Spied: Mazda Verisa

2008 Mazda Verisa

I packed very little while moving my girlfriend to a new apartment, but one of the few items I insisted in stowing away was my camera and a telephoto lens.; Good thing I did, as I came across this battered little Mazda Verisa near Flat Rock, Michigan.

Never heard of the Verisa?; Fear not; unless you're a JDM buff (the hatchback is sold only in Japan), there's good chance it's off your radar screen.

But here's why it shouldn't be.; First, it's stylish.; Sure, the front fascia may look a bit like Nissan's Versa, but the rest of the car is original Mazda design, drawing inspiration from the funky Secret Hideout concept from the 2001 Tokyo motor show.

Secondly, it's efficient.; Riding on the same platform as the outgoing Mazda2 and Ford Fiesta, the car runs with a 1.5-liter DOHC I-4 and a four-speed automatic transaxle as standard equipment.; That's good enough to yield a combined average fuel economy of 42.8 mpg.; And if front-wheel drive isn't enough for you, try the e-4WD model, which sends power to the rear wheels via an electronic differential.; That still returns a respectable 40 mpg combined.

So, then, will it arrive at a Mazda dealer near you?; In this form, that's unlikely, but a second-gen model, riding on the same platform as the 2010 Ford Fiesta that is coming here, could feasibly make the trip from Hiroshima.; I wouldn't, however, be surprised if Mazda kept the next-gen Verisa a Japan-only car.;

Pity.; I'd buy one - even if it doesn't go "zoom-zoom."

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