By Monch "The Monchster" Henares
At First Glance
There she is.... the Mazda 2 V+. It's that new vivacious smile that caught my attention. Gone are the days of the Joker-like grin grills. Sleek, flowing lines enhanced by sporty front and side body skirts, and a rear spoiler complete the Mazda 2's aerodynamic nimbleness. Kudos to the KODO Soul of Motion design philosophy.
The Key-Less Entry coupled with an Alarm System and Push-Button Engine Start/Stop, which are only found in premium models, is standard on the Mazda 2 V+. All I needed was my trusty E.T. like finger to unlock, lock, and start the engine. The key fob stayed protected inside my pant pocket the whole time. The 10 kph Auto Door Lock also engages as I start on a trip. That's very convenient and safe I should say.
One would think that a sub-compact car would be cramped and claustrophobic, but not the Mazda 2 V+. There is ample leg room at the rear with seats that are sporty and stylish. The cool-to-the-touch fabric material and ergonomic seat design with height adjust of the driver's seat did not make me feel tired driving at all. And what makes this model really versatile are its Rear Folding Seats that had two 3-Point Seatbelts and Adjustable Headrests for each passenger. Having an expandable trunk space, which most car buyers look for, is so convenient when loading long cargo and luggage.
The designer-type steering wheel is equipped with buttons for Audio, Bluetooth Connectivity, Info Controls and even Voice Command. These easy-to-reach controls are located at the front left side, while the Manual Override Paddle Shifters were located behind the steering wheel. It was like I was behind the wheel of a Formula1.
The instrumentation is easy to read and well-placed, but an analog tachometer would have completed the look and function. The 7-inch Infotainment Screen which sits on the center of the dash is one to behold. It's a display for Audio, Entertainment, Bluetooth Connectivity, NAV, Trip Computer, and a Rear View Parking Monitor. I never figured out if I could play movies on it.
Below the screen is a beautifully laid out array of vents, outlined with a red stripe, and bordered with a handsome Carbon Fiber Panel . The shocking red striping did not tickle my fancy, though. A less flashy shade of red would have been more soothing to the eyes. Maybe I am just an old bull who does not like shocking red. TORO!
At the center console, one would find a row of three sleek aircraft style knobs to control the Auto Climate System. These keep the cabin at a pre-selected comfortable temperature. Its got heat too! Below it is a CD Slot with 2-power/USB ports, an AUX port, a 12 V power outlet, and an SD Card Slot for NAV data. That's all I needed to connect my gadgets stuffed with music
On the center floor console sits the ergonomic Skyactiv Transmission Selector Stick and south of it, all by its lonesome, is the Sports Mode switch. I would have preferred if the designers placed it at a more visible area, like on the dash or steering wheel. It was hard to switch on when I really needed it...no, no, no, I wasn't drag racing.
Lastly, I just love the sophisticated looking Commander Control for the OM2D (Connect Smart Connectivity & Entertainment Audio System) which is just to the right of the emergency brake lever. Trailing behind it are two out-of-place cup holders. Why it's all the way back there, i don't know. It was an arm twisting task just to get my drink.
Our journey takes us north starting from Chaotic Manila to the Law-Abiding streets of the Subic Freeport Zone in Zambales. 150 kilometers of smooth high-speed driving through the NLEX and Scenic SCTEX , slowing down a bit on some portions due to the never ending road repairs. The Mazda 2 V+ run like an Olympic track star. It responded with demanding quick starts, high speed acceleration, maneuverability, handling, and braking which I had full access to, thanks to the powerful 4cyl 1.5L Skyactiv 108HP Engine in sync with the 6 speed Skyactiv Transmission. I tell you this car can deliver. Completing the star team are features like 4 Wheel Disc Brakes, Dynamic Stability Control, Traction Control, Sports Mode, and Hill Launch Assist.
I am guilty of always leaving the turn signals engaged after changing lanes or overtaking, that bad habit was instantly cured when I found this car had Turn Lane Change Signals, which are 3 signal flashes at a tap of the turn signal lever, enough for you to complete the lane change. Neat trick! I felt very safe driving through tunnels and long 2-lane stretches late in the day, Daytime Running Lights make the car more visible to oncoming traffic especially when the piercing afternoon sun was at our back.
I'm a stickler for interior bliss and to my surprise, the Mazda 2 V+ had a very quiet ride. No annoying hisses, clicks, clacks, thuds, and rattles. I was also shielded from the outside traffic and road noise. What let me down was the darn horn. It sounded like a dying cow. Mooohoohoo! The ride through uneven and rough road was a bit stiff, but what can one expect from a sub-compact. It still was a pleasure to drive.
It's nimble and quick and I even named it Jack. Priced a little bit under a million pesos, this model has almost every feature a premium model would have. It's size, roomy interior, configurable rear seat and trunk area, convenience and safety features, and awesome fuel economy make it a great daily driver.
I averaged 20 km/l on this trip alone and that's with a heavy foot. Not bad at all. It's small, but terrible in a good way.
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Monch "Monchster" Henares is an award-winning automotive journalist and feature writer for the Philippine Daily Inquirer's Road Talk, a media blogger @MonchsterChronicles.com, and a co-anchor in the program Kaya Mo Yan on DZRH News Television. He is also a tech and motoring specialist, inventor, and automotive engineer.
He managed the motorpool for a limousine company in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. He is now based in Manila, Philippines, and is the President of BuildMeUp Corp.
You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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