Reliable, compact runabout
Brake Master Cylinder needed replacement.
Rubber grommets on top of engine where screws hold down engine cover leaked oil.
Poor airflow on driver-side windscreen demister.
Stitching and vinyl on front seats badly deteriorated due to ultraviolet exposure.
Lack of vacuum in a particular hose meant the engine timing did not automatically advance (no obvious fix).
Choke lever inside cabin would spring back automatically, and had to be held in place by hand or with an object on cold mornings.
I bought a white KA 1.3L Laser with around 150,000km on the odometer. The car was around its use-by date at this stage, but I still got almost 50,000 km and four years of mostly trouble-free motoring. It was underpowered, but not badly so. It didn't have enough power to get into fourth gear up steep inclines (such as the Southern Expressway in Adelaide) and do 90km/h like the rest of the cars. I had to stay in third gear and do around 75-80km/h.
The gearing was good so despite the lack of power the steepest of hills could still be climbed, albeit at a slower pace.
The car had good storage space, with the rear seats folded down I could transport a lawnmower or a computer desk (unassembled) in the back. It was a well designed car thanks to Mazda and the build quality, although not great, was satisfactory. I didn't learn until after a few years that the car was assembled in Australia, which explained the number of Lasers on the road. Parts were plentiful and fairly easy to find eg. at Kmart, as the car was common.
I wouldn't mind owning a Laser again although next time it would be a 1.5L KB or a 1.6L second-generation KC.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 3rd March, 2005