The Mazda 323 is a good, reliable and cheap to maintain car. It's done 236k kms, and still runs like new. I plan to keep it until she dies (or I die).
The engine is virtually sound-less and smooth like a Swiss watch. Repairs and service are easy to do at home.
It does 100km in less than 6 liters. Takes less than three liters of engine oil, so I can change the oil twice with a 6L pack (hence cheaper).
Parts are also cheap for this car. In my personal opinion, this is definitely one of the cheapest cars to buy, run and maintain. Much more economical than other cars of this category I have owned, such as Corolla, Civic, Almera. Here in Finland, a Corolla/Civic will cost more than twice as much as a 323 of similar age/condition.
But there are some manufacturing flaws, which I would like to mention.
- Car seats are stiff and small, and also the suspension is slightly stiffer than my previous car (a Nissan Almera).
- Rear view mirrors are too small (vertically).
- Steering is too sensitive for my taste.
- Like any other Mazda, the car has started to rust, and I am sure it will be eaten away in a few years. Paint also fades on Mazdas easily.