Mazda has confirmed that the European version of the Demio, the 2, will be unveiled at the Paris Auto Show on 26 September.

The car, shown as a production-ready ‘concept’ at Geneva last March, will go into production at Ford’s Valencia plant in Spain at the beginning of 2003 as the first Mazda-designed model built in Europe.

Mazda had previously tried rebadging Ford’s Dagenham, UK-built Fiesta as a 121 for sale in Europe alongside the Japanese-built Demio but it was not a success, especially in the UK.

The European 2 will have minor styling and interior changes compared with the Japanese Demio models featured recently on just-auto but the biggest differences will be the Ford Europe engines under the bonnet.

These are 1.25 litre (55 kW/75 ps), 1.4 litre (59 kW/80 ps) and 1.6 litre (74 kW/100 ps) petrol engines plus the common rail 1.4-litre diesel jointly developed with Peugeot that produces 50 kW/68 ps. All engines meet the Euro4 emission standard.

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While five-speed manual gearboxes will be standard, the 1.4 litre engines, both petrol and diesel, will also be offered with optional automated shift (read ‘clutchless’) manual transmission with a fully-automatic mode ideal for heavy traffic.

European buyers, especially of small cars, generally view automatic transmission with suspicion due to a common perception it seriously blights fuel economy.

However, Mazda claims that fuel consumption with the new ASM technology is no higher than with manual transmission versions.

The European Demio will have dual-stage front airbags as standard, with side and curtain airbags optional on all models, while ABS, EBA (Emergency Brake Assist) and EBD (Electronic Brake Force Distribution System), as well as DSC (Dynamic Stability Control) will at least be optional.