The Mazda 323 is a front-engined, front-wheel drive vehicle that was originally available as either a compact sedan or a hatchback, but the second generation from 1990-1994 was only offered as a two-door with a hatch. The lightweight nature of the car, paired with the relatively small four-cylinder engine, helps the Mazda 323 be incredibly fuel-efficient. Cargo space inside is limited, and the back seat will not accommodate an adult very comfortably. For cheap and reliable transportation, however, the vehicle is still a popular choice among used car shoppers.
A 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine is the standard power plant found in most Mazda 323 models, although the GT and GTX models offered throughout the years did have turbos installed that provided a boost of about 20 horsepower to the meager 82 horses. The Mazda 323 was designed and built in the United States, and the developers spent a significant amount of time figuring out how to compete with the Japanese imports that were growing in popularity. The first generation model came in a four-door sedan that could presumably seat 5 passengers, but the second generation model only came in a hatchback configuration with a limited back seating area.
The Mazda 323 was first released in 1986, but the actual launch of the model took place in 1988, when the GT sedan was introduced. The Mazda 323 GT had a turbocharged engine that offered over 130 horsepower, and a manual five-speed transmission made it possible to take advantage of the power available. The sedan, however, was not as warmly welcomed as anticipated and was discontinued after the first year. The second generation Mazda 323, which was released in 1990, proved to be an economical vehicle that was both reliable and inexpensive.
While the Mazda 323 was often the cheapest model in the lineup, a number of options were still available that allowed a driver to select their desired niceties. Some sedans had a sunroof and cruise control, and all of the Mazda 323s had a stereo system, air conditioning, and power steering as an option. Although the Mazda 323 GT was an impressive vehicle in 1988 when it was released, many consumers choose the vehicle because of its fuel efficiency and strong reliability rating.
The Mazda 323 offered consumers the chance to choose a reliable American vehicle as opposed to the newly imported Japanese vehicles in the late 1980's. Buyers today still opt to purchase a Mazda 323 because of the reliability ratings and overall cost of maintenance. While most small cars have a challenge with the crash testing mandated by the government, the hatchback and sedan models have always faired very well and scored highly
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