Mazda 323 LX 1.3L
Price $13,400 (El Salvador)
Engine type: SOHC 16 valve inline-4
Displacement: 1.3L (1324cc)
Power: 75 bhp
Torque: 80 lb.-ft.
Redline: 6000 rpm
Transmission: 5 speed manual
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0-60: 12.3 sec
0-100: 76.8 sec
1/4 mile: 18.7 sec @ 76 mph
Top Speed: 101 mph
One of the reasons I didn't want to put my Civic in this site was that it would be the slowest car in the website. Luckily there was a Chrisler PT Cruiser there that was slightly slower. Then this new Mazda shows up in my garage. So, being the slowest isn't really that bad. There are other things to like about this car. First of all, is the gas sippin' nature of it's engine. It goes about it's duty with the minimal amount of gas you could think of. This is especially good in the periods of time when fuel prices rise. However, I must add that in a place where there are a lot of uphills, the engine struggles and must be driven at wide open throttle to keep up with traffic. In this situation, it drinks as much fuel as my 1.6 liter Civic. 75 horsepower might sound too low, but in city driving it's hardly noticeable. However, when you are on a high speed road you may want to give it a second thought on passing that 50 mph Geo with oncoming traffic, much less if you are carrying more than 3 people.
Another good thing about the 323 is its styling. It's a good looking car even with those steel wheels and plastic covers. There is power steering to help you in tight spots and the A/C works really well in hot days. Too bad there are no power windows, airbags, ABS, and a handful of other nice things that make driving a lot easier and safer.
On the road, the tires show it's limitations at high speeds. Above 70 mph, the whole car feels unstable and the steering wheel feels somewhat disconected from the front wheels. The wind from oncoming traffic hits the car and there is a slight movement. However, it still feels secure when cornering, but transitions are not exactly good feeling. I'm sure that a better set of tires would improve all that, since there is a great handling MazdaSpeed Protege using this same chassis.
Be it as it may, it's still a great car with good reliabilty and quality for people looking for an economic and comfortable ride.