The new Mazda 2, due in European showrooms next autumn, is intended to have a softer, more feminine appeal than today’s car.

Mazda Europe design chief Peter Birtwhistle said: “The car is much more profitable in Asia than it is in Europe and has therefore been designed to appeal to a predominantly feminine customer base.

“It’s prevented us from putting too much visual muscle into the styling, for fear of scaring people off,” he said. “But it’s a good-looking car, and I’m happy with the result.”

The new 2 is also set to spawn a compact SUV, a model that is new to Mazda’s line-up.