Mazda should take a great deal of pride that its multi-talented new supermini ranks third in class here.

That may appear lukewarm praise, but this segment is brimming with very creditable cars – and, for us, traditional volume players like the Mazda 2 have to be ranked against premium and budget-brand options.

Great to drive and much better to own than the previous version. The Mazda 2 is frugal and pacey with it, too

So in scoring so highly, the Mazda has eclipsed the Skoda Fabia and Hyundai i20 (both new to market in the past six months), dislodged the Volkswagen Polo from its long-time podium status, banished the likes of the Renault Clio and Citroën DS3 to off-page obscurity and given a Mini One serious pause for thought.

It has done that with a combination of usability, fuel economy, quality, pace, handling prowess and value for money that makes this a much more versatile and complete car than its predecessor – yet it’s still a touchstone for enthusiast drivers.

The Mazda 2 continues to be Japan’s best effort at a classic, European supermini, but it’s now a better one than most of the Europeans.