Zoom² Part Deux
The Mazda cheerfully tackles tough corners with grace and aplomb. It doesn’t complain much, nor does it exhibit any nasty habits. At the limit, understeer rules the day, and for the novice driver, lifting the throttle sets things right in an instant.
The electrically assisted steering was lighter than what our ham fisted limbs would have preferred, but it certainly wasn’t short of road feel. This puts the Mazda miles ahead of the effectively “dead” Toyota Yaris, just under the ranks of a Suzuki Swift Sport, which is positively “tight” in terms of driving pleasure with it's more precise steering centre.
For the enthusiast seeking a little more in terms of fun, we do not deny that the “2” can be made into a tail happy, oversteering maniac, or a well balanced one while you're at that. Playing around with the suspension and alignment settings should get you somewhere. Lets not forget swapping those wheels – the 16 inchers on our test car were equipped with relatively thin, 195/45 profile tyres.
The brakes were a pleasant ending to any form of hard acceleration and speed. They were certainly up to task, slowing the car down dramatically from high speeds in a straight line. A minimal amount of pedal play was felt, and there was a nice, firm, reassuring feel to it all.
The cheapest Mazda 2 available would be the no fuss “V Grade” manual, which retails for $56,988. The “V” finds you with a single-disc MP3 player, 15 inch alloy rims with 185/55 profile tyres, 2 airbags and fog lamps.
A “V Grade” automatic adds a thousand dollars to the price, while the top of the line “R Grade” automatic that we've tested retails for just under sixty grand. For $58,988, you add no less than SIX airbags, 16 inch alloys with 195/45 profile tyres, a barrage of body styling accessories like a sportier front grill, roof spoiler, front, rear and side skirts, and of course a ton of weight. Perfect for being overtaken by the lesser, but lighter “V Grade” variant while you watch in embarrassment.
Of course, a manual “R Grade” is available for $57,988 with the same number of options as the automatic “R”. All this for only $1000 more than the manual "V", and that is fantastic value. The same applies for the automatic.
To sum it all up, cute, quirky styling suitable for young punks and married couples on the go, above average ride quality and handling capabilities and of course, an i-Pod input jack. You didn’t think they’d forget, did you?
Credits: Text and Photos by Amery Reuben and Leonard Lim