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Published on July 5th, 2011 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez

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Mazda 323 Familia 1.6i 1990 model used buy option

This model was introduced in 1990 as the four-door sedan version of Mazda’s very popular 323 hatchback. Both were redesigned for 1990, with the Familia getting remakes again in 1995 and 1999. Some say the Familia of 1990-94 looks a bit like the smaller Mercedes-Benz sedans, the 190 series of that time. Such comparisons fit with Mazda’s stated styling theme in 1990: tradition and quiet dignity blended with aerodynamic sportiness. There is no shortage of 323 sedans in the market for sale. This ultra-competitive corner of this market is filled with at least 5 main contenders, which are the Nissan Sentra 1.6 twin cam (now very commonly used as a taxi to Genting Highlands), Toyota Corolla SE 1.6, Proton Wira 1.6, Honda Civic 1.6 and the Ford Laser 1.6. The Familia is among the better entries with a lower asking price.
Interestingly, the Familia and the Ford Laser share many of their under-skin mechanical components. Indeed, at that time Ford had farmed out its small-car development to Mazda. The product of that arrangement was the 1990 model 323 Familia and the then-new Ford Laser was to have identical mechanicals. So underneath the skin of every 10-year-old Ford Laser 1.6cc lurks the heart of a 323 Familia. This arrangement has followed with many other later models like the Ford Lynx and the Mazda Lantis. In the 323 sedan you’ll find that front and rear legroom is particularly good. Headroom is adequate, however seats are too low and the interior fabric needs some getting used to. The rear seats split and fold down 60/40 to allow easy access to a very roomy boot. The boot lid is large and opens to the bumper, making loading of such things as groceries easy.
Instrumentation is clean and functional, with dials plainly readable between the thick sports like, three-spoke steering wheel. All the instruments fit in a nicely sculpted dash, which is slightly higher than that of, say, the Honda Civic of the day. The car comes equipped with a host of power options, from electric windows, mirrors, central locking and quite attractive 13-inch alloy wheels.

Cycle & Carriage offered only one engine choice, a 1.6-litre of displacement with single overhead cam. This relatively spirited four-cylinder engine could easily take you from 0-100 km in about 10-plus seconds. The 105-brake horsepower engine is smooth and very economical. Spare parts are easily available and abundant. A 1994 automatic model sells for about RM12,000. The other cars in this year and class with similar features are going from RM14,000 for the Corolla to as high as RM16,000 for the Honda Civic. Make your used car purchase decision based on price, depreciation and maintenance.


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