Mazda Demio (1998 – 2002) Review

Mazda Demio (1998 – 2002) At A Glance


+Versatile rear seat arrangement. A more nimble, enjoyable drive from 2000 onwards.

-Short of some convenience and comfort features. Original version was slow and stodgy to drive.

Mazda’s new-for-1998 supermini, and a replacement for the 121. In styling terms it was much closer to the original 121 than the oddball and bulbous model that replaced it, with a traditional boxy hatchback body. The name was derived from the Spanish ‘de mio’, meaning ‘it’s mine’.

Where it differed from more traditional rivals, though, was in its packaging. While the Demio was never really marketed as a lifestyle vehicle in the UK, it has a raised ride height and built-in bull-bar (certainly on early examples) that give it the appearance of a miniature Subaru Forester and aimed at younger buyers.

With the back seats folded flat, it was designed to fit two mountain bikes without their front wheels removed, whilst for more spontaneous outdoor types, both rows of seats could be fully reclined and folded into a double bed. Think of it as Japan’s answer to the Austin Maxi, but with better reliability and a pleasurable gearbox, without a long spindly knob that would get in the way of a good night’s sleep.