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Mazda in a numbers conundrum

Mazda’s new mid-sized MPV, which is due in UK showrooms by autumn next year, remains a car without a name or a number.

The five-door compact people carrier, called Flexa in concept car form and codenamed J48J, was due to be badged 4 but Hiroshima company headquarters withdrew the title because of the number’s association with death and doom in Asia Pacific markets.

Mazda UK’s managing director, Phil Waring, has confirmed that 5, 7 or 8 are under consideration and has commissioned marketing research to see if customers would confuse the new car with the MX-5, the former RX-7 and current RX-8 sporting models.

Asked if Mazda might opt for a name, and break the sequence of model numbers, Jeremy Thomson, marketing director, says: “I think it will be a number fitting into our sequence of graduated models. The new vehicle is fundamentally different from the MX or RX series. There will be no confusion and logically it will be a global decision.”

One option which Mazda’s international management is likely to consider involves calling the MPV, with its variable five, six or seven-seater format, the 3 Flexa along the lines of Toyota’s Verso variants.

Mazda is hoping UK retailers will have no difficulty selling 5,000 compact MPVs in a full year, compared with the peak of combined annual Premacy and the larger MPV model’s sales of 3,500 units.

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