Being one of the world`s biggest names in the car business, most Mazdas are pretty well known. The RX8, MX5 and RX7 are some of the most famous, but most of us are aware of their more boring siblings too, like the Mazda3 or Mazda Demios. That said, as a company that’s been selling for almost 100 years and produces over 1.5 million units per year, there have been several unusual models you may not know.
Mazda MX5 NB Coupé
You are probably asking yourself why feature an ordinary Miata from the early `2000s since this car isn’t exactly rare? But give it another look; this MX5 is not a roadster, but a proper coupé with a fixed roof. In 2004, Mazda produced just 179 coupé versions of the MX5 and released them only on the domestic Japanese market.
That is why this car is totally strange to enthusiasts overseas. We have to admit that the MX5 Coupé looks astonishing and its sleek silhouette only adds to the appeal of the original model. If you are mesmerized by the rarity, elegance, and charm of this little coupé, we’ll have to disappoint you; there’s only 179 in the UK and they rarely come up for sale.
Mazda Xedos 6
Introduced in 1992 and discontinued in 1999, the Xedos 6 was Mazda`s attempt to sell an upscale brand based on a regular everyday platform. The philosophy was similar to Lexus, Toyotas premium brand. Their first model was called the Xedos 6, based on their Mazda 626 sedan. Mazda gave the Xedos 6 a premium design, upmarket detailing, chrome grill and fancy interior and in some markets, they referred to the model as just the Xedos 6. In a few other markets, this car was also sold as the Eunos 500. Despite it being a competent mid-size family sedan, it didn’t catch the attention of mainstream buyers and this luxurious model was killed after disappointing sales.
Remember the early `90s affordable coupé trend? Models like the awesome Fiat Coupé, Vauxhall Calibra and Peugeot 406 Coupé were very popular with buyers at the time. Mazda’s attempt to the market, the MX6 fell a little bit more under the radar. Produced from 1987 to 1997 in two distinctive generations, the MX6 was also based on the 626 Sedan but with a much sleeker and sportier body, two doors and more powerful engines.
Mechanically, it was the twin brother to the Ford Probe (remember that car?) which meant it was cheap to maintain but still enjoyable to drive. The second generation had even more extensive engine choices, and you could even order it with a 2.5-litre V6 packing 200 horsepower. Pretty damn good for the `90s and it was actually quite a lively performer!
Mazda Xedos 9
Even though the Xedos 6 wasn’t as popular as Mazda hoped it would be, the company decided to introduce a bigger and more luxurious model called the Xedos 9. Judging by its size, equipment level, and luxury features, it was closer to a BMW 5-Series or Mercedes E-Class. Unfortunately, it retained the front-wheel-drive layout of less prestigious Mazda models which isn’t exactly premium.
In most markets, the Xedos 9 replaced the ageing 929 Sedan, which was the biggest Mazda model. Under the hood, there were only V6 petrol engines to be had, with decent power and performance to be fair. This model was introduced along with the Xedos 6 but remained in production a bit longer, until 2002. Much like the smaller Xedos 6, the 9 was also sold under the Eunos 800 name and for some markets as the Mazda Millenia.
You might remember the late `80s Mazda 121 as a cute little bubble car which was cheap and durable. However, when the time came for a replacement, Mazda decided to turn to Ford who was its parent company at the time and ask to use the Fiesta platform for its new compact car.
Introduced in 1996, the Mazda 121 was an extreme exercise in badge engineering since it looked identical to the Fiesta, had the same interior, engines and was even produced on the same assembly line. However, for whatever reason, it wasn’t as successful as the Fiesta and was quickly dropped. The interesting thing about this car is its anonymous appearance. Who knows how many times you’ve passed this model on the road thinking it’s just another old Fiesta? Officially though, it’s a Mazda!
Unlike some of the others on this list, this car is actually pretty cool. Introduced in 1991 and produced until 98, the Mazda MX3 is a bit of a hidden gem. In those days, Mazda was desperate to prove itself as a performance brand with multiple sporty models available in the lineup at once. The Miata and MX6 were the most common, but the lineup started with the tiny MX3, a car with low weight, direct steering, and if you chose right, a fantastic engine option.
Most MX3’s came with run of the mill four-cylinder engines, but for demanding customers, Mazda sold a high-revving 1.8-litre V6 with 130 horsepower. Those pistons must be tiny! Still, this model was relatively quick at the time and a favorite for its quirky Kei-Car style ethos. Not a lot of torque, but it’s still very unusual to have a V6 engine with such a low displacement.
Mazda CX-7 2.3 Turbo
When you first look at the CX-7, most won’t see anything out of the ordinary. Crossover design, plenty of space and good equipment. As is often the case though, looks can be deceiving and the CX-7 proves this. Featuring the same 2.3-litre four-cylinder from the Mazda 3 MPS or the Mazda 6 MPS (Mazdaspeed 3 or Mazdaspeed 6 in the US), it packs a punch delivering 256 horsepower.
The power is sent to all four wheels using the drivetrain from the Mazda6 MPS ensuring maximum traction and road holding. The CX-7 was produced from 2006 until 2012 and in the UK at least, it’s pretty rare with only 2500 left. Only a small fraction of them have the 2.3 turbo as well, leaving most of them with a more modest diesel engine. That said, brace yourself if you’re British. The yearly tax is £555! Ouch!