) (2)

Handling wise, as we’ve enjoyed in our brief stint with the Mazda3 SkyActiv-G sedan, is unsurprisingly agile and the wheels quickly respond to your steering input. Its SkyActiv chassis and suspension excel at resisting body rolls, making high speed turns and quick cornering a safe undertaking. When you have a car this fun, try flicking the Sport Mode switch. It’s built into the shifter gate, and upon activation will automatically alter transmission behaviour, giving you the freedom that comes with the paddle shifters.

Where the Mazda2 lacks in the driving department is its poor road insulation, a shortcoming shared between many of their models for the past few years. Despite sitting on 16-inch wheels shod with 185/60 series high profile tyres, road noise seeps into the cabin at 80 km/h and becomes increasingly unpleasant as you cruise over the three-figure mark. This could be the Dunlop Enasave EC300 tyres at play, though it wouldn’t surprise us if the wheel wells aren’t given enough insulation to negate Malaysian roads.2015 Mazda2 1.5L Skyactiv-G (78)

Another positive upshot of the 2’s SkyActiv chassis is how spongy it becomes when driving over poorly maintained roads. This writer was thoroughly impressed with the car’s confidence in soaking up road undulations, effectively subduing the nightmarish reality of driving in and around Port Klang, a place I very closely associate myself to being at home. What better way to put the SkyActiv’s claim to the test, right?

IS THIS CAR FOR YOU?

There’s plenty of reasons for us to convince you that this is the B-segment car you’ve been waiting for, but it’s easier said than done because there’s just so many cars out there to choose from. But if we boil things down to just the popular few, you would be looking at the City, Jazz, Polo CKD, Fiesta EcoBoost, Vios and the ageing Peugeot 208 VTi. Then there’s of course the handsome Kia Rio, Nissan Almera facelift, Suzuki Swift, Mitsubishi Attrage; you get the head scratching point. There’s no few when it’s this competitive.2015 Mazda2 1.5L Skyactiv-G (72)

It’s undoubtedly a heavily competed segment, and the Mazda2 is edged by the segment leading City and Jazz in terms of its warranty programmes by a good two years. Having said that, the Mazda2 is a package many will find irresistible, and this is greatly attributed to the outstanding build quality inside and out.

For just a tinge below RM88,000 with insurance, you’re looking at an absolute bargain for all that it’s worth. If the hatchback is too impractical for your wandering needs, the sedan can be yours for exactly the same price, right down to the cent. Like I said earlier, Mazda has gotten many things right with the car, and its attractive price tag just does it for me.

COMPARISONS

At this level of ballgame, we put the Mazda2 head to head against some of the crowd favourite.

Mazda2 1.5L SkyActivHonda Jazz 1.5L Grade VVolkswagen Polo 1.6L MPIFord Fiesta 1.0L EcoBoost
ENGINE
Type4-cylinder petrol4-cylinder petrol4-cylinder petrol3-cylinder petrol turbo
Displacementcc1,496cc1,497cc1,598cc998cc
Max Powerhp/rpm114/6,000118/6,600103/5,250123/6,000
Max TorqueNm/rpm148/4,000145/4,600153/3,800170/1,400
STEERING
TypeElectric power-assistedElectric power-assistedElectric power-assistedHydraulic power-assisted
DRIVETRAIN
Transmission6-speed automaticCVT automatic6-speed automatic6-speed dual clutch
SUSPENSION
TypeMacPherson strut / Torsion beamMacPherson strut / Torsion beamMacPherson strut / Torsion beamMacPherson strut / Torsion beam
FrontVentilated discVentilated discVentilated discVentilated disc
RearSolid discDrumDrumDrum
TYRE & WHEELS
Tyres185/60 R16185/55/ R16185/60 R15195/50 R16
WheelsAlloyAlloyAlloyAlloy
DIMENSIONS & WEIGHTS
Overall Lengthmm4,0603,9553,9703,982
Overall Widthmm1,6951,6941,6821,722
Overall Heightmm1,470 1,5241,4531,489
Wheelbasemm2,570 2,5302,4702,489
Max Kerb weightkg1,056 1,0811,020N/A
Luggage Capacity (VDA)L220363280276
FUEL
Tank Capacity44 litres40 litres45 litres43 litres
Consumption5.1 l/100 km5.6 l/100 km6.3 l/100 km5.3 l/ 100km
PERFORMANCE
Max Speedkm/h184N/A184N/A
0 – 100km/hsec10 secondsN/A11.1 secondsN/A
PRICE (with insurance)RM87,956.0087,800.0089,888.00 96,551.65

Mazda2 Diesel

WILL I BUY IT?

A resounding yes, but not in a heartbeat. Why, you ask? Many factors come into play when choosing the right car for yourself, and the Mazda2 SkyActiv-G pulls my heartstrings in all the right direction. The pros far outweigh the cons even after having the car for a week, but the only factor worthy of my reconsideration is the turbodiesel 2, which we were told would make its way here sometime between Q2 and Q3 this year.

It’s also a 1.5-litre SkyActiv four pot, but makes 103 hp at 4,000 rpm and a whopping 250 Nm of torque from 1,500 to 2,500 rpm. Now, combine that and its naturally frugal nature, if you ask me, that’s a surefire way to be the cream of all crops.


IMAGE GALLERY


Matthew H. Tong

Matthew H. Tong

A straightforward, fun-loving guy who appreciates the superficiality of a car's appeal, but his admiration for anything on four wheels gives him no reason to neglect the makings of a car. He still believes that fun comes with three pedals and a stick.
  • tokmoh

    That’s another nice video review, well done guys!

    Though if I may offer my 2 sen, try to reduce just reading out fact sheets/numbers in videos. The thing is, those more detailed info eg when talking about list of awards is easier to be read.

    Watching video review is about offering visual experience of the car, so if I wanna know exactly how much hp/nm/awards/etc info like that, I can just read it, maybe just put those info by the side as the host is walking through the car. Viewers can read it while watching how those info relate to the car, eg when talking boot space, put hovering info of capacity in liters, maybe even its rivals’ as comparison, or amount of cupholders when making note how lacking it is in that regard.

    So use every second of video review what can only be done in a video, to describe the experience with the car. Try to find as much detail as possible, examining every feature what a user/owner would find handy.

    Eg I recently discovered City S, S+, Vios J and Almera (not sure if all specs) cannot fold down the rear seats. I was shocked and dismayed such a handy feature is omitted, and I only got to know when I thoroughly read through spec list. It’s such a turn off, I simply couldn’t recommend anyone.

    Now, since this is Mazda 2’s page, I must say I’m starting to spot this car on the road, and they look HUGE. I keep mistaking it as Mazda 3 cuz it looks like a car of that segment. What is certain is it really has a presence, like an aura that I must say, is rather attractive.

    I just wish Bermaz could bring in the manual. It’s a damn shame, because no matter how good and efficient auto is, a manual is always the way to go for a pure driving experience. The feeling of having absolute control is so rewarding, especially so in a small hatch form. Simplicity and purity, I wouldn’t compromise to get that.

  • Chris Ong

    How are the paddle shifters on this car? Do they lag for a split second after pulling on the shifters then changes gear or are the gear changes instant?

  • Jaslehaidy Rahman

    Please update the price after GST. As I know the car price has drop RM3.70….hahahaha…but the insurance premium has increase about RM2++…new price will be RM88,115.20

share on: