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September 5, 2017

Review: 2018 Honda City 1.5 E vs 2017 Mazda2 V+

The sub-compact car has become the new default family ride. Those who have a million and a half to spare can still go for mid-sized 7-seater SUVs, but the reality is, upwardly mobile Filipinos who once dreamed of owning a Civic or Mazda3 have to settle for their smaller kin. Still, carmakers seem to understand that while these buyers are willing to sacrifice a bit in terms of purchase price, they’re still willing to shell out for great convenience and tech features.

Thanks to the democratization of technology, small cars come loaded more than ever and two of the best examples in the market today are the Honda City and the Mazda2. But which one makes a better case as a family car? Well, capping off the price point at less than P 870,000, it’s time to pit the Honda City 1.5 E against the Mazda2 V+. Better prepare those pitchforks and torches keyboard warriors, this is going to get ugly.


They say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and there’s no better example of that than these two. Though the design brief of these two cars are on polar opposites, both of them are actually quite handsome. On one hand, there’s the Honda City, a car that’s been refreshed just this year. It’s funny, but the new look just makes the car pop up more. The new headlights, grille, bumpers, wheels—they all manage to create a more striking aesthetic than before. It’s actually hard to fault find in the City’s latest update, well maybe except for the fender-mounted signal light which is more 2008 than 2018.

On the other hand, there’s the Mazda2. The flowing, organic body style has continuously won it praise and while that still holds true today, you can’t help but think Mazda has skimped on some design details here and there. Move away from elements that catch attention like the big grinning grille and all, and it’s seen: simplistic-looking headlights, bee-sting type antenna. It’s a surefire way of Mazda driving home the point that this is an entry-level model. But if they provided side mirror integrated turn signals, what’s the added cost of going for a shark’s fin antenna or sophisticated looking projector headlights?

Winner: TIE


Let’s get one thing out of the way: the interior of the City 1.5 E is even better than the 1.5 VX Navi’s. The leather steering wheel is missed for sure, but at least for this variant, there’s no added visual distraction from the high-gloss paneling and stuff. Beauty is found in this dashboard’s simplicity and everything from the instruments to the controls is straightforward and easy to understand. It’s a welcome change from the typically confusing tech-laden dashboards so prevalent of late. And yet, you find everything there. On the flipside, the removal of any luxury trimming also emphasizes the cheap-feeling plastics. It’s well-built and free from rattles, but the texturing could have been executed better.

This is where the Mazda2 gains the decisive upper hand. Though the dashboard itself still doesn’t have much in terms of soft-touch materials, at least the texturing and consistency as there. It also helps that Mazda has chosen less scratchy plastics to adorn the dashboard, and most especially, the door panels. Aside from the top-notch materials, the Mazda2 also takes some of the best bits of other Mazda cars—instrument cluster, steering wheel, floating center display—and puts them into a well-laid out and easy-to-use cabin. Oh, and it seems the fit and finish issues of the Thai-built Mazda2 has been solved as well since everything is perfectly aligned with a solid feel.

Winner: Mazda2

Space and Practicality

From photos alone, it’s pretty obvious that the Mazda2 looks cramped, but it’s made all the more obvious when it’s driven back-to-back with the Honda City. Though the driving position is spot-on perfect and so are the seats, even average-sized Filipinos will find their knees banging against the unpadded shifter console. Passenger space, be it leg or shoulder is limited. Ditto the cargo hold. What’s more, there aren’t many cubby holes around. See the bin below the climate controls, the one in front of the shifter? That’s the only convenient place to put a smartphone and it can’t even fit a 5.5-inch unit horizontally. Plus, that space is shared with the USB ports, so it’s either the phone or the iPod. Even the center console fits just two cup holders and behind it, maybe a pair of shades. There’s no armrest too.

When it comes to space utilization, Honda has certainly knocked the ball out of the park with the City. Though the seats aren’t as snug as the Mazda2’s, they’re just as supportive. Plus, there are no banged knees or elbows here. Oh, ingress and egress are fair easier here too. It’s very easy to forget that this is actually classified as a sub-compact sedan. The City continues its winning streak with more storage spaces including well-placed cup holders (it’s front of the shifter), two conveniently placed smartphone pockets on both sides of the handbrake, and a proper armrest with a storage bin that helps keep valuables away from prying eyes. Moving to the trunk, it’s deep but not long or wide. Still, there are minimal protrusions, the biggest of which is the trunk lid hinge (admittedly, that part could have been designed better).

