On Thursday, Mazda launched the its slightly remodeled Demio (aka the Mazda2 in this neck of the wood) subcompact in Japan. The facelifted Demio is the first vehicle to get Mazda's fuel-saving 1.3-liter SkyActiv gasoline engine.
The Demio, which starts at 1.15 million yen ($14,240 U.S. at the current exchange rate), returns the equivalent of 58.8 miles per gallon on Japan's JC08 evaluation cycle. That, according to Mazda chief executive officer, Takashi Yamanouchit, is equal to the fuel economy rating of the Honda Fit Hybrid subcompact, priced from 1.59 million yen ($19,776 U.S.). The company had promised the Demio would undercut hybrid rivals in the same segment.
Mazda says that since opening its order books on June 9th, 6,500 orders have been logged for the fuel-frugal Demio hatchback, equivalent to 108 percent of the monthly sales target of 6,000 units. This is the first step in Mazda's plan to improve its fleet fuel economy some 30 percent by 2015, compared with 2008 levels, and eventually equip all of its vehicles with SkyActiv engines and transmissions by 2016.