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Mazda 2 wins Japan Car of Year Award

by Ben Hsu

The Demio, soon to be sold in the US as the Mazda 2, marks the company\'s fifth win.

The Mazda Demio, soon to arrive on US shores as the next-generation Mazda 2, has won the Japan Car of the Year award.

The selection committee, comprised primarily of members of the Japanese automotive press, awarded the Demio 423 votes, citing its affordability, strong design and fuel-efficient technology. The addition of a 103-horsepower, 71 mpg 1.5L SkyActiv-D turbodiesel engine option won points for fuel economy, while the continued presence of a manual transmission and good handling garnered it fun-to-drive accolades. The COTY committee summed up the Demio as "a compact car filled with charm and the ability to appeal to the global markets."

The Demio narrowly beat out the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, which picked up 404 votes and won the Import Car of the Year award. The BMW i3 came in third with 290 votes, simultaneously winning the Innovation Award. Other finalists included the Honda N-WGN kei car, Subaru Levorg, Nissan Skyline (sold in the US as the Infiniti Q50), Suzuki Hustler, Toyota Voxy, Peugeot 308, and the Jeep Cherokee, the first American car to be nominated in the award's 34-year history.

This is the fifth win for Mazda, which last won in 2012 for the CX-5. The 2005 MX-5, 1982 Capella (sold in the US as the 626), and 1980 Familia (323) have also taken home the honor.

The Toyota FCV received a special recognition award for its hydrogen fuel cell technology.

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