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Mazda 323

Mazda 323

4.4 from 33 reviews

See the Best Hatchbacks in 2019 as rated by Australians on ProductReview.com.au.

Great car

Had it for 3 years put 75k on it bush bashed it raced it crashed it and fixed it
This car is unkillable it has to be one of the best little cars on the market for the price you pay
Wouldn't get anything else crap fifty words is hard to make up

Date PurchasedMar 2015


bought my car second hand has lasted me a long time. although, i did recently have a head gasket problem, however it was an easy fix due to a good family mechanic and well manufactured motor. this car runs so smooth and will last you years. has done well over 260 000 kms and i have never regretted it. good on fuel, and can be a pocket rocket if you want it to be

Date PurchasedMar 2014

Great car!

It is a great car, can't fault it with anything. I changed nothing on it, never let me down. Fuel economy is OK, but it could be done heaps better. Noisy, very noisy, and high revs. Mazda should improve on NVH and fuel economy. A sixth gear would have been a must back then. I strongly recommend Mazda to copy some top European cars past models.

Date PurchasedJan 2007

Well worth the money.

Bought my car in 2002, brand new and she’s still going strong. Little bit heavy on the juice, but still in really good Condition. Services don’t cost anything like the new models. Electrics still work fine, only had to replace the CD unit. Will consider only upgrading next year for safety reasons.

BadgeProtege Limited Edition
Date PurchasedJan 2002

Good cheap run around

This car is an excellent cheap run around. I've neever had any mechanical issues with it. The stereo was really hard to get out however when I replaced it. Its super cheap to run. I'm not sure if its a common issue but mu bonnet wouldn't close properly unfortunately. Get one.

Date PurchasedJan 2013

Reliable Daily Driver

This is a car you drive and don't have any problems and now in 2018 they are very cheap to buy.
They are made in Japan and are very well made, i change the oil my self and i almost never need to bring the car to mechanic, nothing ever goes wrong with these.
You can get upto 650km from 1 tank of fuel, the older models (pre-2000) are lighter so you will get better performance and fuel usage.
Manual is a better option if you want to save fuel, but auto is better for getting off lights faster since it will makes the engine rev harder. There is no modern variable value timing here, just dual overhead cam timing, so you will need to change belts every 100,000km.
On the manual the cluck is every light and very easy to drive, but will need to be rev'ed hard to get decent power, You only get decent Power above 3000rpm.

If you have problems with misfiring or rough idling change spark plug leads, sometimes they short out onto the engine, this is a common issue. Changing the coils and cleaning the injectors on high km engines improves power. Some times just resetting the computer fixes most issues, but there is no universal obd port on the AU version of this car, except for the sports version.
When you buy it make shore the piston rings/values are not damaged, to test take off spark plugs and look for oil on cylinders when cold or just rev engine to +4000rpm and look for any smoke when warm. If they are damaged the computer will keep the car running fine but you will use lots of oil and will have lower power output.

Date PurchasedMay 2004

Zoom Zoom Zoom

Great little car!
Amazing economy.
Performance- Build quality - quite luxurious for a 1.6 sedan. Ride comfort is really good. Appearance - solid, nice, great, eye-candy.

Great little commuter or for long travels, hasn't missed a beat the whole to me owning her.

Due for a service now, but still running strong!

Pros: Looks
Cons: Noise

BadgeProtege Shades
Date PurchasedNov 2016

Great family car

The driving experience of this car is great it's not noisey and feels quiet smooth to drive, it's spacious and comfortable for long drives. It's cheap to run and fix it hasn't let me down so far and as mine is manual and I'm learning to drive manual I find it an easy car to learn to drive manual in

Date PurchasedFeb 2017

Great reliable car

The car is reliable, I have a 2003 model, it's the 1.8 litre it's ok on fuel I get like 400kms to a tank, that's all city driving though, get much better mileage on the highway. It had 88,000kms when I bought it, now it's got 140,000kms. Nothing's gone wrong with it, costs me about $170 every 10,000kms to get it checked over and change filters flush engine etc. I would get Mazda again for sure

BadgeProtege Shades
Date PurchasedApr 2014


I bought 2001 model for $2400 with 170000 kms on it nd now it is 208000 kms. After a year i spent $500 on rear shockers and timing belt and now it is running great. With 17 inch tyres and exhaust it is still Very fuel efficient and easy to maintain. i am going to sell it now but i dont want to sell it.

