Reliable and affordable
Silencer broke at 80000 km.
Thermostat broke at 85000 km.
All 4 drive-shaft sleeves leaking due to marten bites.
In general the Mazda 626 is a good car. It is very reliable and tough, offers lots of room for passengers and luggage and has a satisfying performance at a reasonable fuel consumption.
As for the reliablity and quality, my 1990 model hasn't got any spot of rust, which is remarkable in our climate where roads are salted against ice in the winter.
The car is solidly constructed as well. I hit a deer with about 120 kph and just had to change the front bumper, hood and lights. The cooler and the frame didn't take any damage, I just still pull out some deer hair...
Unfortunately spare parts are quite expensive (just here in Germany?). I.e. the chrome bar on top of the front bumper is € 80 at Mazda, a set of front brake pads is about € 70 and a muffler about € 85. But with this car you won't need much spare parts anyway and most of them you can get at other manufacturers or from the scrapyard.
The engine is alright. It's not a rocket motor, 90 hp and 155 nm out of 2 litres aren't that stunning. It goes well in low and middle revs, but over 5000 revs just the noise increases, not the speed. It is still good enough for taking uphill autobahn parts with 180kph and the acceleration is good for some disbelieving looks.
It's character is a bit rough, but I don't feel disturbed by that. So you know it's really running.
The fuel consumption is alright, with a lot of city traffic I have a consumption of about 8 litres 91 octane fuel.
The driving comfort is really good. The suspension is rather smooth, but it has some problems with short hits like rails. The steering could be a bit more direct.
When you check out the handling, you know immediately this car was designed as a family car, so chasing it around bends will show it's limits quite soon. You will notice it's a honest understeerer. But due to a proper independent suspension it keeps always controllable.
About the design, well, to be honest I don't care much about that, to me things are nice or not, but I think it's not ugly.
All in all I can just recommend this car. You can get quite cheap ones, they're safe and reliable.
For the Germans: It's not that bad with the tax, you can get it down to Euro2 with a device changing characteristics of the cold engine, just the insurance is a bit expensive, Haftpflicht 21...
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 3rd June, 2004