Japanese automaker Mazda is open to the idea of building a new subcompact car on the scale of the Mini Cooper or Opel Adam, according to a new report from Autocar. Mazda is said to be actively considering building a new "premium supermini" to rival similar European models.
While Mazda has yet to make an official pronouncement, vice president of Mazda Europe R&D Ichiro Hirose told Autocar that Mazda is "interested in the premium sub-B class, and we could have a car launched within the next two or three years."
The new model would probably be a bit smaller than the current Mazda 2 (pictured), and also would be more upscale with better materials are more equipment. Mazda would likely position its new subcompact to compete with new European entries like the Opel Adam, Citroën DS3, and Fiat 500 hatchbacks.
If such a model were launched in the next few years, it would likely use Mazda's new SkyActiv lightweight chassis and efficient powertrain technologies. The car would probably wear the "Kodo" design language employed on the CX-5 crossover and 6 sedan. A new Mazda subcompact would also likely be significantly more fuel efficient than the current 2 hatchback, which achieves just 29/35 mpg (city/highway) in the U.S. with a five-speed manual transmission and 27/33 mpg with a four-speed automatic.
Although Mazda sells tiny "kei" cars in Japan, it doesn't have a small entry aside from the 2. The current Mazda 2 is aging and significantly bigger than the Mini: the 2 is 8.7 inches longer 0.4 inch wider than the Cooper hatchback. The 2 was introduced to the U.S. for model-year 2011, but it had already been on sale in Japan for some time before that. In other words, it wouldn't be surprising to see Mazda develop a new subcompact aimed squarely at the European market.