Mazda’s plans to call its new MPV (minivan) the 4 worldwide are being revised after the company discovered the number is associated with death and doom in the Asia Pacific region.

As a result the flexible format people carrier, which will offer five, six of seven seats, is still a car without a name, or number.

Mazda UK managing director Phil Waring, anticipating 5,000 local sales a year for the new model, said: “Naming, or numbering, the car is very important and we need a decision by the end of the year because it goes on sale next September.”

The British subsidiary is wondering why its Japanese parent company told European importers only last week about the superstition surrounding the number ‘4’ in Asia.

Waring has commissioned “urgent market research” in the UK to see if the public would accept 5 or 7 as a substitute, without confusing the badging ‘Mazda5’ or ‘Mazda7’ with the current MX-5 roadster or discontinued RX-7 sports car.

The number 4 was, quite logically, nominated because it fitted into the current sequential range naming used outside Japan – 2, 3 and 6.