07 September 2015

MAZDA 2 MEDIA DRIVE

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To most people, a regular commute would entail an average of 15 to 30 kilometers a day. In Cebu, im told that to most people, a thirty minute drive is far and long enough for most Cebuanos. So when I joined the Mazda 2 media drive and I was informed that we would do 300 kilometers of highways and provincial roads down south, I silently gulped, smiled and hoped that all the new features of the vehicle as discussed by the Japanese technical design team were spot on. Of all the things that were said about the car three things lingered in my thoughts… Oneness with the car for performance and handling, soul of motion design (KODO) for posterity and snug and comfortable seats for my posterior. Due to the daunting task at hand, the third thought became really important to me, however… knowing that the new Mazda 2 is lighter and sports a more powerful engine turned my thoughts to daydream about open roads, dynamic twisting road sections or even a chance to sneak it on to a race track. I was awakened from my high velocity dream when they announced the vehicle assignments and I was delighted with the news that I will be sharing the car with Senor Bam Olivares and Ronnie “Racing Reyrey” Trinidad.

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A quick 360 inspection of the car revealed strong sweeping lines that denotes speed, a strong stance and predatory eyes that are sleek and stylishly sharp bringing the Mazda 2’s design up to date. The interior is well built and feels roomy. The driver seat and pedal positions are well balanced giving the driver a straight and comfortable seating position. The dashboard and instrument panels are ergonomically designed making all the controls easily accessible to the driver. The flushed air-conditioning vents give it a touch of sleekness and reinforces the feeling of spaciousness. The seats have all the necessary supports and looks very capable of holding the driver and passenger firmly in place.

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We started the drive from Nuvali towards Startollway into Lipa City, and I remember my heart racing as we were nearing the Batangas Racing Circuit, there was chatter on the radio trying to persuade our lead driver Mikko David to skip lunch altogether an just go on track, but Mikko politely declined and pushed on to our lunch venue. After a hearty lunch, we soldiered on towards Liliw, Laguna, did a pictorial on a couple of churches to appreciate the beauty of the all new Mazda 2 along with the majesty of our historic churches. As late afternoon came, we then proceeded on to San Pablo and a bit of traffic as we made our way to a bypass road that eventually led us back to Startollway and SLEX up to Santa Rosa going to Tagaytay for a last splash and dash for both cars and drivers before heading to the finish at Picco de Loro.

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As we were driving along, tearing away at the kilometers and chomping down on asphalt and concrete roads, I felt a positive connection with the car, it really makes the driver feel that he is one with the car. The Steering is crisply precise, it is light enough to steer with ease but still manages to give the driver good feedback. The torque is almost explosive but controlled mostly due to Mazda’s new electronic wizardry… the re-mapping of the ECU to respond faster off the line as soon as the throttle is engaged, making it more efficient and seemingly powerful. Power delivery from the 1.5 Skyactiv engine is smooth and lively making overtaking on narrow roads very easy indeed, canyon carving is a very pleasurable experience as it gives you confidence to take the turns faster than you normally would as body roll is very minimal not to mention it has the power to pull you out of trouble should you go beyond the limits of traction. Mazda developed this suspension with keen intent to balance ride comfort for daily driving and cornering performance for when you put it on its paces on the twisties. It was very hard for me to safely explore the limits of traction for this car because it had loads of it and I couldn’t predict how it will react when I bring it over the limit, simply put, my concern was I was already entering the corners at faster than normal speeds and it still manages to grip and feel very planted. Will it suddenly snap in an uncontrollable spin? Or will it break traction progressively? I didn’t dare try it on open roads for obvious safety reasons but I have a feeling that it will be uncannily fast when it does break traction.

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Whenever I think about my experience with the 2, I can’t help but be amazed of how good the brakes felt, it really is that good… it lets you instantly feel what is happening during all kinds of braking situations via its ABS and Electronic Brake Distribution features (EBD).

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I expect the New Mazda 2 to be a strong contender in its segment, giving prospective buyers a choice of between a 5 door hatchback, or a 4 door sedan. There are 8 colors to choose from as well as an R variant which has all the bells and whistles including the MZD connect and 16 inch wheels over the 15 inch rims on the standard variants.

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