An average of 58% of 11,000 people surveyed across Europe believe there is "a lot of innovation and improvement still to come with petrol and diesel engines", according to a Mazda poll.

The automaker currently offers no electrified vehicles on the continent though it has previously, using borrowed technology, offered a hybrid in other markets. Some of its latest models are fitted with energy recovery devices.

The vote in favour of ICEs was 65% in Poland and "more than" 60% in Germany, Spain and Sweden.

"The results demonstrate that consumers don't necessarily share the view of many organisations that the internal combustion engine has no role to play in the future of cars," said Mazda which has shunned electrification and twin clutch transmissions in favour of extracting as much fuel and emissions efficiency as possible from its so-called Skyactiv ICEs, torque converter conventional automatics and body structures.

Last year, it unveiled the Skyactiv-X, claimed to be the world's first commercial petrol engine to use compression ignition (though it retains spark plugs).

The survey found 31% of drivers "hope that diesel cars will continue to exist" as electric cars become more common with the figure rising to 58% in Poland; an average 33% of drivers stated that if running costs were the same as an electric car they would "prefer a petrol/diesel car" – in Italy 54% thought that.

Despite the gathering momentum behind autonomous vehicles, only 33% of drivers "welcome the advent of self-driving cars" with the number dropping to 25% in France and the Netherlands.

There was virtually no evidence of greater support for self driving cars in younger age groups across Europe.

Mazda Motor Europe president and CEO Jeff Guyton said: "The research findings are fascinating. It appears European drivers see a long road ahead for the internal combustion engine."

"In the case of greenhouse gas emissions, we believe it's necessary to have the right solution at the right time.  For us this means taking a well-to-wheel view, and therefore today's most rational offering is a combination of internal combustion engines and electric devices which consider each market's energy situation and power generation methods. In this context, we are determined to perfect the internal combustion engine."

Mazda thinks driving is "a skill that people want to keep".

"It is an activity that can be fun as well as functional and many would like to see this skill retained for future generations."

An average of 69% of drivers surveyed "hope that future generations will continue to have the option to drive cars".