"Grip Zone" sucks.
Edit: Didn't see the whole "most insightful" part of this, so let me expand.
In Springfield's defense, the XD is hard to beat. Great ergonomics for an extremely diverse user-base, a reputation of reliability borrowed from other product lines and built on the XD platform itself, and customer service that really backs each and every product they've sold.
However, I believe the redesign is a huge letdown for many fans of the product line here on this site, especially when you consider the gimmicky "Grip Zone" lettering.
In a day and age where people fret over large billboard logos on classicly styled 1911's, and in most cases pay more for simple rollmarks and engravings on production guns - save for actual works of art done by a master smith on high end firearms - the "Grip Zone" lettering is unnecessary and obnoxious. When a product description contains almost as many "TM" symbols as sentences, that worries me, but when a product begins wearing these monikers as badges of honor, it is appalling. That's not all though - there are a few more issues that should be addressed with the newly introduced subcompact.
First of all, the best refinisher and arguably one of the most highly respected members here stated that something to the effect of "98% of internals will swap over from a normal XD". I understand Springfield's approach here - if it's not broken, why fix it? With the popularity of aftermarket trigger kits, however, there is a LOT to be desired from what I hear is the standard trigger in the XD product line that's also found a home in the new Mod.2. What a 98% part compatibility also tells me that Springfield spent more time playing with their CNC machines than figuring improvements to trigger / sear geometry or adding any sort of robust-ness to the internals of this pistol. These flaws are missed opportunities by SA.
Secondly, for all the work they put into the Grip Zone (and the marketing hype), they easily could have made the panels (specifically the rear) end-user adjustable. I believe the same pin that holds the grip safety could be made to hold different size or textured backstraps - to me, again, this is a missed opportunity for Springfield.
Thirdly, the entire pistol seems like a poor total execution of a decent design. I personally like the look of the updated texture, however, with a little closer inspection, it seems Springfield cut some corners. One of the most glaring mis-steps to me in the design process is the continued use of the original X-Tension sleeves on the extended mags. Not only does it look like Springfield outright forgot about the sleeves, it was a pretty poor design to begin with. The rounded blocks supposed to enhance positive purchase of the additional grip length leave a lot to be desired. Other corners that look to be cut - the lack of texturing (or the "Zone 3" texture) at the palms and in the frame thumb cuts really annoys me, as when I shoot, those are areas that I put a lot of emphasis on, especially with the palm of my support hand.
If I boil down my remarks to this point, I guess I should be reviewing aesthetics rather than function. I believe this pistol is a step in a good direction aesthetically. The tapered side and updated styling of the slide looks great. The way the frame matches with the slide is very appealing. The recesses for thumbs and the undercut trigger guard are also both welcome changes. I am also very happy to see a FO front sight and an updated rear sight as well. I've always believed that with the addition of a Pearce pinky extension for the standard magazine, the XDsc was one of the best options for medium capacity concealed carry, and the Mod.2 doesn't change that... it's just unfortunate to me that they spent so much time updating the looks for something that will likely spend a lot of time hidden.
I won't be purchasing a Mod.2 because I own the "first generation" of the XD9sc, and I believe Springfield missed a couple big opportunities here. Hopefully SA will listen to consumers and make better improvements to the lineup in the future.