I bought one of these recently, and it had very low kilometres on the clock. It’s a great-looking car for its era, and I dare say an SP model in good condition may well attract decent money in a few years.
Japan was at the height of its economic bubble when this car was developed, and as such Mazda made a stunning-looking, high-quality hatch for its time. Like the top line Mazda3 Astina today, it gives small German cars a run for their money, and comes with the bonus of Japanese reliability.
The pop-up headlights are a cool addition, although makes it difficult if you want to flash someone!
Inside is much nicer than equivalent Toyota’s or Holden’s from a similar era. The regular Astina came with a sporty 3-spoke steering wheel, air con, power mirrors, central locking, power steering and tachometer.
The liftback is fantastic, and folding the rear seats down makes it a very practical car. Rear legroom is good, and seating in the front is also comfortable – low and sporty for a small car.
Unfortunately mine was an automatic, and while it was perfectly adequate around town, at higher speeds the 1.8-litre four was left wanting. A manual gearbox would have helped this greatly.
Fuel efficiency is excellent around town, as you might hope, but again a manual would be ideal.
It’s a great car to drive, with sharp and accurate steering. It’s low and sits very flat in corners, yet the 14-inch wheels mean it’s not an uncomfortable car to be in.
The BG Mazda 323 Astina harps back to an era when Japan was dominating the world. With cars like the RX-7, the Honda NSX, the R32 Skyline and the Toyota Supra it’s a great period for Japanese cars.
Even in more regular cars like the Honda Prelude, and the N14 Nissan Pulsar, it was clear that Japan was a cut above. Later in the 1990s and going into the early 2000s, Japanese carmakers went back into their shells. Mazda was the first to bring back style and quality to their products, and it shows in the sales results. Others like Honda and Nissan are still struggling to get back to this era.