Car reviews - Mazda - 626 - range
Roomy, reliable, comfortable, nice to drive
Room for improvement
Parts can be expensive
18 Jun 2003
THE Mazda 626 was introduced to Australia in 1979, in rear-drive form. The first front-drive model appeared in 1983 and since then has developed enormously in sophistication and technology.
The 626 has always been one of the leaders in the highly competitive mid-size family car market. The 1990 Mazda 626 four- door sedan is a much sought after model, very well equipped and has a high retained value.
The same vehicle, with some mechanical and styling differences, was also sold at various times as the Ford Telstar. But there was no Ford equivalent to the Mazda four-door sedan sold between 1988 and 1991.
Mechanical layout of the 626 is "modern conventional" with a transverse four-cylinder engine and gearbox driving the front wheels. The 2.2-litre engine has a single overhead camshaft operating three valves per cylinder (two inlet, one exhaust) and electronic fuel-injection. It delivers 84kW at 4700rpm and torque is a strong 179Nm at 3000rpm.
Transmission choices are a five-speed manual or four-speed electronic automatic that features a choice of power or economy modes, with a "hold" facility that locks the car in a chosen gear - a useful feature when driving on winding roads or on long, steep descents.
Suspension is independent all round by MacPherson struts with coil springs.
Four-wheel disc brakes are standard, ventilated at the front, and the steering is power-assisted rack and pinion with a turning circle of 10.8 metres.
The Mazda 626 is well appointed with almost every extra one could expect. Alloy wheels were introduced as standard in May, 1990, completing a comprehensive equipment list.
In May, 1990, Mazda released a special "added value" model to the 626 range - the Eclipse - which had distinctive body styling. Cruise control and a high grade audio system were included.
On the road, the excellent torque of the engine makes the car easy to drive. There is some harshness evident over 4500rpm but it is rarely necessary to take the revs this high.
The 626 handles well with the initial understeer that is characteristic of front-wheel drive cars. Pushed hard on twisty roads there is a slight tendency for the rear of the car to move around.
The ride is soft and comfortable.
Interior noise level is low and the dash is clearly laid out with easy to read instruments. A tachometer is standard and a warning lamp flashes when the windscreen washer fluid is low.
Interior room is quite reasonable although three full-size adults in the back seat is a bit squeezy. Rear legroom is also limited if the front seat is on its rearmost adjustment.
Apart from some reports of early corrosion of exhaust system parts - that may be due to conditions of usage - there are no service problems with the 626.
The Mazda 626 is a comprehensively equipped family car with excellent performance and comfort.
It is a reliable, well developed package and will retain its good resale value. It is an excellent choice in this competitive market segment.
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