1988 Mazda 323 Base 1.8 I4 4 speed from North America


Low end torque = good


Three weeks after I bought the car, the head gasket blew. We were able to fix it ourselves in about 15 hours of work. We figured it was just time. The engine suffered no damage.

Radiator developed a leak from a problem we missed. The bottom fastenings for the electric fan were missing, and after banging back and forth, it finally made a leak. Only about 2 hours to fix.

The front-right tire has a bad wheel bearing that we would have fixed right away, but you need a special tool to get the disk off. (Grr)

General Comments:

I have owned this about 5 months, and I am already in love with it.

Only 90bhp, but 105 lbs of torque at 2500rpm. That and its light weight make for instant response with the gas pedal. Even at 75mph, if you push the throttle even the tiniest amount more, you and your passanger can tell immediately.

Loves the city's, but gets a little grumpy on the expressways. It needs one more gear added onto it, the motor has to spin fairly fast to make 70.

Because the motor must spin so fast, it doesn't have the fuel economy it should.

Despite the cars size, the front is actually quite roomy and very comfortable.

Powerful heater.

When the odd problem comes, it's cheap and easy to fix.

Unique look for a Hot Hatch, looks very rugged somehow. I think it's the body height.

So, to sum it up, beautiful acceleration and power for the actual engine specs, good, but not great economy, low top speed, but a lot of fun getting there. I highly recommend this car.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 24th November, 2001

28th Apr 2004, 08:15

Thanks for the tip on the fuel economy. I need a gas miser and I figured with the size this would fit the bill, but I guess not.


21st Feb 2005, 20:25

That's because he has only the 4 speed. I was certain that all 323's came with the 5 speed manual, or 4speed w/OD. I guess not.

25th Jun 2008, 12:39

The SE model and the GTX came with a 5 speed transmission. The base model had the 4 speed.

15th May 2010, 22:29

After my truck broke, my dad gave me his 323 he got from a friend. First time I have driven a manual, and this car is easy for starting off, though I am sad it ain't no GTX, but this is a fun fun fun little car. Simply because of the throttle response on it, and it handles well, it's just so fun to drive anywhere in.

1988 Mazda 323 LX 1.6 from North America


I do not have enough good things to say about this car


Nothing has gone wrong with the car.

General Comments:

This has been a phenomenal car. It drives the same as it did 13 years ago. The engine is very peppy and it handles well. The gas mileage is great.

The original air conditioning system is in place and it still cools as well as it did when new. Even the power windows and cruise control work without a hitch.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 23rd June, 2001

1988 Mazda 323 SE Hatchback 1.6L DOHC from North America


An athletic sport compact all the way!


The car wasn't in the greatest shape when I bought it (for $500), but for about $700 and a few trips to the shop, it was all fixed up. I ended up getting new front struts, new rotors, oil sender, and a few smaller things under the hood.

The seats were pretty worn, so I had a friend resurface them, the interior in general was in rough shape, but I found a good parts car in the junk yard and it was a pretty cheap fix-up.

General Comments:

I love the Mazda, it's fast, cheap, fun, and was great in the snow! It has great acceleration, performance tunes very well, and cleans up very nice.

The interior is small, but spacious, it feels like a much larger car from the inside than it looks like on the outside. The car is great on the wallet, some-what sporty if you fix it up, and is very reliable. With the cold nights we have in the winter I was surprised when I ROARED to life in the morning at -20 degree temperatures.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 1st June, 2001

1988 Mazda 323 LX 1.6 SOHC from North America


A great small car if you can afford the maintenance


Many things were to be replaced due to the age/mileage, but there were a few chronic problems:


Braking and cooling systems.

Had to replace the A/C, CV joints, exhaust, several very expensive sensors for fuel injection, and much more.

Parts were very expensive. After about 80,000 miles something was breaking down all the time.

General Comments:

Great handling, good design, roomy, good quality materials and paint.

Very stable at highway speeds and corners flat.

Very good power at low rpms for a small car.

Big trunk, but uncomfortable to load/unload.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 1st December, 2000

1988 Mazda 323 LX (4 Door Sedan) 1.6 SOHC (non-turbo) from North America


Performance on a shoestring


Nothing aside from routine maintenance (brakes, tires, etc.)

General Comments:

Great car, very quick and responsive, cheap on insurance (came up as a luxury car (?)). VERY fun to drive.

Seats could be a little bit more comfy, but not bad. Plenty of hop-up options, if you know where to look (I have a K&N filtercharger, Genie headers, HKS exaust, CamTech performance cam, Eibach springs, Raybestos brakes, American Racing wheels, Pace-Setter shifter w/ Hurst boot, Grant Racing steering wheel, and a Pioneer stereo system).

Great little car, good gas mileage, I can't say enough about it. I love it!!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 1st August, 2000

1988 Mazda 323 LX 1.6L from North America


Unreliable exhaust system, everything on it has been changed . Sort of expected for its age, nevertheless has been quite frequent.

General Comments:

A good car for the value, given its high reliability.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 29th June, 1998