1 Oct 1989
If the Mk3 323s were disadvantaged by their dull styling, then Mazda missed making the same mistake twice with the radical 4th-generation 323 of late 1989.
Bold, crisp, styling, much stronger bodies, and big improvements in handling, ride and refinement reflected the huge strides the model made.
A modern, glassy 4-door sedan continued the traditional 323 styling theme, but the swoopy Astina 5-door hatchback shared no exterior panels with it, and looked more like a 4-door coupe, aided by its low bonnet line, pop-up headlights and integrated rear spoiler.
All engines were now 16-valve designs for improved efficiency, starting with a 64kW 1.6L carburettor 4-cylinder engine (323 base sedan), and rising to two 1.8L EFI variants – an 84kW single-cam unit found in better equipped 323 sedans and the base Astina, and a 92kW twin-cam powerplant reserved for the popular luxury/sport SP Astina.
By now all 323s featured power steering, cloth trim and central locking as standard. In mid-’91 a new grille and wheel trims were added.