Our favourite little subcompact gets a new groove |
Mazda has successfully adopted the KODO design language in every one of its product offerings.
Montreal, Québec – Mazda was gracious enough to invite me out to Montreal, Quebec for the official Canadian unveil of the second generation Mazda2. Fans will note that save for some cloth seating options, the car remains mostly unchanged from its European variant. We’ve been huge fans of the outgoing Mazda2, a subcompact that incorporates everything we value in a small car for the urban environment that is Toronto. This first glimpse is a little taste of what we can expect from the upcoming model.
With the update of the Mazda2, Mazda has successfully adopted the KODO design language in every one of its product offerings. This officially makes the company one of the most cohesive and recognizable brands in the industry. The “Soul of Motion” is clearly evident in the Mazda2 as the car features the same near iconic grill as the rest of the product line. Despite being taller (by 25 mm), the car looks a lot shorter and slightly less cartoony than the outgoing model. If anything, this should open up the 2 as a possibility for those that previously dismissed it based on its friendly and playful looks.
The new KODO design language allowed Mazda’s engineers to move the tires as close as possible to the four corners creating a low overhang on the front end. The car’s length has been stretched ever so slightly (110 mm) and the A-pillar has been shifted back 80 mm, moving the cabin back as well. The result? A much sportier-looking car despite its diminutive size. New buyers will also note that the wheels have been upped to 16 inches compared to last years 15” units.
Mazda has reworked the cabin as well with far more premium materials than the old 2. The cabin is similar to the recently announced Mazda MX-5. Newcomers will note the company’s attention to detail as well with air-conditioning louvers that resemble jet engines, and carbon fibre-like inserts in the headlights. The HMI interface found on the Mazda3 makes an appearance as well as the heads-up display, welcome touches of luxury for a subcompact car sold in Canada.
Mazda says the new 2016 Mazda2 will feature the company’s SKYACTIV 6-speed automatic (No CVT’s for us they say, thankfully!) and a choice of 6-speed manual is also offered. The two transmissions will be mated to a 1.5L SKYACTIV 4 cylinder. Mazda has been good about offering manual transmissions across the lineup, including the family-oriented CX-5! No power figures have been provided yet, but we speculate the numbers won’t be too far off from the 113 horsepower seen in the 1.5L petrol engine offered in Europe.
Weaknesses the old Mazda2 suffered from was a rather cheap-feeling interior, a dated powerplant, and far too much simplicity for its price point. It was a very good value, and was still considered an exceptionally good subcompact, but it was in need of an update. I’ll go as far as to say that despite its these flaws, even at the very end of its life cycle, the 2014 Mazda2 was still a darn good vehicle worthy of its title as our favourite subcompact.
If anything, the best part of the new Mazda2 is that it incorporates styling, interior updates, and overall technology that was previewed in the redesigned 2014 Mazda3. Despite being a volume seller, Mazda took huge risks and transformed the 3 to be leaps and bounds better than its predecessor. Interior appointments on the new Mazda2 are very similar to the 3; the infotainment system contains the same fixed screen with excellent resolution, controls are easily accessible, and the overall aura inside the car is no longer that of a cheap subcompact.
I have no doubts that our friends over at Mazda will hand us a new 2 to play with weeks after it officially lands on our shores. It’ll be then that we’ll be able to gauge just how good it is. Where the Mazda2’s predecessor lacked in its interior appointments, it made up for in its ride quality and overall driving experience. The car had a near-perfect clutch/shifter relationship, and it was a pleasure to toss around. It didn’t feel like it was gasping for more power even with just 100 horsepower on board, and the car was just so livable. To quote Louis, our junior editor, “This is how all small cars should feel.”
Overall, I was able to gather a few thoughts and impressions over my few days in Montréal after some in-depth discussions with our friendly Mazda PR team. The new 2016 Mazda2 will be just as much of a defining moment to the subcompact class as the current Mazda3 was to the slightly larger compact segment. As a single guy in my mid-twenties with an urban lifestyle, the subcompact class is one that is directed almost directly at me, and it hasn’t exactly thrilled me so far. This could be the game changer that sways me, and I can’t wait to drive it.
First Look: 2016 Mazda2 Gallery
*Some photos courtesy of Mazda Canada handout*