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The news that the new Mazda2 has won World Car of the Year and South African Car of the Year did not come as a surprise to many, including me.
From the moment I laid eyes on this bundle of dynamite I knew that the Japanese had created the real thing.
Any way you look at the Mazda2, it was going to be what most first-time car buyers need it's even better as a second car.
It is not by mistake that it has won both these major awards.
The Mazda2 has passed vigorous testing. As an entry-level car, the Mazda2 is equipped with features that can match most cars in the C-segment.
The Japanese manufacturers have realised the importance of a well-equipped small car.
A day after Mazda2 won the South African Car of the Year award (SACOTY), the news broke that it had also won World Car of the Year (WCOTY).
Celebrations carried on and on at Mazda headquarters in Pretoria.
The awards are confirmation that Mazda is no longer a small brand to be glossed over by the Germans and Americans.
It has, over the past few years, become a world-class brand.
Mazda was the only manufacturer to feature two finalists in this year's competition with the Mazda5 2,0 Active nominated alongside the Mazda2 1,5 Individual.
"To say we are delighted is an understatement," said Hal Feder, president and chief executive of Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa.
According to Feder, the Mazda2 has been well received by consumers and the media. Since its launch, more than 4000 South Africans have enjoyed the thrill of driving a Mazda2.
"Competition was tough among this year's nine finalists, so we are very proud to see Mazda take this award for the first time ever in South Africa," said Feder.
From an initial entry list of 39 new vehicles from all over the world, the overall 2008 WCOTY title was scooped by the Japanese.
The Mazda2, known as the Mazda Demio in Japan, edged out the Ford Mondeo and Mercedes-Benz C-Class to take the overall award.
The Mazda2 features impressive safety standards and was recently awarded a 5-star Euro NCAP rating. Dual front, side and curtain airbags come standard in the Mazda2 1,5 Individual. Passive safety is enhanced with the Mazda Advanced Impact Distribution and Absorption System while all three rear passenger seats are equipped with three-point seat belts.
Braking is enhanced with a four-wheel antilock braking system with electronic brake-force distribution.
The Mazda2 1,5 Individual comes standard with air-conditioning and a six-disc CD changer with MP3 capabilities and audio controls on the steering wheel.
At R166400, this is a perfect package.