Allow me to paraphrase. We're in the middle of a motor-industry press conference and the presentation goes something like this: the climate is going crazy, the New Zealand Government is set to crack down on big cars big time, and if you don't drive something small and hatchbacky - well, you'll soon be forced to.
Must be at the launch of a new supermini, then. In this case, it's the all-new Mazda2. With an important new small car to pitch, Mazda is going on the max-attack on the pros of downsizing your car and uprating your green credentials.
According to Mazda New Zealand boss Andrew Clearwater, forthcoming legislation such as sales-weighted fuel consumption targets, compulsory effi- ciency labelling on vehi- cles, and the wider dissemination of economy information will drive more and more buyers away from large vehi- cles and into the arms of thrifty super-minis and small cars.
"Just what shape the final legislation will take is currently under discussion, but it is likely larger cars with higher C02 emissions will carry significant penalties that could flow through to retail price," says Clearwater.
Clearly, we're not there yet. While small cars account for 40 per cent of new vehicle sales in NZ so far this year, the Holden Commodore remains number one by quite some margin and the Ford Falcon - essentially on run-out with a new model due next year - is still popping onto the podium on a regular basis.
Even in Mazda-world, which consists exclusively of four-cylinder cars, the new 2 and Mazda3 are still only expected to account for 40 per cent of sales this year. Larger, more thirsty vehicles such as the Mazda6 (still top in its class), the CX-7 and BT-50 ute account for most registrations.
But if you're one of the minority currently thinking small, the Mazda2 looks like an appealing way to do it. It's based on the Mazda-Ford platform that will also underpin the next-generation Fiesta and comes with impressive price/equipment credentials. Looks cool, too.
Mazda makes much of the fact that the latest Mazda2 is smaller and lighter than the car it replaces. All credit must go to the company's styling and packaging efforts, although it must be noted that the previous car was a bit of a fatty by class standards.
At 1001kg, the new entry Mazda2 is 145mm longer and just 50kg lighter than the base Toyota Yaris five-door. So the Mazda is a convincing effort, but not ground-breaking. There's just one engine - a modified version of the 1.5-litre mill from the previous car. And the prices are good news. The Mazda2 opens at $20,900, with a $1400 premium for a four-speed auto transmission. All models have six airbags and an MP3-compatible CD player.
That base car is line-ball with Suzuki's phenomenally successful Swift Limited, which is the same overall length, a snip heavier at 1050kg and similarly equipped.
Step up to the Mazda2 Sport for $23,100 and you gain a subtle body kit, larger alloy wheels and a stability control system. But no extra grunt - under the bonnet, it's the same as the entry model. First impressions suggest a car built down to a price, but still built with flair. The engine is nothing special and the steering lacks feel, but the chassis is truly nimble. It's good-looking and good fun to drive.
The interior suffers from the fate of all sub-$25k cars: it's made from cheap, hard plastics. But design-wise it's superb and Mazda has liberated an astonishing amount of rear-seat space for such a small car. On the minus side, the tumble-folding action of the rear seats from the old model has been lost in the new. Instead, you get folding seatbacks but no flat load-through.
If you're looking to feel smug by driving something small and smart, the Mazda2 offers enough entertainment amid the sensible stuff to be a contender for your cash. And yes, the new 2 comes in colours other than the green seen here.