The Mazda 2 has beaten off competition from the Ford Mondeo and the Mercedes-Benz C-class to be crowned World Car of the Year.
Thirty-nine new vehicles from all over the globe battled it out for the 2008 award, which was announced at the New York International Auto Show.
The World Car of the Year is chosen by a secret ballot of almost 50 motoring journalists from all over the world.
As well as taking the overall crown, the Mazda 2 supermini was a finalist in the top design category – alongside the Audi R8 and Volvo C30.
Which? Car Editor Richard Headland said: ‘We’re impressed with the new Mazda 2 – it’s good value, cheap to run and fun to drive – what more can you ask of a modern supermini?
‘It also scored five stars in Euro NCAP crash tests and Mazda’s reliability record in our market-leading Which? Car survey is excellent. It looks a worthy winner.’
The Mazda 2 first went on sale in 2003 and a second generation model was introduced in Japan in July 2007.
Mazda spokesman Dan Morris said: ‘The all-new Mazda 2 is exceeding our highest expectations, demonstrating it can compete and win against the best sub-compact cars in any market in the world.’
For the latest car news and reviews, sign up to receive our new Which? Car email. The email launches on 28 March.