Date PurchasedMar 2015

Mazda astina 323 2002

Only purchased this car in 2016 and had less then 86,000 very reliable good value for money I only spent $4,000 from privet seller only bad problem I had with it was the transmission would make a weird sound but got that fixed and still runs till this day and doesn't cost to much to service

Date PurchasedSep 2015

Good reliable car

Bought it in 2012 with 80k
Timing belt every 100k or 5 years, though the original lasted 15 years.
My back was hurt from putting child in middle of car, but now that he walks is all good.
Power, I have 1.8l auto and it is awesome.
Ride is good. Beware the stock tyres for 1.8L must be 185/65/14 or 195/55/15, anything else check they meet load rating on the placard on driver door.
Easy to service.
6stacker CD
Fuel economy average for 1.8L.
In a crash, not very good maybe.
When overtaking trucks in rural areas be sure to use hold button(third gear)
Roomy in the front though I've hit my head getting in at 178cm.
Boot is huge in sedan, stroller and lots of shopping fits fine.
Easy to park, turning circle not so good but not a real issue.
Air con when running doesn't affect the engine idle in peak hours etc.
Mine lacks anti lock brakes though I don't mind.
Lacks cruise control which I only need for long trips.
It is our only car. I should have bought a bigger and safer car, but for someone needing it for commute it will be very suitable.
Gearbox is/works great, engine feels New.
On average we use 40 litres fuel every 2 weeks/2 people driving it so we should have bought bigger. Although wife benefited from small size of this car as she was new to driving.


Not the perfect car but close.

I bought my 2001 Protogue last year with 40 thousand on the odo which was a bargain.
Overall, it's a fantastic little car which fills up on $40 but the only issue was no AUX port, I know 2001 is a few years ago but that long ago?


Great car

I bought this car from a private seller who gave me a detailed history, and it was well taken care of. It's the 1999 auto model, though I always forget if its 1.6L or 1.8L. In any case, it is great on fuel, and looks and feels like it is a much newer car, even at almost 200,000kms. I've only ever had a Hyundai Excel before this and the transition was almost luxurious. I agree with other users who say the suspension is a little hard and you need to be cautious going over bumps, and on roads that aren't too smooth it can get quite bumpy and things vibrate at a fairly loud volume around the dash. But along with a pretty large turning circle, those are my only complaints. Plus I need new tyres at the moment, which I have found helps smooth out the ride again.

It's a zippy little car that will do whatever you ask. We drove it from Perth to Newcastle, loaded with as many possessions as we could fit in the back (love the folding back seats!) and on a roof basket, and it EASILY handled over 130km/hr speeds when push came to shove, and cruised on 110 the rest of the way without a single complaint - air conditioning running full blast and all! And the front seats are very comfortable, so driving long distances is a breeze.

All in all... I am very fond of this car, and feel its very reliable.
Looks and feels newer than it is, still running smoothly and efficiently at 200k on the odo, no engine faults or breakdowns so far, comfortable driving, reliable, easy to drive and park
Surprisingly large turning circle, a bit rough on the suspension but nothing major, dash area vibrates a lot on rougher roads


Great reliable town car and packhorse

Cheap to run, easy to park. Only thing that broke in 124000 km was a light bulb. Last service I got timing belt replaced (original one still looked perfect), brakes done (original pads, yes, original pads were finally near the end of their life!). At 124500km I had to replace the clutch. I had a VT Commodore for four years also and it cost three times as much to maintain as my 1.8L Astina did for 10 years plus. I will not be selling it anytime soon. It's still a great little car.
Room for tall people both front and back, reliability, economy and versatility


A joy to own

I bought mine brand new and never had a problem in 9 years. It was the last 323 before they brought out the Mazda 3. It was silver with standard alloy wheels and looked like a much more expensive car than it was.

