1 Oct 1980
Mazda bet the farm on the crisply styled, Japanese built, 2nd-generation 323, which was the company’s real response to the trend-setting Golf.
Everything was new, from the larger 3-door hatchback, 4-door sedan and 5-door hatchback body styles, front-wheel drive platform, 48kW 1.3L and 54kW 1.5L 4-cylinder engines, and 3-speed auto, 4-speed manual and 5-speed manual transaxles, independent rear suspension and rack and pinion steering, to the bigger, roomier, more refined interiors.
Impressive power, economy, handling, ride and space utilisation led to widespread acclaim and success.
However the station wagon was a carryover of the old model, and continued on with a more modern nose cone and an updated 323 engine (1.5L from Jan ’82) until December ‘85.
The model range was now Special 1.3 3-door hatch, Deluxe 1.5 5-door hatch and sedan, Super Deluxe 1.5 5-door hatch and sedan, and SS 3-door hatch.
And since the award winning 323 Mk2 was also co-developed by major shareholder Ford, there were also the highly successful – although locally made - Ford Laser/Meteor variants.