Mazda’s much publicised replacement 323 range has now arrived in Britain in three distinct guises. The three different engine options, all 16-valve, are the single overhead camshaft 1.3 and 1.6 and the twin overhead camshaft 1.8.
Body styling also comes in three forms: four-door saloon, three-door hatch and the five-door fastback with prices ranging from £7489 for the base 1.3 SE 3-door hatchback to £12,299 for the 1.8-litre GT Injection five-door fastback.
A chance to drive a number of these models showed just what a quantum leap they are over the old 323 range, both in styling and refinement. The handling is excellent and the ride smooth while the svelte five-speed gearbox was one of the slickest yet encountered. If it were not for the import quotas on Japanese cars, there is no doubt that this new range would have some European car manufacturers extremely anxious. SK