The manufacturer is hoping to attract local authority and NHS Trust fleets, as well as driving schools, with its new Mazda2 offering.
Mazda’s national contract hire and rental manager, Steve Tomlinson, said: “Contract hire companies and outright purchase fleets have been attracted to the Mazda range in recent years by strong residuals and low wholelife costs and sporty models packed with standard equipment.
“We are bringing these same credentials to the supermini segment and we believe that will make the Mazda2 attractive to fleet operators. We believe it will become the car of choice in the sector.”
Initially available with a choice of three petrol engines, a 1.4-litre diesel will join the range in the next few months, offering 68bhp and claimed average fuel economy of 65mpg.
As well as gaining more exposure among fleets, the Mazda2 is also proving popular in showrooms, helping the Japanese manufacturer to a record run of sales in the UK.
To the end of November Mazda had sold 4,820 units, helping it to record its largest ever sales volumes in the UK.
Jeremy Thomson, sales director at Mazda UK, said: “Even before Christmas we had already exceeded our biggest ever sales year of 50,166 units set in 2006.
“Our growth has come through retail sales which were 10% higher than the same point in 2006.
“Mazda2 retail sales exceeded the Nissan Micra in November and we have very strong orders for it this year.”
Mr Thomson predicts 2008 will be another record-breaking year for Mazda in the UK, with sales likely to exceed 55,000 units.
He said: “With the old Mazda2 we were selling about 4,000 a year but in 2008 we are looking at sales of between 12,000 and 15,000 units.”
The firm will also be buoyed by the arrival of the new Mazda6 upper-medium model.
Most models went on sale on December 26 last year, but the volume models such as the diesels and estates are not due to arrive until next month.