The new Mazda 2, based on the Hazumi concept unveiled at the show, will go into production late this year as Mazda completes its cycle of model renewal.

Jeff Guyton, head of Mazda Europe, points out that while small cars tend to be the best sellers for most manufacturers, that’s not the case with Mazda.

The 6 has historically been the best-seller in Europe while orders for the CX-5 crossover are as strong today as they were when it was first launched.

“We’re generally stronger in larger cars which makes us more profitable,” he said. The 6 has a 6% share of its segment in Europe, well ahead of the 1.2% overall share Mazda has.

But the 2 will be important, especially in the UK, which has been its biggest market in Europe.

“It’s really important for our dealer network to have a high volume car which is also the entry model to the brand for most customers,” said Guyton.

Technical alliances will be the way forward for Mazda as it moves from selling 1.3m cars a year to 1.7m by 2016. Mazda already partners with Toyota for hybrid powertrains in Japan where more than half the sales are hybrids but he ruled out selling hybrids in Europe where the focus will be on diesels.

“How many powertrains do I need to offer with a two per cent market share?”

Mazda’s new 230,000 unit plant in Mexico, already building the 3 for NAFTA markets, will start on the 2 later this year and is also contracted to build 50,000 a year of a derivative for Toyota’s NAFTA markets.

Next month, Mazda will start to talk about the new MX-5, the sports car that will also be sold as an Alfa Romeo [that may change according to reports this week – ed]. Partnering with Fiat has “created more scale which allows the whole project to be better by spending more money on it. Having slightly more volume improves the breed and will create more wattage around the communications,” said Guyton.

He expects industry sales to pick up this year across the region, noting that total industry volume in Spain was up a surprising 17% last month. While that is probably not sustainable, it is certainly a move in the right direction, he said.