Mazda has launched the Demio in Colombia, assembled in Bogotá, but with poor sales results, according to a just-auto.com correspondent in the country.

The car is the old shape Demio also marketed as the 121; not the current Demio sold as the Mazda 2 outside Japan. Potential Colombian buyers apparently perceive the body style as too old, and reminiscent of the old Kia Festiva wagon. (Before Hyundai took over Kia its cars were largely based on Mazda designs in the same way earlier Hyundais were based on Mitsubishi designs and/or technology.)

This is a difficult time for the Colombian assembler which had hoped this new car would replace the long-serving 323, now replaced in most other markets by the redesigned 3.

Market reaction has hurt, too: rival importer Hyundai has now overtaken Mazda in sales and is the third best-selling brand by volume for the year to date.

Hyundai affiliate Kia, meanwhile, has lauched the small subcompact Picanto in 1.1-litre form to compete with the Chevrolet (Opel) Corsa 1.4 and Renault Twingo 1.3. Kia has also recently launched the larger Cerato.

Ford has recently launched a local variation of the Fiesta with 1.1-litre supercharged engine and the Ford Brazil-designed, Fiesta-based EcoSport SUV, both assembled in Venezuela.

The small-engine-plus-blower trick for the Fiesta is due to nearby Brazil's 'popular car' programme which offers tax breaks to makers who sell low priced one-litre cars intended to appeal to buyers on relatively low incomes wanting to acquire a brand-new car.

As a result, Brazilian car makers have become adept at using turbochargers or superchargers to squeeze as much power as possible out of their one-litre engines. Such cars also find a ready market in Venezuela, where many Brazilian-built cars are sold; Venezuelan assemblers in turn also ship vehicles to Brazil.

Due to a revaluation of the Colombian peso in relation to the US dollar, importers have recently lowered car prices about 15%, leading to both market share and sales increases.