76E Eunos 800
1 Mar 1994
MAZDA had plans to tackle Toyota’s luxury division Lexus with its Eunos premium brand.
Launched in Australia in late 1992, Eunos was going to feature four distinct model ranges – the 500 compact sports sedan and 30X sports coupe that were introduced at that time, as well as the 800 medium sedan and the luxury ‘Amati’ 1000 complete with an all-new V12.
Of course the early ‘90s recession and subsequent crippled Japanese economy sent many companies – including Mazda – down to their corporate knees. Mazda axed Eunos, killed its stillborn Amati and allowed the other models to languish.
But the Eunos 800 (Mazda dropped the Eunos badge from July ’96) was a interesting failure.
Driving the front wheels via a four-speed automatic gearbox, the 800 was offered in two V6 engine guises.
But while the base model featured a regular 125kW/215Nm DOHC 24V V6, the 800M (for Miller) introduced a special-induction Miller Cycle supercharged 2.3-litre V6 delivering 148kW and 282Nm.
The latter was promoted as an engine with the power and torque of a 3.3-litre six-cylinder engine and the economy of a 2.0-litre ‘four’ – with significant emission falls to boot.
Four-wheel steering, anti-lock brakes, dual front airbags and a traction control system were also part of the 800M package, on top of the standard 800’s driver’s airbag, climate control air-conditioning, cruise control, central locking, leather trim, powered front seats and sunroof.
But all this was not enough for Mazda to find sufficient buyers. Confusing the issue more was the almost identically sized and priced rear-wheel drive Mazda 929 sedan of the same period, which at least proved a little more popular.
In March ’98 Mazda Australia introduced 30 special edition 800M SP models, with an overt sports-sedan orientated presentation, while the 2.5 V6 800 was discontinued in October ‘98.
Minor trim changes were introduced to the 800M in March ’99.