Winner: Honda City

Performance and Fuel Economy

This is actually the biggest surprise of this head-to-head test. With a reputation for creating cars that zoom-zoom, one thinks that the Mazda2 would run away with a landslide win. Well, that depends. For sure, between this and the City, it’s more agile, chuckable, and more exciting to drive. Already a great handler, it’s now equipped with G-Vectoring Control making it even more connected through corners. The brakes are also well-modulated with great bite thanks to its four-wheel disc setup. On the flipside, its connection to the road also makes it more susceptible to Manila’s terrible road surfaces, especially at low speeds. Though the solid structure isolates the occupants, it feels jumpy on uneven surfaces. And while the 6-speed automatic can keep up with almost any driving task (it has a Sport mode and paddle shifters to boot), being down on both horsepower and torque is noticeable during a back-to-back drive.

Meanwhile, the City trades that agile handling for a more grown up feel. Though the steering, throttle, and brakes all work with satisfying precision, it also feels much more detached. It’s still fairly obedient through corners, but the chassis doesn’t communicate its intentions as well as the Mazda. That said, what it gives up in intimate conversation with the driver, it gives back with a much more pliant ride. It’s cushy without any suspension float. It’s quieter too. As for its on-road responsiveness, the CVT takes more prodding but once it gets into the groove, it becomes quite adept. The City’s engine is also a tad smoother than the Mazda2’s. Though the Skyactiv-G engine’s not bad, there’s a persistent whirring sound that’s quite audible at lower speed. Now, the bigger surprise is how this E variant actually feels even better to drive than the VX Navi. There’s not much difference when it comes to weight, but it just feels peppier be it in a straight line or through corners. Still, the brakes still feel like an on/off switch.

Winner: TIE

Value for Money

Both of these cars may not have the same level of brochure worthy features as their respective higher-end variants, but they’re still solid value for money propositions. Though their prices are higher than subcompact cars of the past, both the Mazda2 and the City arrive well-loaded. At P 804,000, the 2018 City gets almost everything you need for a truly modern family car: LED DRLs, fog lights, steering wheel controls, Bluetooth hands-free, dual SRS airbags, 3-point safety belts for all, ISOFIX child seat anchors, and anti-lock brakes. Plus, there are some things that can’t be found in the spec sheet as well: larger for its class interior space, comfy ride, and good fuel economy. Oddly enough though, Honda has left out variable intermittent wipers (it’s not available even on the VX Navi) or any rear parking aids.

On the other hand, the Mazda2 V+ is more expensive (P 865,000 for the 5-door and P 895,000 for the 4-door), but the list of standard features is longer: leather steering wheel, paddle shifters, automatic climate control, automatic door locks, vehicle stability control, and rear parking sensors with reverse camera. The addition of these features would have easily made the higher price justifiable if not for the Mazda2’s lack of interior space. As a car for the young urban professional, the Mazda2 would have been a no brainer, but its appeal is limiting for those who’re looking at putting child seats at the back.

Winner: TIE


Controversially, this contest ends in a tie. But please, read on.

If this search were to find sportiest small car out there, the Mazda2 would have easily trounced the City be it in the E or VX Navi guise. Though there are some small details that made the V+ feel cheap (the exterior bits mostly), it turns the tide with its well-made interior and of course, the stellar driving experience. And let’s not forget the impressive list of standard features including the addition of G-Vectoring Control for this year. That said, it’s still let down by its cramped interior and choppy low speed ride—things which are forgivable to any driving enthusiast, but not to the mainstream buyer. This may be a subcompact in both size and form, but the experience behind the wheel tells a different story altogether.

Meanwhile, the Honda City does well to answer the needs of the typical Filipino family: good locks, spacious interior, soft ride, and commendable fuel economy. On top of that, it’s got solid mechanicals which are still pleasantly sporty, though maybe not as sporty as the Mazda’s. The City would have easily won this war if not for its lack of techie toys. Though solidly speced, this entry-level variant is not as generous as the Mazda. Yes, it is cheaper peso-wise, but it can’t be helped that side-by-side, the Mazda appears to be the better deal.

