Daytime running lights:
Powered boot / tailgate:
Daytime running lights:
Powered boot / tailgate:
DISTILLING THE ESSENCE OF ZOOM-ZOOM
words by KON
The Mazda2 in its current iteration was launched in 2015 and has, to date, been offered exclusively as a high-spec model competing only against range-topping variants of the City, Jazz, Vios, and the like.
With a price tag touching RM90k, the Mazda2 has established itself as something of a premium offering within its segment, though as the likes of the Vios J and City S will testify, there is a lot of money to be made capturing young well-heeled buyers eager to move on from their national cars.
Recognizing the eagerness of many Malaysians to quickly upgrade themselves into a non-national car, Mazda now offers a more affordable variant of the Mazda2 dubbed the Mazda2 Core Spec, priced just under RM75k, a significant reduction from the existing variant’s RM93k asking price.
Mazda2 Core Spec
Mechanical elements are identical to the high spec variant, meaning Grade A stuff such as the SkyActiv-G direct injection engine, 6-speed auto gearbox, and even rear disc brakes are present in this base model as well.
Still, RM18k of savings have to come from somewhere, and it starts with the omission of keyless entry, though the more obvious absentees are the MZD touchscreen infotainment and LED headlamps, replaced by a basic audio head unit and halogen reflector headlamps respectively.
Also, if you’ve grown accustomed to the guidance of reverse sensors when parking, its time to sharpen your senses again. A surprising omission this day and age, though one that can be easily amended at an accessory shop.
SPECS & FEATURES
We’ve grown accustomed to the appearance of the Mazda2 in its top spec guise, so this Core Spec model is bound to look underwhelming at first glance. Losing the LED headlamps for halogen reflector units is the biggest differentiation, but it isn’t that bad, given that these are the same headlights that were launched with the car in our market in 2015.
The downsized rims is another marker that you’re driving a ‘UNICEF-spec’ car, but unlike, say the Mazda3 or Mazda6, where rim sizes go up in 2-inch increment, the 1-inch reduction from 16 inches of the high spec model to 15 inches here is not a dealbreaking downgrade.
Inside, losing the MZD touchscreen is the cabin’s biggest ‘cost-down’ marker, but look more closely and you’ll see the choice of materials, whilst still generally very good in quality, seemed to also lose a degree of plushness. The high-spec model’s leather-wrapped steering gives way to a full polyurethane unit that, shall we say, feels no where near as nice to touch.
There’s hardly much we can criticize about the driving experience of Mazda cars these days, and our usual complaint of high noise levels don’t seem entirely reasonable for a car this price range.
We are familiar enough with the Mazda2 to know that it scores highly on driving dynamics and that admirable quality does not appear diminished with the base car’s reduction in price. If anything, the Core Spec model drives better than the high-spec car, presumably thanks to the more pliant ride offered by the downsized rim and tyre combo.
The 1.5-litre petrol engine is identical to what’s offered in the high-spec model and is the most technologically advanced in the segment, boasting direct injection technology, and is a pleasure to operate. Outputs of 114hp and 148Nm are modest on paper, but the engine revs energetically and with no small degree of relish.
Handling too is delightful; even if there seemed to be a lack of overall sophistication, there also seemed to be an unmistakable sense of well-oiled slickness to the chassis. A close comparison would be the Suzuki Swift and that’s a high compliment. We are talking about cars that operate delightfully simple hardware yet seems tuned with the mastery and finesse of a craftsperson.
At first glance, the Mazda2 Core Spec is decidedly unappealing in appearance, especially not after you’ve set eyes on the high-spec model. Problem here is that because Mazda had launched the 2 in high-spec configuration first, the Core Spec’s defining questions always becomes – what does it miss out from the high-spec model?
For most buyers, the high spec model remains the more advisable choice for additional levels of creature comforts for a premium that becomes negligible if you stretch your loan tenure long enough.
That being said, if you have a preference for back-to-basics no-frills motoring, the Mazda2 Core Spec appeals as a delightfully uncomplicated vehicle that also offers no small degree of driving fun. It may lose out on a fair bit of features, but you still get the full dose of SkyActiv hardware and its associated beneifts.
Suitable for Grabcar?
Qualify for EvoEnduro?
REAL WORLD USAGE
Petrol direct injection
114hp @ 6,000rpm
148Nm @ 4,500rpm
6-speed AT, FWD
Vent Disc / Solid Disc
MacPherson Strut / Torsion Beam
Funky and cheerful styling contrasts the Mazda’s sophistication. Just as desirable for the price, but reliability track record isn’t as strong.
The only car in segment that can truly claim to be superior to drive than the Mazda2, but let down by age and poor cabin.
1.6-litre MPI mill lacks the SkyActiv-G engine’s sophistication, but is a torquey and hardy. Lacks ESC though.