1991(2) Mazda MX-3 Precidia
Earlier this year, I tested the Nissan NX2000, and I figured it was the entry-level
hatchback to beat.
Well, there's a new kid on the block, and it's every bit as good as the NX2000, and in
some ways, better.
It's the Mazda MX-3, or as Mazda is calling it in Canada, the Precidia. I think I'll
stick with MX-3...it's easier to say.
There are two engine choices: a 1.6 litre multi-valve four cylinder, and an absolutely
amazing 1.8 litre V6. Power output for the V6 is 130 horsepower at 6500 rpm, and it's the
smallest V6 engine on the market.
Two transmissions are offered: a five-speed manual and a four-speed automatic, with
Mazda's patented Hold device. My test GS had the automatic, and, aside from questioning the
viability of the Hold feature, I liked it.
Although small, the V6 is powerful and torquey enough to handle an autobox, which can't
be said of the four-banger. Mazda really has pulled off a minor coup with this engine...who
would have thought a V6 under 2 litres was even possible, let alone this versatile.
On the other hand, it's not really that surprising considering Mazda's engineering
background (first manufacturer to produce the Wankel rotary in meaningful numbers).
A well-tuned, multi-valve four cylinder CAN match this V6 in terms of revving power,
but it has a much deeper reserve of passing power, and a very lively mid-range. It also
As you would expect, the MX-3 (officially a 1992 model) also has a high tossability
factor. It's very nimble, with a superb sense of balance and exceptional handling and
The V6 GS version comes with four-wheel disc brakes, the four cylinder, with front
disc/rear drum, and you can order ABS.
The MX-3 is one of the most enjoyable cars to drive I've had in quite awhile. If I had
to compare it with the NX2000, I wouldn't want to pick a winner either way.
But in terms of styling, the MX-3 has the edge. I think this is the best looking compact
sports coupe on the road, even though it's actually a hatchback. If you look closely, you
can see how the doors are styled to match the headlights. Neat.
Access to the rear storage compartment is a little awkward...it's a long way to go to
reach bottom, but there's plenty of room: 8.4 cubic feet.
One fairly serious drawback is lack of head room. Back seat passengers will find it
particularly claustrophobic, and tall drivers are going to find the MX-3 a snug fit. Side
and rear visibility is affected because of this, and backing the car up is kind of a hassle.
Mazda has a history of restrictive headroom in their models, and the MX-3 is no
Fortunately, they also have a history of making attractive, well-engineered sports
cars with a very high fun quotient.
Again, the MX-3 is no exception.
|AT A GLANCE:
||Two-door compact sports coupe
||Front-drive; 1.8 litre V6 engine; four-speed automatic transmission
||$13,495 base; $17,995 for the GS (in 1991)
||11 L/100 km city; 9 L/100 km hwy.
||5 years/ 100,000 kilometres
||Optional anti-locking brakes; three-point rear seat belts
DISLIKES:- Lack of headroom
- Unexceptional fuel economy
- Awkward rear storage
FOLLOW-UP SUMMER '96:Price for the Precidia has gone up by three or four thousand, but it is still a
wonderful little car, especially the V6 version. Mazda is rumoured to considering
getting rid of the MX-3, which would be a shame.