Interior was classy, comfortable and roomy, and the rear seats fold flat. Performance very good for a small car, very easy to drive and park. Very fuel efficient. Serviced regularly and never had any problems.
Very reliable, comfortable, fuel efficient


Could not fault for the first 100,000 then all downhill

I own a 2001 model Protege and it seemed to be bulletproof reliable. After 100,000kms the problems started and didn't stop until I traded it in.
The cost of fixing minor issues was mind blowing and when the suspension went at 132,000km enough was enough.
Other problems include TX valve going in the AC over $600 to fix and Mazda doesn't stock the part in AUS.
Oil leak at the based of the cam belt. Because oil was on the belt it cost $850 to fix.
Front suspension went and the quote came to $2300.
Minor electrical fault with the interior lights. $280. The list goes on.
Total repair bill over last 30000km came to over $2400 excluding the suspension.
This car was serviced throughout its life at a Mazda dealership, with the servicing cost very high, so I didn't expect these problems.
The car felt as though it would last forever, then something else would break.
Mazda cars drive great, but a don't know if I will go there again following my experience.
Felt great to drive and looked as though it was well built.
Expensive. TX valve in AC went and Madza didn't stock a part in AUS. $600 to fix. Front Suspension $2300


Reliable, lovely little car

My parents bought this for me as my first car at 97,000 km. I had it for two years and got up to almost 130,000 km before I got t-boned and the car was written off. The car never had any issues (except for idling high when I first bought it, the dealership did a tune up and it was fine). A bit powerless when going up hills but did well overtaking over a few long trips - I think learning how to get the power up helps. Reasonable on fuel and easy to park, nice to drive and quite roomy for its size. I was most impressed with how it handled the accident, the rear passenger tyre took the impact, stopping the other car from going halfway into my car. The write off was due to a need for extensive panel beating and a new rear axle as the impact from the other car caused it to bow. I was devastated at the loss of such a reliable and nice car.
Reliable, spacious and solid for size, safe, no problems
Sometimes felt a bit tinny and weak


Oh my little YOGI

3 rd car I've ever had, and the first one I'm so sad to see go. I bought her last year and am now getting a Yaris (I need small).

I would love to keep my YOGI (named after number plate ygi) she's a 2003 323 Protege shades, bought her when she hadnt even done 80,000ks and now traded her in at 95,000 ks.

She's the first car I've had a good connection with, I know it sounds silly, but she has been a beauty to drive, and I'm so upset I'm saying goodbye today.

I thought I needed a small car, but believe me, I now wish I could go back and not have signed that contract, she has been an absolutely beautiful car to drive, an absolute dream, haven't had one problem with her.
Reliable, inexpensive, great on fuel, easy to park, has a bit of power for a small car, such a breeze to drive

BadgeProtege Shades


This is a GREAT car! We love it and will upgrade to a 626/Mazda 6 next (family car). If you are looking for a good value, reliable, good-looking car then you have found it!
This is a very fuel efficient car that holds it's value really well. It's very hardy, not needing big services and the parts are cheap to replace. They also have a very reasonable sized boot and are very comfortable both front & back seats.
You really need to get a manual as they don't have much 'guts' to them and if you had an automatic you'd really find that they don't get going fast. The manual however is fine, we really love our car!

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Questions & Answers

I want to replace the engine in my 1.6L 1999 KN Lxi Ford Laser (Mazda 323) with a 1.6L 2001 KQ Lxi Ford Laser. Both 4 door sedans with 5 speed manual transmission. My brother is coming down to swap the motors over, but hasn't done a fuel injected motor before. What does he need to know when replacing the motor on a fuel injected car, in comparison to a motor that doesn't have fuel injection? He has replaced many motors that weren't fuel injected.
1 answer
You would need to speak to a mechanic in order to have this question answered.

Battery light on any common causes?
No answers

Does my 2002 Mazda 323-82c Protege need to have the airbags replaced?
No answers


Mazda 323
CategoryHatchbacks and Sedans
Release dateJan 1998
Discontinuation dateDec 2002
Replaced byMazda 3

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