Indeed, these two subcompacts are so evenly matched that the eventual winner can only be determined by personal preference. If buying a car is out of necessity; out of the need for a comfy and spacious commuter for those with a kid or two, then the Honda City is the best bet. However, if buying a car is about desires; out of the need to remain a style standout with excellent driving dynamics to boot (and no family is on the way), then the choice is the Mazda2.

Winner: TIE

2018 Honda City 1.5 E vs 2017 Mazda2 V+
Ownership 2018 Honda City 1.5 E 2017 Mazda2 V+ Hatchback
Year Introduced Refreshed: 2017 Refreshed: 2017
Vehicle Classification Sub-compact Sedan Sub-compact Hatchback
The Basics
Body Type 4-door Sedan 5-door Hatchback
Seating 5 5
Engine / Drive F/F F/F
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 1.5 1.5
Aspiration Normally Aspirated Normally Aspirated
Fuel Delivery EFI Direct Injection
Layout / # of Cylinders I4 I4
BHP @ rpm 120 @ 6,600 108 @ 6,000
Nm @ rpm 145 @ 4,800 139 @ 4,000
Fuel / Min. Octane Gasoline / 91~ Gasoline / 91~
Transmission CVT 6 AT
Cruise Control No No
Fuel Economy @ Ave. Speed 8.6 km/L @ 11 km/h 8.4 km/L @ 11 km/h
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,440 4,060
Width (mm) 1,695 1,695
Height (mm) 1,477 1,495
Wheelbase (mm) 2,600 2,507
Curb Weight (kg) 1,091 1,019
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Torsion Beam Axle Torsion Beam Axle
Front Brakes Vented Disc Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Drum Disc
Tires Bridgestone Turanza ER370
175/55 R 15 T (f & r)
Dunlop Enasave EC300+
185/65 R 15 T (f & r)
Wheels Alloy Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 2 2
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes Yes
Traction / Stability Control No Yes
Parking Sensors No Yes, with Camera
Other Safety Features No No
Exterior Features
Headlights Halogen Halogen
Fog Lamps Front Front, LED
Auto Lights No No
Rain-sensing Wipers No No
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjust Tilt/Telescopic Tilt/Telescopic
Steering Wheel Material Urethane Leather
Seating Adjustment Manual Manual
Seating Surface Fabric Fabric
Folding Rear Seat No Yes, 60/40
On-Board Computer Yes Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes Yes
Power Door Locks Yes Yes
Power Windows Yes Yes
Power Mirrors Yes Yes
Climate Control Manual Yes
Audio System Stereo
# of Speakers 4 6
Steering Controls Yes Yes


  1. Hahaha. This site sure knows how to get the readers' attention, and err, start a war on brand fanboys. Good thinking!

  2. My Mazda 2 V+ Sedan has a side mirror-integrated turn signal and has a glass-integrated antena. Are those the difference of the hatch and 4 door version? I've never checked the hatch.

  3. i know this is difficult to trll, but i wonder about the reliability/aftersales of both brands?


    1. Both brands are reliable.
      There isn't that much issues with the skyactive M2.
      As for the aftersales Honda definitely takes that one.

    2. FFS, please don't call mazda cars as M2, M3, etc... those are for BMW M cars. Call it a 2 or a 3. You class-less dog.

  4. The Suzuki Ciaz will destroy these cars because of power to weight ratio according to autoactiv...

  5. The Honda City is indeed very practical. Fuel efficient, good looking, easy to maintain, spacious interior and peppy acceleration even when ECON mode in turned on.

    Tried and tested that it doesn't scrape off on steep inclines and declines.

  6. Mazda 2 looks abnormally small for a subcompact sedan. Hatch looks a bit better.

  7. Hi Uly,

    Is the Honda City's front overhang high enough for steep inclines? Thanks!

    1. No problem with steep inclines, though the Mazda2 without any body kits did better (more confidence taking it at speed).

