Our pick: The best second-hand Mazdas
23 December 2020 - autocar
Mazda’s back catalogue throws up some choice morsels on the used market, and these are the best of them
Mazda has produced some truly special cars over the years. And now many of its best creations are available for knockdown prices on the used market.
Mazda MX-3 1992-1998 £800-£3500
While European firms were firing frenetic four-cylinder hot hatches out of their factories, Mazda chose instead to launch a compact coupé powered by a 1.8-litre V6. Today, the MX-3 is a great modern classic that'll double as a daily driver, thanks to robust quality and decent comfort. That 130bhp turbine-like V6 is no fireball but sounds great, and the front-drive chassis is nimble thanks to advanced passive rear steer. Better still, prices are low, with mint cars still only a couple of grand.
One we found: A £2195 1998 example with 89,000 miles, straight, well cared for, full history and MOT.
Mazda RX-7 1992-2002 £8000-£55,000
The RX-7 went toe to toe with Porsche for nearly 20 years, but with the third-gen FD model in 1992 it finally had a car to beat its rival. This version looked better than the 968 and went harder thanks to a 237bhp turbocharged rotary, and it handled just as sweetly. However, barely 200 found homes in the UK before sales stopped in 1996. These cars are rare, but there are plenty of the more powerful grey imports to choose from. Whichever you choose, a meticulous service history is essential.
Ones we found: A rare UK RX-7, the 96,000-mile car has been cared for and looks a steal at £10,000
Mazda MX-6 1992-1997 £1000-£5000
The 1990s coupé boom left buyers spoilt for choice. One of the most sophisticated, if understated, was the MX-6, which also formed the basis of the garish Ford Probe. The Mazda isn't as eye-catching as that, but it handles well and is powered by a creamy-smooth 168bhp 2.5-litre V6. There's also space for four and a usefully sized boot, so it's fairly versatile. Problems are few and far between, but a fully stamped service book is desirable.
One we found: Dry stored for 10 years, one owner and 99,000 miles. Lots of history and yours for £1750.
Mazda 323 4WD 1985-1989 £2500-£15,000
If you want to stand out from the Lancia Delta and Escort RS Cosworth homologation crowd, look no further than the 323 4WD. This turbocharged 148bhp 1.6-litre hatch is getting rare, though, and prices are rising. It's not as quick and composed as its Group A competition, but the compact 323 is fleet-footed and has genuine competition cred thanks to a trio of WRC wins. Rust has killed many of these motorsport Mazdas, so check for rot.
One we found: An 80k-miler with lots of history, but a tatty body means the £6500 price needs haggling.
Mazda 3 MPS 2003-2013 £2500-£12,000
Not many hot hatches have come out of Hiroshima, so it's hardly a surprise that the Mazda 3 MPS has slipped into obscurity. Yet with the potent 256bhp 2.3-litre engine from the 6 MPS driving the front wheels, a drive in this 3 is a memorable experience. Torque steer is an issue even with the standard limited-slip diff, but the Ford Focus-based Mazda is grippy and fun to drive. Early cars are a little frumpy, but the sharper second-generation version looks the part with its bonnet scoop and large rear wing. Better still, its cult status means most are well cared for, and reliability is excellent.