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August 20, 2019

Review: 2019 Mazda2 Premium Series

Last year, a friend was deciding on her first car and one of the options that I recommended, straight out, was the Mazda2. Back then, the new generation Premium line had not even been launched; and the last year model of the Mazda2 that I was able to drive was the 2017. Yet, the impression remained that this was a car worth keeping on the list if you’re on the market for a no-nonsense, reliable sub-compact that came with impeccable style.

Having had the opportunity to get to know the Premium Series Mazda2 better, it was clear that this was the brand’s effort at leveling up its well-loved sub-compact from #BFF to #RelationshipGoals.

On the outside, this was the Mazda2 that we all know and love; with that familiar curvature, the signature smooth line that connects straight from nose to tail, and the undeniable long sloping hood that ends right above the brand’s emblem. The overall look is made younger with a subtle sport strip that cut across both side mirrors. It is an element that complements the red strip that is present on the front grille, right where the emblem rests. In fact, if you look even closer, the car’s aluminum alloy wheels carry the same red piping that weave through the machine-polished silver.

These represent Mazda’s attention to detail—so subtle that you almost miss it, but entirely cool when you spot it.

The interior of the Premium Series 2 makes it true to its name. While this may be the Mazda2’s last hurrah before the launch of yet another refresh, it pulled out (almost) all of the stops at offering an upgraded experience. Take, for instance, the trim and upholstery. While others stop at leather seating, the Mazda2’s genuine leather seats come with a plush, suede upper that gave it a luxe texture. Likewise, the combination of deep, almost-black grey and dark brown leather trim that covered most of the interior details up until the door frame made the overall ambience feel elevated. Almost pretentious, if you will.

To complement that imagery and bring the tonality back to Earth, Mazda integrated a nostalgic, yet logical layout for its controls. First, it employed turn-knobs instead of buttons for its air conditioning controls. For those who are familiar with the traditional type of controls, this format makes it second-nature when making adjustments. It also complements the infotainment control panel located between the gear shift and the center console.

Second, there is a CD player slot. For an actual CD. While I’m not entirely sure why Mazda decided to integrate a CD player into its audio system, it’s nice to know that the vehicle was also made with the ’90’s kid in mind. It may not be a deciding factor, but always good to have.

Third, the USB charging ports and car lighter port are located right below the CD player and air conditioning knobs for easy access. It would have been perfect, especially with the resting pad connected to it where you can park your smartphone, wallet, keys, or what-have-you. Except that USB ports refused to charge my iPhone—both of them. I was told that these don’t provide enough juice to power a smartphone; and that for it to do so, the Apple CarPlay/Android Auto retrofit would be needed (shame).

Fourth, and this may be the one element — aside from the CD slot — that I am confused about. Why the rotary air conditioning vents? While the rotary vents give the interior a vintage touch, combining it with the modern horizontal vents is awkward. Are we trying to be old-school cool or modern, but not really? On the other hand, rotary vents work in terms of the overall design as it goes hand-in-hand with the control knobs and the infotainment panel board.

Moving on from the interior design details, the structure of the cabin is well-built. As a driver and passenger, there is comfort and practicality in every reach. In a previous review of the CX-3, the AWD sub-compact built off the Mazda2 platform, one of my concerns was the lack of interior space. Surprisingly, I found the seating of the Mazda2 to be more generous—there was ample wiggle room, the bucket design was more forgiving than constricting, and my shoulders did not feel like it was confined to the edges of the seatback.

The legroom could use improvement, especially in the back. While the driver and passenger have the luxury of adjusting their seats, other passengers will have to contend having legs folded at almost 90-degrees at all times, unless you are a very petite individual. Otherwise, the second-row seats are as plush as the front—all leather and suede.

Speaking of practicality, a commending feature of the Mazda2 is its cargo hold. For a sub-compact of its size, I was expecting less than satisfactory trunk space. Rather, there is enough space for at least 1 medium-sized luggage and 1 carry-on, and then perhaps some leftover for a couple of backpacks. This makes the little hatchback perfect to hold enough load for a weekend road trip out of town or for you to bring a family member to the airport for a week-long trip.

Road trip, you say? As usual, the magic of a Mazda happens behind the wheel. Strap yourself into the Mazda2, get settled, and get comfy with the familiarity of having the car feel like an extension of you. This is one thing that has not changed with every Mazda that I have driven. Sure, the long hood and narrow window panes take some getting used to, especially when coming from the visibility levels of an SUV. But once you’re in the driver’s seat and the power smoothly kicks in, you’ll be reminded again of what makes a Mazda, a Mazda.

For 2019, the Mazda2 runs on a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder Skyactiv-G engine—the predecessor of the engine found in the all-new Mazda3. Since it’s already good enough for Mazda’s compact car, it’s even better in this smaller, lighter car. It has enough output to make it feel just right for daily city driving, but never lacking for the occasional weekend out-of-town. Steering is light and stable, and while the suspension can get bouncy at times, it remains comfortable.

Seeing the words, “Mazda2” and “Premium” seem like an oxymoron—contradictory terms that make little sense. Yet, that’s exactly what the Mazda2 is. Classy, yet sporty; luxurious, yet down-to-earth. Spend even a short time with it, and it’s clear that a positive first impression quickly turns into an elevated experience. It satisfies just about anyone, even a discerning enthusiast. The 2019 Mazda2 Premium Series remain unequaled in bringing passion for driving and desire for elegance in the sub-compact category.

Words and Photos by Gen Tiu

2019 Mazda2 Premium Series
Ownership 2019 Mazda2 Premium Series
Year Introduced 2015 (Refreshed: 2017)
Vehicle Classification Sub-compact Hatchback
Warranty 3 years / 100,000 kilometers
The Basics
Body Type 5-door Hatchback
Seating 5
Engine / Drive F/F
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 1.5
Aspiration Normally Aspirated
Fuel Delivery Direct Injection
Layout / # of Cylinders I4
BHP @ rpm 108 @ 6,000
Nm @ rpm 139 @ 4,000
Fuel / Min. Octane Gasoline / 91~
Transmission 6 AT
Cruise Control No
Fuel Economy @ Ave. Speed 8.77 km/L @ 13 km/h
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,060
Width (mm) 1,695
Height (mm) 1,495
Wheelbase (mm) 2,570
Curb Weight (kg) 1,019
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Torsion Beam Axle
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Disc
Tires Dunlop Enasave EC300+ 185/60 R 16 H (f & r)
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 6
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes, with EBD
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors Yes, Rear with Camera
Front Seatbelts 3-pt ELR with pre-tensioner x 2
Rear Seatbelts 3-pt ELR x 3
ISOFIX Child Seat Anchor Yes
Other Safety Features None
Exterior Features
Headlights LED
Fog Lamps Yes, LED
Auto Lights Yes
Rain-sensing Wipers Yes
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjust Tilt/Telescopic
Steering Wheel Material Leather
Seating Adjustment (driver) Manual, 6-way
Seating Adjustment (front passenger) Manual, 4-way
Seating Surface Leather/Suede
Folding Rear Seat Yes, 60/40
On-Board Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes, with Fold
Proximity Key Yes
Climate Control Yes
Audio System Stereo
USB x 2
SD Card
# of Speakers 6
Steering Controls Yes

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