  8. Just add a little more and get the Mazda 2 RS or better yet, add 20k more and get the base variant of the Mazda 3. If you have a family, get the city or jazz just as the author said. Mazdas are tighter than Hondas. Although it doesn't bother my 5'9 lean frame. Can't say for taller or fatter people.

    1. Or get a base ford focus with a 1.5L turbo.

    2. Accent diesel na lng. 12 kpl city 30 hiway. Laking tipid pa kesa gas

    3. Actually, I have a high praise for the Hyundai Accent mostly due to its quick and very efficient engine. Sometimes I wish that the 2.2L diesel engine for the Mazda 3 is available here due to the very heavy traffic that takes a heavy toll on my fuel consumption.

      -Mazda 3 R 2.0 2017 owner here.

    4. Quick? Sort of. Efficient? Definitely. But... Korean and diesel don't go well together. Takaw maintenance yan sigurado. Reliability is a big question mark.

  9. Kung 10 years ago hindi reliable ang mga korean cars pero tingnan mo ngayon tops na ang mga korean sa dependability ayon sa jd power. Accent is undoubtedly fast. Subukan mo rin kaya kung kaya mong habulin accent hatch sa city o mazda mo.

    1. Based sa reliability measures yun ABROAD. Nasa Pilipinas tayo at majority ng Hyundai at Kia units dito sa atin puro mga sirain at stripped off ng mga safety features.

      Ang masaklap pa nun, overpriced pa at sobrang pahirapan sa warranty claims.

    2. Bakit da china ba galing natin na hindi reliable dito? Yung sa abroad nga galing japan pa units nila e mas reliable pa ba yung galing thailand kesa galing japan? Baka you're blinded by your fanboy obsession...

    3. Eh di bumili ka ng Hyundai at Kia gaya ng pinaglalaban nyo. Wag ka lang iiyak iyak dito kapag naranasan mo yung masira agad kotse mo. Kung alam mo lang kung gaano umiiyak mga Hyundai owners sa pagsisisi dahil sirain auto nila. LOL!

  10. So, basically, this comparo is like any other Honda vs. Mazda comparo for the past several years. If you need more interior space, get the Honda. Otherwise, get the Mazda.

  11. Sir Uly, off topic. i really want to ask this question. What is the actual fuel consumption ng Mazda 3 1.5V? I was planning to buy for my everyday use,but im worried about its consumption on tge daily traffic. Thank you

    1. It's roughly the same as the Mazda3 2.0 with i-stop on. That's about 8.8 km/L during our test.

  12. magkakatalo sa maintenance yan mahal mazda

    1. Actually, Mazda has a 5 year free PMS program.

  13. Mazda V+ and City VX Navi should have been the more appropriate comparison. Also, there is no way the interior of the City 1.5 E is better than the VX Navi’s, and I don't see how the piano black panel on the dashboard is a distraction.

    1. The comparison are sub compact cars below P870k. If the Mazda2 V+ were to be compared to the City VX Navi, the Mazda would have edged out.

      As for the piano black accent, the high gloss material actually reflects sunlight back at your face.

  14. At the end of the day, Mazda is still better

  15. HONDA CITY is better choice.

  16. Here in the Philippine setting it's obvious that the Honda City lords it over the Mazda2. Just try observing the roads. For every Mazda2 you see out there there's an equivalent of about 10 Citys overtaking it.

  17. Just got the red City and lovin it! only comment - why their not covering the back side of the trunk door? The digi display is superb - reminds me of HTC phone designs and its easy to use. Seats ergo are comfy even in long heavy traffics. I dont think the Mazda can ever beat Honda in overall.

  18. i love my city 2018 RED.. worth to buy! ;)

  19. Beauy is in the eyes of the beholder, but for me its Honda City got the looks designed better.

  20. Just got my Honda City VX 2018. It's like you're driving paper.. light, smooth, swabe!

  21. May I know what was the tint used in the city red? Was that magic tint or heavy tint?

  22. Is the price difference of City E and VX worth the add’l specs on VX? I know it’s not that much, just want inputs to decide. Thanks

  23. Honda City E beats Mazda 2V+ imho. Driving comfort, space, fuel consumption, reliability, aftersales service, higher engine specs, parts availability. These are the things Filipinos will consider first in buying their car. Mazda 2 probably will be more of a college students car na pang porma.


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