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Mazda 121 (1987 - 1991)

Last updated 20 August 2013

Cheap to run, potentially reliable
Rust, apathy, not likely to attain classic status any time soon


The first generation Mazda 121 has an interesting history. It was actually launched as the Ford Festiva and was designed and built by Mazda as an entry-level supermini aimed specifically at Asian markets. Interestingly, it was not sold as a Mazda in its home market. It was launched in Ford form in 1986, but was soon sold in overseas territories as both the Mazda 121, and as the Kia Pride. Typically for a car engineered by Mazda, it was soundly engineered, with rack and pinion steering, independent front suspension with struts, coil springs and sway bar, and a torsion beam rear suspension, and Mazda's own ohc 1138cc and 1323cc engines.

Arrived in the UK in 1987, and was sold as the company's supermini challenger, priced to compete with the Austin Metro and Citroen AX. Trim levels were L and LX, with an SR version also available in the UK, and a full-length Webasto-style fabric sunroof was also offered. The Mazda variant was discontinued in 1991, but Brits would soon see it again as the KIA Pride, launched here in 1993 (and in production in Korea since 1986). Also built in Iran and China - so it's far more likely you'll see one on an exotic holiday than you ever will at home.

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