Mazda 626 Hatchback 1999 - 2002

Mazda 626 Hatchback 1999 - 2002

Review by it
Monday, May 16, 2016

Pros:

  • Good reliability
  • A comfortable full-size car for 5 people

Cons:

  • A very boring overall experience
  • Smelly materials in the interior

Overview

The 5th generation of the Mazda 626 was quite a big step away from the previous generations. It was built on an entirely new platform and most of the engines were completely revised, nevertheless many people remained unsatisfied. Although the Japanese engineers managed to stomp out the majority of reliability issues, they robbed the 626 of its character and fun-factor. The drivers who switched from the 4th to the 5th generation were unhappy that the car has lost some of its earlier charm.

Exterior and Interior

The body of the 626 is rather characterless. The 4th generation Mazda was substantially more adventurous and the new 626 can sometimes be mistaken for the 4th generation's predecessor. Nevertheless, people who don't like flashy cars find the 5th generation 626 a good, reasonable choice. It's a full-size car with a good level of comfort. The interior design is quite pleasant as it is comfortable and spacious. It has five full seats, there's plenty of legroom and shoulder-room. The only problem is that the materials used are not of high quality. There are three body styles available ‐ a sedan, hatchback and estate. The most harmonious is the hatchback version. Its rear end is actually quite stylish. Besides, the hatchback version offers much more convenient access to the boot. You might want to look at the post-2000 models for some better interior options and a slight facelift, which makes the front end of the car look more like the 4th generation. Most of the younger Mazdas are well-equipped and the kit includes a full set of airbags, electric windows, mirrors and other little things that you usually expect in a modern car. For a more refined interiors you should choose the Sport trim, which includes wooden inlays (or at least something that looks like wood) and a more appealing dashboard.

Performance and Economy

It's understandable that 90BHP is not quite enough for this car, especially in the estate version. Both 2.0-litre models should make a good choice. Anything over 100BHP will work well and provide decent performance. The 2.0-litre engines can achieve 35mpg easily. The diesel will stretch to 50mpg but it's likely that you won't enjoy the Mazda's diesel. Although it generates 101BHP, there's something missing and if you compare it with similar French or German engines, you'll instantly notice the difference. Most of the 626s come in around the insurance groups 19 ‐ 21. The car is built to serve, not to drive you to bankruptcy.

Like to Drive

It's no thrill and there is very little fun when driving a 626. The engine performance is below average. Overall, it leaves an impression of a large, slightly dull but certainly very reliable car. It's a perfect option for people who treat a car like a mere means of transportation. The ride is quite bumpy, steering is not responsive and the gear lever takes quite a lot of handling before you get used to it. Although it's a full-size car, the 626 is comfortable to drive in a city. Its turning radius is identical to a much smaller Ford Escort. Manoeuvring and parking is actually an easy job in a Mazda 626.

Faults and Repairs

The 626 has been known for its reliability and longevity since the introduction of the 3rd generation. The newest 626 is not an exception ‐ it is a very reliable car. The bumpy ride is quite annoying and in many cases it gets worse with age. Suspension is the weakest link of the 626 ‐ it needs a good inspection before buying a used car. The engines and gearboxes are tough and built to last a very long time.