mazda Cars

UK CAR Review: Mazda 626 GSi 2.0 16V 1998

Mazda 626 2.0 GSi 16Valve 1998 5 door.

Mazda's new 626 replaced it's predecessor in June 1997.

Mazda 626 GSi 1998.

The GSi version is mid range in the specification level and comes with features such as air conditioning, electric sunroof, electric windows front and rear, electric mirrors, abs, pas, and much more to boot.

All of these features are very much standard on all of it's competitors such as the Honda Accord, Ford Mondeo, Vauxhall Vectra and many more mid range saloons hatchbacks and estates, so at least its competitive. Getting both Air con and an Electric sunroof is a fair bonus though.


In the early eighties I remember the 626 being advertised as more powerful and faster than a Porsche. The advert displayed a Mazda 626 overtaking two Porsche 924's hence trying to display the superiority of Mazda’s cars.

Well I don't think the advert hindered Porsche or indeed made too much of an impact on buyers of this now well established car. It must also be said that the Porsche was the baby model 924, it had an Audi
4 cylinder two litre unit and was not even that impressive in its own days of glory and admiration.

So what do you get when buying one of the Mazda 626 GS's?

The body is quite unimpressive in terms of style and looks and the interior is not too different from the outside. OK claws retracted the Mazda 626 is in a very competitive area of the market and indeed we are all becoming much more demanding on the manufactures to supply modern looking well featured cars.

I ask then how much could have been done better to myself, and I suppose I could not suggest too much without transforming this car into something which I prefer myself, but then it would not be a Mazda 626.

I guess this just is not one of my favourite cars, so I will continue without so much prejudice as a trading standards officer.

Mazda marketing the emblem they hope we remember. Front view with front lighting and subtle lines.

The hatchback is gifted with sleek lines down the sides. Shaping to the bonnet is very discreet but effective. The front now has a chrome grill with the Mazda emblem, and front fog and spot lamps being standard on the GSi. The bumpers and mirrors are colour coded, a rear boot spoiler which is also colour coded is fitted for that modern and sporty appearance. This car is somewhat predictable but still unique in that it doesn’t remind you of another make. Wheels are covered by plastic wheel trims but they are very effective in the appearance enhancement department.

Side view with Mazda style. Rear panel with boot spoiler attatched to tailgate.

The 626 interior is very family compliant, it has an enormous boot area and large back seats with a center arm rest, with boot entrance, which can be used for ski storage. Or I think that what they called the holes which allow the very rare movement of an object of length and no diameter.

This feature must be pointed out as a credit to the designer who thought of it and all carmakers then had to have one.

Rear seating with center arm rest/storage hole. Unique on a hatchback folding front seat.

But wait there is another feature on this Mazda, which not all car makers have; it is the folding front passenger seat. Yes if that long and narrow object doesn't fit through the centre armrest you can simply place it over the seating where the mother in-law should sit.

I suppose at least this feature is sensible and practical. Particularly if you can use it with the mother in-law being seated at the time, or at least in place of the mother in-law..

The seating fabric on the 626 GSi is of a velour nature and appears very hard wearing as well as comfortable the model tested had covered approximately 80k and was indeed wearing very well.

The drivers seat also has a front retracting armrest shame its not also for the passenger but good news for the driver.


Climate control panel for the 626.The ventilation system is very efficient. The climate control works a treat; the car was tested on a hot summer day. And the climate control worked well with lots to spare, there is nothing worse than the cars fitted with climate control which work on an econ basis and simply do not cool the interior effectively. The Mazda air conditioning works very well.



The Mazda is powered by a 2.0 litre 16V dohc 4 cylinder engine. This produces 136 bhp which is respectably modest for a unit of this size. The 0-60 figure comes up in 9.6 seconds which again is good and the mpg figures are very good for a car of the size and weight. In terms of top speed the car will stretch up to 130 mph, which I feel would not bother the cars suspension and handling overly .


The gearbox is a standard 5-speed transmission with (typically Japanese) very easily selected gear changes, and very decisive take up of the power produced by the engine. The clutch is light and easily controlled, and of course it comes with power steering, which is simply taken for granted as it works so well.


Driving the car is easy and quite a pleasure the engine has plenty of torque for lazy driving and will freely rev for those moments of madness/inspiration. Vision is very panoramic with the good seating position giving a confident feeling. The seats and belts are Mazda front seats with arm rest down. multi-adjustable and this car should fit most.

I was very impressed with the road holding and general handling but this may not be to most tastes.

The suspension is quite hard for a saloon of this class and the ride can be quite bumpy. But it does give a good feel to what is happening under the tyres and can encourage faster driving on A and B class roads.

The Mazda it not an expensive car to service and run, and indeed is reasonable to insure so all round it should be considered for that mid range car the next time you replace.

My only dislikes are personal and indeed I credit Mazda highly in the technical areas of this car so you should try one yourself. It might just be that perfect Mondeo, Vectra alternative for similar money.

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