Mazda’s new Demio which, as the 2, has had some good advance press in export markets like the UK and Australia, went on sale in its home market on Thursday.

It is being sold through Mazda, Mazda Anfini and Mazda Autozam dealers throughout Japan and target sales volume is 5,000 units a month. Prices range from 1,125,000 to 1,580,000 yen ($US9,200-13,000).

The first generation Demio replaced the 121 in August 1996 and Japanese production volume is now over 1,040,000 units and the model Mazda’s biggest selling line in the Japanese market.

Japanese cars are – so far – the only ones to get  the option of Mazda’s newly developed, naturally aspirated MZR 1.3L Miller-cycle engine with continuously variable transmission (CVT) to achieve top class 10-15 mode fuel efficiency of 23.0 km/L (rated by Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport). This is approximately 20% better than the equivalent previous model.

Conventional 1.3- and 1.5-litre petrol engines are also offered and most will have automatic transmission (also CVT) as preferred in Japan.

Mazda’s president and CEO, Hisakazu Imaki, said: “The all-new Mazda Demio is a core global model and it is intended to accelerate our progress toward achieving the objectives set out in the Mazda advancement plan, our new mid-term plan announced in March of this year.”

“We will continue to drive our business forward through product-led growth and, at the same time, enhance our efforts to develop environmental and safety technologies to help realise a sustainable future.”

Japanese market cars with fully automatic air conditioner have a particulate filter to aid hay fever sufferers, a light-catalysed deodoriser in the cabin ceiling and non-absorbent fabric on the seats to counter spillages.

The Demio is the first Mazda with a CVT automatic transmission and electric power-assisted steering built into the steering column.

UK-specification 2 models announced earlier this week will have the 1.3 petrol engine in two stages of tune, the 1.5 and, later, a 1.4 turbodiesel and three trim levels.

Assembly has been switched back to Japan after the previous generation was built at a Ford plant in Spain.

Australia will get Japanese-built 1.5-litre models, according to local reports.