Let’s ease ourselves into the story, though, and start with 108 horsepower: the Mazda 2 leads the way.

It’s on skinny tyres and silly wheels, a bit tall and narrow, on tippy-toes all day long so as not to attract too much attention, see — it’s a bit insecure, quietly following and barely keeping up, panting but trying, resolute to earn its place in this company and break the mental block veiling over all the judges enamoured by Rosso Corsa and Vermilion Red. It’s up front, but it keeps disappearing into the background. And you know what? It’s actually happy out of the limelight — it doesn’t need to show off. If you know you know. The Mazda 2 is a fantastic car. Don’t worry little guy — you’ve more than earned your place here, leading the pack out of the Gulf News compound before the sun’s even bothered, followed orderly in single file by snarling Jags, BMWs, AMGs and hissing Ferraris impatient in the confines of a convoy. But they won’t dare pass you little Mazda 2.

That’s one of the rules — no passing… The other rules are never switch a car off (because we’re swapping constantly and jumping in and out of different vehicles at every stopover), never take the keys out of the car (because someone is going to go on a hike for a number one and disappear with a set of keys needed for a quick shoot), and this one might seem obvious but you’d be surprised: when moving in convoy always make sure you stick close (safely) to the car in front.

We should have a reason to ignore the Mazda 2 — small cars are rubbish. They are disposable appliances, mass-produced conveniences. It wasn’t always like that, but in today’s world that gorges on 80 million cars a year, the mass-volume segment such as the compact car is as soulless as the buyer. Let’s face it, people don’t seem to care. Most will happily buy a brand-new supermini with a four-speed auto and the personality of a mannequin. The easy way to make money in this market sector seems to be make it sensible, make it boring, count the profits.

But a small car company from Hiroshima has had enough — and that’s the whole point of the Mazda 2 even being here, it’s a tiny compact that has broken the mould, and infused excitement and fun into the world of superminis. The Mazda 2 is not boring, it is well designed, very well equipped, thoughtfully put together inside and out with details that stand out all over the place, and most of all it’s a hoot to drive.

“They’ve bounced back from total obscurity, if we’re being honest,” says Sony. “It’s lighter and stiffer than any of its rivals, and if it wasn’t for the automatic I’d call this a genuine hot hatch — remember that 30 years ago a Golf GTI weighed close to a tonne and made just over 100 horsepower…” Nobody remembers asking for more back then.

Mazda can give us hope that its ‘fun first’ mantra might influence some rivals, which have long since lost their way. Mazda is the new Honda…