Fleet News

Mazda 323 1.5 GXi

Mazda

Review

WHAT a difference a rear spoiler can make - compare the picture above with pre-launch shots of the new Mazda 323 fastback, taken in Japan. Prior to makeover for the UK market - a first full-year target of 14,000 units and 45% of which is likely to be corporate business - the five-door may have deserved its 'lacklustre, mundane, mainstream' tags.

Here and now in the British parc, 'mainstream' remains an apt description, and while the new 323 doesn't have the chic nor sporty lines of its coupe-like predecessor, that simple, roof-mounted cosmetic has helped lift the car's presence way past lacklustre and mundane. It should be as visually appealing to potential user-choosers as a Renault Megane, Volkswagen Golf or Vauxhall Astra. And to those with particularly conservative tastes it's far less of a plunge into modern art than a Ford Focus. Mazda says the C-segment market it's aiming for wants functionality, not funky.

The biggest fleet-seller is likely to be the 1.5-litre model, just launched in GXi trim with standard traction control and priced at ú14,420 on-the-road. A marginally less well-equipped 323 2.0-litre turbodiesel, due in the new year, will be priced the same as the 1.5 GXi featured here. Also from early in 1999, the range will have a ú11,720 1.3 LXi entry model and an LXi-specification 1.5, marked up at ú13,470 (plus ú800 for automatic transmission). Top 323s are the 1.8 GSI at ú15,220 (plus auto option), and the 323 SE at ú16,070.

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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