The Mazda Familia has a long and rich history. Manufactured from 1963 to 2003, the Mazda Familia is a small car that was a subcompact (from 1963 to 1994) before becoming a compact (from 1995 to 2003). While it was available for many years as a sedan, wagon, and a coupe, the sedan and wagon were the most popular variants. These offered a great amount of headroom because of the taller cab, ample storage because of the sizeable boot, and a modest exterior, which was perfect for Australian families at the time.
It was a very popular Mazda model during its production, and was known under a few different names in different countries, one of which was the Protégé in Australia. When it was retired, the Mazda3 took up the mantle as Mazda’s flagship compact car. Still, a look back at the 40 years of production reveals a very interesting evolution of automotive technology.
The first Familia was only available in Japan during a time when luxury cars were not affordable for most people. It was a two-door wagon called the Mazda Familia Van, and it was marketed to those who wanted an affordable vehicle. About 10,000 of the first-generation Familias were mostly exported to Australia. While much has changed over subsequent generations of the model, its ideal of appealing to the average person who could not afford a luxury car remained a staple of the vehicle.
The seventh and eight generations of the car – the last two before production ended – are very popular on the used car market. The car’s reliability, size, and longevity make them popular choices for new drivers purchasing their first vehicle. It is an easy car to adapt to as the size is small without feeling too small.
The Mazda Familia’s influence has touched other models, as well. The Mazda3 is one of the more popular cars available today, but it owes much of its existence to the Familia. The four-decade-long tradition of compact cars in the Mazda family continues through the Mazda3, and a close look at both the Mazda3 and Mazda Familia reveals their similarities.
While the Mazda Familia maintained familiarity throughout its four-decade production run, there were numerous tweaks and improvements administered to the car as the years went by. This included advancements that were both in line with current market expectations and advancements that implemented the most current of technologies.
Four body styles were available on the eighth generation of the Mazda Familia, which was in production from 1998 to 2003: a five-door hatchback, a three-door hatchback, a four-door sedan, and a five-door wagon. Their engines varied from 1.3L to 2.0L, including a 2.0L diesel, and had the choice of either 4-speed automatic or 5-speed manual transmissions. The Mazda Familia GTR BG came with a hatchback, three doors, a manual 5 speed transmission, 4WD, and a 4-cylinder, 1.8L engine. The seventh-generation Familia was also available in either 4-speed automatic or 5-speed manual transmissions, and it was likewise available in a 2.0L diesel engine, much like its successor.
The 9th generation wagon released in 1999 boasted five doors and the option for either an automatic or manual transmission. In 2001, everything was upgraded, and the Familia then included sport-tuned suspension, 104 kW of power, and a 2.0L engine.
With the Mazda Familia being a flagship compact for four decades, almost every possible option for an economy car has been made available at some point or another. The 2003 model in particular upgraded its standard kit to include an amplifier and a 20.32 centimetre subwoofer. Half a year later, they followed it up with an aero-kit, custom interior pieces, and darker painted wheels.
The Mazda Familia ES received improvements in other areas, including a stiffer suspension and rear disc brakes. Most Familia models you find on the used car market today typically have power windows, power locks, power mirrors, cruise control, a CD player, or even a power sunroof. Air-conditioning was available on many models too, as was a defroster. Power steering is also a major benefit to the Familia, and passenger and driver-side airbags ensure the safety of the passengers, as do child-safety door locks.
In the small economy car market, the Mazda Familia is one of the best, which is why it was able to sustain production for four decades, retiring only to make way for the Mazda 3, a very similar car. The Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla are two cars that have consistently sold better in the compact car category, which also includes the Ford Falcon or the Holden Statesman. This is mainly because the Mazda Familia was more expensive, but also because it was less well-known to the buying public.
The Ford Laser and Ford Meteor used the Familia as a basis for their design, and with the Ford name, they were able to quickly catch on with the Familia’s target audience. They also had sedan and hatchback models, as well as 4WD, a 1.8L engine, and the choice of either a 5 speed manual transmission or a 4 speed automatic transmission.
The Familia’s availability on the used car market makes it a very attractive buy, and it features the added vintage effect that cars like the Camry or Civic cannot boast.