2016 Mazda2 Midnight Edition

Without a shred of doubt, the Mazda2 is one of my personal favorites in the class of fun and functional hatchbacks. The combination of the design, the quality, and driving enjoyment have propelled the Mazda2 to the top of our picks from the growing group of subcompact hatches.

Earlier this year, Mazda announced three new versions of their B-segment contender, calling them the premium series. This is one of them: the Mazda2 Midnight Edition.

The Mazda2 is a very stylish, small car whether you picked the four-door or the five-door hatchback version. Their distinct styling is inspired by the silhouette of a fast cat (i.e. cheetah) to evoke dynamic motion from any angle, hence the cat-like eyes, the profound shape of the fenders and the character lines. The styling of the hatchback-only Premium Series takes it even further by adding exterior enhancements with red accents such as the body kit: grille, spoiler, wraparound skirt and the front lip.

The cabin, as expected, has been simplified in the Mazda way, with a design aesthetic that seeks minimalism but loses none of the functionality. Essentially, the cabin is the same one found in the top-spec Mazda2, albeit with some other enhancements like the stitching on the leather. The Mazda’s interior is smaller compared to other B-cars like the Jazz, but that’s alright; it’s a subcompact after all.

The dash has been shaped and designed to be driver-centric, with a single tachometer flanked by two LCD screens and a digital display for the speed. There’s even a heads-up display (HUD) that rises when you fire up the car so the driver doesn’t have to take his eyes away from the road. But what I like most is how Mazda did away with much of the buttons by consolidating them to one control panel; this is something we’d expect from premium brands like BMW or Mercedes-Benz, but not from a mass-market B-car.

The key point about the Mazda2 is the phrase that I would call enjoyable and efficient performance. They call it SkyActiv; a full-spectrum approach to efficiency by making the car lighter through stiffer metals, coupled with smarter 6-speed automatic transmissions and naturally aspirated engines with direct injection. This Mazda2 gets the smallest engine of the SkyActiv line: a 1.5-liter twin cam four-banger that makes 107 bhp and 103 lb ft of torque.

The horsepower figure may be small, but don’t think this Mazda2 can’t move. It’s quick, without a doubt, especially when you consider that this light hatchback has a power-to-weight ratio of 104 bhp per tonne. There’s a sport mode switch on the shifter console, instantly transforming the Mazda2 from a sedate town tooler to a peppy little hatchback.  It’s fun to drive even in the city, making quick work of stoplight to stoplight sprints. Efficient too; 10.2 km/l in town (24 km/h average) and 14.9 km/l on the highway (83 km/h average).

But really, the Mazda delivers an enjoyable buffet of driving excitement when the road clears up. Find a mountain pass with no traffic and you’ll have a challenging time containing a smile of unfiltered driving pleasure with the Mazda2. The 2 possesses a lightness of being that a skilled or even a casual driver can enjoy. Being so light, braking is a cinch and the handling is superb, able to take on tricky corners one after the other, and easily accelerates out of each one.

Balance is what the Mazda2 is about, and their new Premium Series ups the game a bit when it comes to style. I do wish Mazda gave the Premium Series a power hike but truth be told the car doesn’t need it. In a group of its peers, the Mazda’s keys will be the one we’re reaching for the most.

ENGINE:        Inline-4, 1496cc, dohc, 16-valve, direct injection, 6-speed AT

POWER          107 bhp @ 6000 rpm

TORQUE:       103 lb ft @ 4000 rpm

0-100 km/h:     NICS
Top Speed:      NICS

Fuel Mileage:  14.9 km/l Highway

+:                     Overall balance, enhanced styling, enjoyable performance

-:                      Not much, navigation is a PhP 3,000 option

Rating:                        9.5/10

Executive Editor