1998 Mazda 626 LX 2.0 petrol
Unrivalled economy and reliability
Radiator started to come apart.
Locks can be sticky.
Occasional blue smoke from the exhaust when cold.
Usual wear and tear - brakes, exhaust, suspension, oil and belt changes.
This car was about 9 years old when I acquired it. I got it for a good price and it served me well for 10 years.
To look at it stood out due to very nice alloy wheels and the fact it was a saloon in a very dark metallic green, looked almost black in anything but direct sunlight (most 626's you see were hatchback models with wheel trims in a dull color).
Interior was nothing special with black plastic everywhere, but it was nicely laid out and comfortable with all electric equipment. My only complaint was the ride was a little too firm, and I hated the fiddly climate controls. To drive it handled good and acceleration was decent while doing 40 MPG.
To sum up, at nearly 20 years old and approaching 200,000 miles, I suppose it won't last forever and I will likely scrap it soon, as that smoke isn't getting any better and neither is the radiator, but I think I got my monies worth out of this car to say the least, and will likely replace it with something similar. A mate of mine has a Honda Accord from the same year and says this review can be pretty much copy and pasted for his car. The late 90s was an incredible time for cars of this type - all family saloons and executive cars have high ratings in reliability from this era.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 6th September, 2017
12th Dec 2017, 21:51
100% agree, these were good cars, I had a similar Mazda 626 that didn't die until it was about 20 years old with 180K on it. The car was as dull as hell in every way, but you can't put a price on reliability and durability.
19th Dec 2017, 22:35
The 1990's was an exceptional time for reliability of cars in this segment. Most cars I had from that era never gave me any major trouble.
You have to be realistic though if considering a 90s car today - rust is going to be an issue. Unless it's been oil waxed and never used in winter. Still, get any car well inspected, especially Japanese cars, they were above average in reliability, though they seem to rust earlier than other cars.
Never had a Mazda, but I kept my beloved 1998 Nissan Primera long term, but it finally came to the end of its life with rust failing it at last MOT test time. I will miss it, seems not too long ago I bought it and it served me well. 2018 is just around the corner and I can't believe I had it for so long - almost made it to 20 years old!