TOKYO -- Mazda Motor Corp. began manufacturing the next-generation Mazda2 subcompact in Japan today and unveiled the first pictures of the production model.
It features the sharp creases and sportier stance of the brand’s new Kodo design language.
The fourth-generation Mazda2, called the Demio in Japan, will go on sale here in the fall, Mazda said in a statement. It will hit American showrooms in 2015.
It is the first Mazda2 to be equipped with the full suite of Mazda’s fuel-saving Skyactiv technologies, including new engines, transmissions, body, and chassis. It is the fourth Mazda nameplate to receive the Skyactiv makeover, after the CX-5 crossover and Mazda6 and Mazda3 sedans.
Production began at Mazda’s Hofu plant in southwestern Japan for the domestic market and certain export destinations. The U.S. version is expected to be sourced from Mazda’s new plant in Salamanca, Mexico, which opened earlier this year and makes the Mazda3.
Supplemental volume for the U.S. market may also come from Japan, but Mazda has not detailed sourcing plans yet. Currently all Mazda2s are imported from Japan.
U.S. sales of the outgoing Mazda2 surged 42 percent to 7,957 vehicles in the first six months of the year, from 5,594 the year before, as the carmaker cleared out inventories.
But last year, sales of the aging nameplate, which is getting its first full redesign in seven years, slumped 39 percent to 11,757.
That ranked it near the bottom of the subcompact segment, way below such rivals as the Chevrolet Sonic, the Ford Fiesta, the Honda Fit, the Kia Soul, the Nissan Versa, the Hyundai Accent and the Toyota Yaris.
The update features Mazda’s new Kodo design language, complete with curvy fender flairs, sharp side creasing and shield grille. Its posture boasts more attitude with a longer hood and rear-slung cabin accentuated by a raked rear and wheels pushed to the corners.
A concept version, dubbed the Hazumi, debuted at this year’s Geneva Motor Show.
In Japan, the Mazda2 will get Mazda’s 1.5-liter Skyactiv-D diesel engine and a 1.3-liter Skyactiv-G gasoline engine.
Mazda did not disclose powertrain offerings planned for other markets. But the United States model is expected to be equipped with a 1.5-liter engine from the same line of high-compression power plants.
The next Mazda2 will also provide the basis for a new subcompact sedan from Toyota Motor Corp. That car will be made in Salamanca, where Mazda has allocated about 50,000 vehicles for Toyota from its full annual capacity of 230,000 units. While that car will get Skyactiv underpinnings, including a Skyactiv engine, it will have a Toyota-designed body.
Output for Toyota is expected to begin after April 1, 2015, but before March 31, 2016.