There’s a new Mazda 2 heading to Europe, and it looks awfully familiar.
Our spy photography agency snapped this car tootling around the parking lot of a Mazda facility in Europe.
It’s very clearly a Toyota Yaris, but with its front and rear badges covered up.
Mazda’s winged logo is clearly visible beneath the tape on the tailgate, and just visible up front.
There doesn’t appear to be any styling differences between the Mazda 2 and the Toyota Yaris.
The existence of this car isn’t a huge surprise – although the lack of design differentiation might be. Mazda stated at its last financial presentation it will launch an “OEM-supplied model based on Yaris THS [Toyota Hybrid System]” in Europe within the next two years.
With the small-volume MX-30 as its sole eco-friendly model, Mazda is unable to meet the EU’s stringent 95g/km CO2 target without pooling its average new car emissions with Toyota.
Rebadging the France-built Toyota Yaris Hybrid will not only bring down Mazda’s CO2 figure, but also give it a more price-competitive model that’s made in EU.
The last time Mazda offered a badge-engineered model in Europe was with the 121 sold there between 1996 to 2002.
Basically a fourth-generation Ford Fiesta with a different grille, the Euro 121 replaced the jellybean sedan that was popular in Australia, but less so on the Continent.
This isn’t the first time a hybrid Toyota model has been rebadged by an brand in which Toyota owns a minority stake.
The RAV4 Hybrid is sold as the Suzuki Across, while the hybrid Corolla wagon is rebadged as the Suzuki Swace.
While the Swace and Corolla differ only in their badges, the Across has a different front end design – including new headlights, bumpers and grille – borrowed from the China-market Toyota Wildlander.
Trivia fans will also note the new Toyota Yaris/Mazda 2 pairing flips the narrative that was in play across the US and Canada over the past few years.
There, the Mexico-built Mazda 2 was sold exclusively by Toyota. Firstly as the Scion iA, and then when the Scion brand was axed, as the Toyota Yaris iA.
The iA suffix was dropped as part of a mid-life update. Poor sales lead to the Mazda-based Yaris being axed in 2020.
A lot of the blame was placed on the popularity of crossovers, as well as the shrinking market in the States for cars in the “sub-compact” segment. The polarising gaping-mouth grille affixed exclusively to the Yaris probably didn’t help.