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Car reviews - Mazda - 323 - 4-dr sedan


18 Nov 1989

LONG-LIVED but not long in the tooth, the quality BG 323 sedan from 1989 to 1996 lasted a couple of years beyond the more faddish Astina hatchback models as Mazda's entry-level small car against the increasingly popular Hyundai Lantra and Nissan Pulsar sedans. A thoroughly conventional but well-executed front-wheel drive three-box four-door design, the BG 323 1.6 sedan offered no-nonsense econony car motoring from its well-proven 64kW 1.6-litre single-cam 16-valve four-cylinder engine tied to a three-speed automatic or five-speed manual gearbox. The more-luxurious 323 1.8 sedan, meanwhile, was replaced in 1994 by the next-generation BA 323 Protege 1.6 (fitted with a 80kW 1.6 twin-cam engine) and 1.8. This meant that Mazda - by now drowning in a sea of debt-laden red ink as a result of over-extending its model range portfolio - was offering three differently shaped 323 sedans at once - BG 1.6, BA Protege 1.6 and 1.8, and BA Astina Hardtop 1.8 - the latter being a swoopy four-door coupe-like sedan offered with a 2.0-litre V6 engine. Confused? The public sure were...

The Road to Recovery podcast series

Model release date: 1 October 1989 to 1 May 1996

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