MAZDA 1300 £2,929
Neat three or five-door hatchback from Mazda has efficient overhead camshaft engine under its sloping bonnet, and in three-door form only (designated '1000') there is a smaller-engined model with 985 cc engine. Seats are trimmed tartan-style, the rear cushions folding to provide a long flat floor. The free-revving engines demand only low-grade petrol, but performance is excellent, even the '1000', coping with big loads. A four-speed manual gearbox is standard equipment, but 1300 models are also available with automatic transmission. The cars are extensively rust-proofed, and there are many special features to prevent corrosion.
MAZDA 1.4 HATCHBACK Price to be announced
New model is the 1.4 Hatchback SP with equally new 1415 cc overhead camshaft engine, and five-speed gearbox. Inspired by the Hatchback Rally which has been performing well in 1978 competition, the SP has a three-door body, and comes only in black with red/orange stripes, or silver with black/blue stripes. Bumpers are in energy-absorbing plastic, windscreen wipers and light surrounds are in matt black, so there is little brightwork to corrode. Engine is a development of the Mazda 1300, but has bigger cylinder bore and 70 bhp on tap. The indirect fifth gear provides fussfree motorway cruising, and the makers claim 32-24 mpg.
MAZDA 1400 ESTATE Price to be announced
Hatchback variation from Mazda is the 1400 Estate, achieved by grafting-on an extended tail to the smaller five-door body. Powered by an identical 1415 cc ohc 70 bhp engine to the 1.4 SP, the roomy estate has a four-speed gearbox, and semi-elliptic rear springs which frees more rear interior space. The rear seat is 'split', so that permutations can be made between passengers and loads, and when both rear seatbacks are folded-forward there is a flat floor of 148.59 cm (58.5 in.)--enough for bulky items, or even a night's sleep! Body has a flared lip on the rear rooftop, to deflect much of the dirty rain water away from the rear window.