Have practicality and common sense made some modern cars boring and dull? While we do appreciate well-packaged automobiles that have a no non-sense approach and design, it seems as though it might have killed the creative side of some automakers.
Thankfully, Mazda has not fully succumbed to that way of thinking. Instead of making cars just for the heck of it, Mazda wants to keep making cars that are fun and evocative, not to mention good-looking from every direction. With sharp Kodo styling, along with efficient and powerful SkyActiv powertrains, Mazda was able to combine performance and sleek looks into a neat little package.
Perhaps one of the best examples of the company’s philosophy is the humble Mazda2. It’s their smallest offering yet and is a favorite amongst us here in . While we were already impressed with the mid-range V+ from before, Mazda decided to take it up a notch with this, the Java Edition. Serving as one of three special edition models (the others being the Katana and Crimson), it blends stylish looks with high-tech features, all while keeping the potent 1.5-liter SkyActiv engine under the hood. But is the Java Edition worth looking into with its hyped-up exterior?
Since we're already talking about its aesthetics, why don't we take a closer look? If you're wondering why it's called the Java Edition, it's because it's painted in a unique finish called 'Titanium Flash'. From the moment I first laid eyes on it I was immedately attracted to the brown, earth-like hue. Unlike the other standard colors, this special finish brings out the lines and muscular curves of the tiny hatchback more.
Then there's the unique bodykit painted in red which further adds to Java Edition's already striking exterior. Other portions of the Mazda2 like the center part of the front grill, side mirror caps, rear wing, sharkfin antenna, and even the 16-inch alloy wheels also get a nice touch of red accents. Did I mention it also comes with neat splashes of chrome? Always a nice touch if I do say so myself.
Sure some might say the Java Edition is a bit outlandish, but personally I liked it. Instead of conforming to the usual styles, Mazda wanted to make their hatchback have a meaner, more aggressive look to it. It won't exactly be winning over everyone's tastes, but it surely is a stand out from the rest of the pack.
Hop inside the hatchback, and you are greeted by heaps of leather, piano black trim, and faux metal finishes. Yes it gets the same interior design as its lesser counterparts, but the materials used in the Java Edition look and feel more premium. The seats are covered in a mix of leather and suede and are comfortable on long drives. In addition, the cabin also gets a two-tone finish that consist of burgundy and dark brown, mimicking the Titanium Flash with red exterior hue from the otuside. To be honest, I was initially not a fan of the color combination. However, it did eventually grew on me since it was a nice change up from the usual black / gray upholstery found in other hatchbacks.
Since the Java Edition is based off the range-topping RS, it’s choc-full of amenities and features. Besides having the usual automatic climate control, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, multi-info display, and MZD infotainment system, it also comes with the following extras: heads-up display, automatic LED headlights, automatic rain-sensing wipers, as well as leather trim on the door cards.
What’s not to like in the Mazda2? Its cabin space, or lack thereof. It may be as long as the Honda Jazz but that’s where the similarities end. Anyone towering over 5’8 will find the accommodations at the back tight and a bit cramped. Sure, the 2570 mm wheelbase looks generous, but that does not translate to spacious legroom however. Headroom is also quite lacking due to the sloping roofline which eats into the cabin. Luggage space, on the other hand, is adequate for its size and is capable of holding two to three duffel bags with ease, alongside smaller items. Should you need more cargo space, the 60:40 split rear seats can be folded to make additional room.
Propelling the Java Edition is the familiar 1.5-liter SkyActiv-G four-cylinder with direct injection. It puts out 108 PS at 6000 rpm along with 139 Nm of torque at 4000 rpm. The engine is then hooked up to a six-speed automatic transmission complete with paddle shifters. Like what I’ve said before from the other Mazda2s I’ve reviewed in the past, it’s no hot hatch but it has all the makings of one, and then some.
Hit the throttle wide open and the powertrain just comes alive with eagerness. Despite producing less than 110 horsepower, it feels as if the engine has more power as you climb up the revs. Then there’s the smooth-shifting transmission which puts the power down to the pavement with ease. Set the transmission to Sport mode and you have one eager hatchback that stays on the powerband, great for those spirited drives up in the mountains or deserted back roads.
When you’re done having fun carving mountain passes, the Mazda2 reverts back into a pedestrian-friendly hatchback around town. With a light foot, the revs practically hover at just around 1,500 rpm when you're just tooling around. And as far as fuel economy is concerned, the Mazda2 is capable of averaging 9.0 - 10.0 km/l in city driving. Highway figures, on the other hand hover around 17.0 - 18.0 km/l.
Thanks to its compact dimensions, short size, and far flung wheel wells, attacking corners and tight bends with the Mazda2 was a cinch. Point the car onto the direction you want it to go to and it just follows with no delay. Complementing its sharp handling is its electronic power steering (EPS) system. Unlike most systems which lack feedback, the one on the Mazda2 felt natural. Sure it still felt numb under certain driving conditions, but it’s marginally better than the other systems from other brands.
The drawback, however, from having a good handling hatchback is the stiff ride. Those looking to have a sedate ride in the Mazda2 might have to look elsewhere. Go over bumpy roads and the Mazda2 bounces around due to the stiff dampers. Combined with its short wheelbase, the Mazda2 is not exactly a hatchback I would recommend for those that want a soft-riding five-door.
Retailing at a hefty Php 1,085,000, the Java Edition is not exactly a budget-friendly hatchback. Rather, it's for those that prefer style (and a bit of performance) over practicality. If you want everything that you'll ever need in a small family hatchback, but also want a cool-looking daily, then the Mazda2 Java Edition may be the car you're looking for.