In the October 2007 edition we referred to the Mazda2 as a Super Little Zoomer, which was a slight Mickey-take on their Super Little Model advertising campaign.
However after spending a week behind the wheel of the Blue Sport automatic pictured here it's now our favourite small Japanese hatchback. A new generation Honda Jazz is due in early 2008, but it may not be enough to knock the Mazda2 off its pedestal in the eyes of the writer.
The Mazda2 takes Japanese design and technology to a new level in the small car market. Which will no doubt be as attractive to fleet buyers as well as private ones. This car is no longer a boring economic shopping basket but rather a refined competitor for the Peugeot 207, Fiat Punto, Toyota Yaris and Volkswagen Polo.
Styled by Ikuo Maeda to be discernibly Mazda in style, the Mazda2 has a look that is more internationally flavoured and wouldn't look out of place in Europe or Asia. Indeed our Mazda2 on test was mistaken by a passer-by for a Peugeot 207.
Ironically in an age where cars seem to get heavier with each new generation, Mazda can claim some kudos for making the all-new Mazda2 some 100 kilograms lighter than its predecessor without sacrificing active or passive safety or the driving dynamics that the brand prides itself upon.
Dynamic Stability Control is offered as a standard fit on both the manual and automatic Mazda2 Sport models. You can turn this off if required in snowy conditions when a little wheel spin is needed to get traction, but most people will have the sense to leave it on permanently in normal urban operation.
Thankfully Mazda has not gone down the CVT route like Mitsubishi and Honda; the four-speed automatic gearbox is smooth and precise making the most of the performance from the 1.5 litre engine, although there's no tiptronic manual override.
Mazda expect that the sales split between transmissions will be 25 percent manual and 75 percent automatic, as per the previous Mazda2.
Indeed the new Mazda2 is the perfect city commuter, it's great to park, and easy to manoeuvre yet it doesn't feel like a small car on the inside. The seats are very comfortable and you can get four Kiwi-sized blokes in without needing a crowbar.
Rear seat passengers will find legroom is adequate but the sloping design means headroom is somewhat claustrophobic for taller people.
Interior features include a 500ml bottle holder in each of the front doors and a space for an A4 Atlas, while the centre console has an AUX jack to plug your iPod or MP3 device into, and a decent sized storage tray. The Sport enjoys a six-stack CD stereo with steering wheel mounted audio controls.
There's a lot to like about the Mazda2 Sport and nothing to grumble about. The Sport model in particular is a funky little number to look at, distinguished from the Classic by the body kit with integrated fog lamps and 16-inch alloy wheels.