Mazda has decided to sell its entry-level 2 in the US and Canada from late next year, the Ford affiliate announced on Friday.

The model, Mazda’s range starter in most markets outside Japan (where it is sold as the Demio), will compete with the likes of the Honda Fit (Jazz) and Toyota Yaris and will also face up to the European designed, Mexican-built Ford Fiesta scheduled for US launch next year.

Toyota showed some caution when launching the current Yaris in hatchback form (there is also a sedan) in North America – the five-door version initially was restricted to Canada with the US getting just the three-door.

Mazda North American Operations’ president and CEO, Jim O’Sullivan told a dealer meeting in the US: “You’ve asked us for it for a while now, and we’ve been studying the market to make sure we can make a business case for it across North America.

“As consumers’ tastes and attitudes toward small vehicles have changed, we now believe strongly there is a place in our lineup for a car below our current least-expensive car, the 3.”

The 3, seen mostly on Canadian roads in sedan form, has been particularly successful there. US consumer publications also rate the 3 highly, particuarly the sporty MPS version,

Mazda said it would not release any more details for now but confirmed the US-specification 2 would make its public debut at the Los Angeles motor show which opens to the media on 2 December.

A previous generation 2 was built for Europe in in Spain alongside Ford models which shared the basic architecture. Production shifted from Ford to Mazda in Japan when the latest generation was introduced for 2008.