What more could a fleet manager looking for a bargain and hassle-free ownership want? And what more could the upper medium sector driver expect - after all, he or she will be getting the car park kudos of a generously-equipped 115bhp 2.0-litre hatch for less than the price of most of the mainstream 1.8-litre opposition.
ABS is an absentee from the five-door 626's standard specification list, but that's about it. You have to move up ú1,000 from LXi to GXi to gain anti-lock brakes. Mazda's otherwise generous, sometimes ingenious, approach in the equipment department - which includes security necessities such as remote central locking, deadlocks and immobiliser - compensate.
However, while it does most things well (although there's nothing about the car's looks, performance or road manners which could be described as outstanding) there's one minus point none of our drivers has been able to forgive or become accustomed to as the LXi approaches 11,000 trouble-free miles. It's that horrid little Clarion stereo radio-cassette with its detachable (difficult to re-attach) security panel and controls designed to be operated with a pair of tweezers and a magnifying glass.
Mazda makes the climate control both simple to understand and easy to operate. It looks as if it belongs there. The in-car entertainment irritation belongs in the 1980s, and its presence in an otherwise well-rounded package may be enough to sway potential drivers in the direction of a Ford Mondeo or a 1.8-litre Volkswagen Passat, Peugeot 406, Citroen Xantia, or Vauxhall Vectra.
Sort that out with a modern, integrated audio system and Mazda could see a deserved improvement in fleet sales for its high-mileage workhorse.