The newly revised Mazda2 — Demio in its home market of Japan — won’t be in United States showrooms until sometime during the 2016 model year, but when it does arrive, it will be bringing along its first award: the 2014-2015 Car of the Year Japan, as presented by the Japan Car of the Year Committee.
Unlike the American motoring press, the Brits have never been as enthusiastic about Mazda. Even though countless journalists have extolled the virtues of the Mazda3, the Golf and Focus always seem to take the top spot in the C-segment evaluations. But the Mazda2 might be a…wait for it…game changer.
You’re looking at the next Toyota Yaris. Seriously. Under the terms of a deal struck with Toyota, Mazda’s all-new Mexican assembly plant will build the next Mazda2 and the Toyota Yaris on a single, Mazda-derived platform.
For many Americans, the words “Ford Fiesta” dredges up memories of a claustrophobic rattle-trap competing with “Geo Metro” for the title of Worst American Small Car. Personally, the only time I ever wanted a fiesta was during a drunken weekend in Cabo, and it had more to do with tequila than cars. But that was four years ago and 214,000 Fiestas ago. Since then the Fiesta has proved that an American car company is capable of creating a desirable compact car. Is the party over, or is the car’s first refresh a sign that the party has just begun? Let’s find out.
How quickly can you build a race car? If you start with a Mazda2, the answer is “25 hours or less”. Mazda performed a quick B-spec build at the PRI show a few months ago. Sharp-eyed viewers will notice the “Long Road Racing” sticker on the rear bumper, leading me to guess that drivers with the appropriate credentials will be able to rent it from the firm.
B-Spec racing can be fun, as you’ll see in a few upcoming articles where we take a Mazda2 and run it in B-Spec against competition in the Canadian Touring Car Challenge and Grand-Am’s Total Performance Challenge.
Remember the legendary Toyota Tercel? Sorry, trick question—there was no legendary Toyota Tercel. Between 1980 and 2000 five generations of tiny Toyotas came and went, leaving nary a trace in car guy lore. Toyota followed up the Tercel with the Echo. The new car was memorable…for ridiculous Gen Y marketing, an ugly exterior, a cheap interior, bobbly handling, and a harsh ride. All but admitting failure, Toyota not only let the Echo die on the vine as a “special order only” car but, taking a page from the GM playbook, euthanized the nameplate as well. A Yaris successor succeeded in that it continued the Tercel tradition of utter unmemorability. Emboldened by this success, Toyota has not only retained the Yaris nameplate for a second generation, but is pitching an SE variant at people who actually like to drive. Will we remember this one, and for the right reasons?