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New supermini next to help give boost to Mazda's sales

Mazda sales in Europe - up 25% between 2012 and 2013 - are about to be boosted later this year by the arrival of a new supermini to replace the current Mazda 2.

"Let's put it this way - I'm a lot better now than I was if you'd caught me 12 months ago, when I might have been weeping," said Mazda Europe's chief operating officer Phil Waring.

With last year's supply shortages now a thing of the past and some signs of an economic upturn in Europe, Waring feels there are now reasons to be cheerful, especially with the latest Mazda 6 and 3 models getting off to such a good start.

"I'm anticipating that over the next 12 months we will be up by 5% to 10%," he said.

The HAZUMI concept at Geneva (it means "spring up") is a stylish pointer to how the replacement Mazda 2 might look.

"It's a concept for a B-segment car, or a sub-compact as they like to call them in Europe, and that is an area of the market worth 3.5 million cars a year," said Waring.

"Although I'm not at liberty to say whether this is similar to a car we might produce, the dimensions fit the middle of the segment and it reflects our view of an ideal car in that segment and, subject to production constraints, what it might look like."

That would leave the MX-5 as the oldest car in Mazda's line-up, and it is an open secret that the Japanese company and Alfa Romeo are collaborating on a shared replacement.

"You will get more information in due course, but it's fair to say that the project has gone past the drawing stage. The new car will focus on the core attributes of the current vehicle - light weight, affordability and fun to drive," said Waring.

"We will share a chassis, which is our responsibility, and we will each have our own design language, engines and brand philosophy."

Waring says Mazda is now "an aspirational brand reflecting the lifestyle of its customers." He added: "They place a value on what they buy and are prepared to reflect that in what they buy."

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