Japanese automaker, Mazda, is poised to enter the rapidly growing U.S. small-car market with the launch of its Mazda2 in fall of 2010.
Smaller than the Mazda3, the “2”, five-door hatchback is based on the Ford Fiesta platform with which it is designed to compete. Other competitors in Mazda’s sights are the Toyota Yaris, Chevy Aveo and Honda Fit.
Mazda made the announcement during its national dealers meeting this week in Palm Springs, California. The U.S. market version of the Mazda2 will debut this December at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
Mazda has marketed the Mazda2 in Japan and Europe since 2007, and in 2008 the model was named World Car of the Year by a distinguished panel of automotive journalists. In its native country of Japan, the Mazda2 is marketed as the Demio.
The Mazda2 will undergo a minor redesign in preparation for its arrival in U.S. dealer showrooms. Mazda says that the “smiling” fascia seen in the Mazda3 will replace the front grill lines of the current Mazda2.
The European-spec version of the Mazda2 is available in a variety of gas and diesel engine configurations. The U.S. edition will only be available with a gas-powered, 1.5-liter, four cylinder engine. The European version of the Mazda2 delivers 103 horsepower and 101 pound-feet of torque with acceleration of 0 to 62 mph in 10.4 seconds. Fuel efficiency is estimated at 41 mpg.
The European version is available in both three- and five-door configurations, but Mazda has said that only the five-door version will be available in the U.S. Another difference between the European- and U.S.-spec models will be transmission options. Mazda has only offered 5-speed manual transmissions in its European versions but will offer American buyers the option of either a manual or automatic transmission.
Mazda is also expected to upgrade the interior features of the U.S. version to have a more luxurious and less utilitarian feel than that of the European release. The Mazda2’s interior has been the target of some criticism in the past.
Pricing on a well-equipped Mazda2 is expected to be comparable to the Mazda3. In the UK, the Mazda2 is priced at around £10,234 ($16,750 U.S.) excluding license and registration costs. Mazda has indicated that its price on the U.S. version will be lower.