LOS ANGELES -- Mazda will enter America's rapidly expanding small-car segment when it launches the Mazda2 here in fall 2010.
The five-door hatchback, which is smaller than the Mazda3, is based on the same platform as the Ford Fiesta, which debuts in the United States next summer. The Mazda2 will compete with the Fiesta as well as such vehicles as the Toyota Yaris, Honda Fit and Chevrolet Aveo.
Mazda dealers were told of the addition to the lineup this week at their national meeting in Palm Springs, Calif. The U.S.-spec Mazda2 will be unveiled at the Los Angeles auto show in December.
The current version of the Mazda2 has been on sale in Europe and Japan since 2007 and was voted 2008 World Car of the Year by a panel of auto journalists. In Japan, it is known as the Demio.
The Mazda2's arrival in the United States will coincide with a minor midcycle face-lift. The brand's “smiling” front fascia, seen on the Mazda3, is expected to replace the existing version.
In Europe, the Mazda2 is offered with several gasoline and diesel engines. The U.S. edition will feature only a gasoline-powered, 1.5-liter four-cylinder. That version in Europe delivers 103 hp and 101 pounds-feet of torque. It propels the Mazda2 from 0 to 62 mph in 10.4 seconds while delivering 41 mpg in Europe's “combined” driving cycle test.
The Mazda2 is offered as both a three- and five-door in Europe, but only the five-door will be available in the United States. It comes only with a five-speed manual transmission in Europe, but the U.S. version will be available with a five-speed automatic, a Mazda source said.
The source said the Mazda2's interior will be upgraded from the European edition, which has been criticized for its look and feel.
Mazda has not disclosed pricing, but the sticker could present a problem. A well-equipped Mazda2 likely will creep into Mazda3 turf.
In England, the Mazda2 is priced at about $16,750, when converted from British pounds and with value-added tax, license and registration costs deducted. The U.S. version will be priced lower.