Sporty/performance car; Built in Japan
  • 2-door hatchback
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,000 – $1,700*


1994 Mazda MX-3


1992 Mazda MX-3 GS


1995 Mazda MX-3


1992 Mazda MX-3 interior


1992 Mazda MX-3 interior

Pros:
  • Acceleration (V6)
  • Optional antilock brakes
  • Fuel economy (4-cylinder)
  • Instruments/controls
  • Steering/handling
Cons:
  • Cargo area liftover
  • Rear-seat room
  • Road noise
  • Wind noise

A slow seller in the highly competitive sport-coupe market, the MX-3 measures up against sport-coupe rivals, but does not quite manage to stand above the crowd.

Overview

Mazda’s front-drive sport coupe was the first in its class with an available V6 engine. The base model used an 88-horsepower 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine. An upmarket GS came with the industry’s smallest V6, a 1.8-liter 24-valve twin-cam packing 130 horsepower. Both engines drove a standard 5-speed manual gearbox or optional 4-speed automatic. Antilock braking was optional only on the 5-speed GS, which halted with all-disc brakes. Base coupes used a vented front-disc/rear-drum setup. The GS also had performance tires on bigger alloy wheels.

Yearly Updates

1993 MX-3
No significant changes were made for 1993.
1994 MX-3
For 1994, the MX-3 had dual airbags, abandoning the old motorized shoulder-belt arrangement. Base-model engines switched to a dual-overhead-cam configuration and gained 17 horsepower, now rated at 105 rather than 88. Antilock braking could now be installed on base models, with either transmission.
1995 MX-3
For its final outing, Mazda’s slow-selling little sport coupe lost its performance version, leaving only the base model with its 1.6-liter engine.

Engines

transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

In 1992-93, the MX-3 came with an 88-horsepower, 1.6-liter overhead-cam engine; or with a twin-cam, 130-horsepower V6 in GS trim. For 1994, the base engine was transformed into a dual-cam design, boosted to 105 horsepower. Only that engine remained for ’95, the MX-3’s last season. A 4-speed automatic transmission was optional, but 5-speed manual shift was standard each year.

dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 1.6/98
Engine HP 105
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 100
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
29/37
25/34
25.3

dohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 1.8/113
Engine HP 130
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 115
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
23/29
20/27
21.2

ohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 1.6/98
Engine HP 88
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 98
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
28/35
25/32

Road Test

Quiet and eager, the tiny V6 engine revs quickly to 3000 rpm but produces little power below that speed. Therefore, it works best with manual shift, which allows the driver more control over engine speed. Gas mileage is less impressive. We got 20 mpg in a GS with automatic. The 4-cylinder engine is another story: short on excitement, especially with automatic–which shifts harshly during hard acceleration. A stronger, smoother twin-cam four went into 1994 models, but it still proved to be no match for the V6.

Tire noise is prominent, and road and wind noise are strong at highway speeds. However, the sport coupe rides with surprising ease for a small, light car, while exhibiting agile handling talents and quick steering response. Braking is consistently short, straight, and stable.

Space is adequate in front for most people, but seats are tight for larger folks. Adults will likely complain about head and leg room in the shaped-for-two back seat. The driving position is low and snug–compared by some to sitting in a bathtub. Clearly marked gauges are easy to see, and controls easy to reach.

Despite nearly horizontal rear-hatch glass, visibility is quite good. The rear hatch opens to reveal a deep cargo area, but liftover is quite high.

Ratings

Model Tested: 1994 Mazda MX-3 GS 5-speed

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 4
40%
Fuel Economy - 7
70%
Ride Quality - 2
20%
Steering/Handling - 7
70%
Quietness - 3
30%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 5
50%
Room/Comfort Front - 4
40%
Room/Comfort Rear - 2
20%
Cargo Room - 2
20%

Other

Value - 4
40%

Total: 40

Specifications

2-door hatchback
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
96.3 165.7 66.7 51.6
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
36.6 13.2 4
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.2 33.9 42.6 31.1
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1993 MX-3 2-door hatchback

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 3
60%
Front Passenger Injury - 3
60%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision 207
Injury 169
Theft 69

Trouble Spots

Clutch
Description: The original-equipment clutch on some models tends to squeal when the pedal is depressed. (1992-94)
Doors
Description: The door locks tend to ingest water in car washes or when parked outside, which leads to frozen locks in the winter. (1992-94)
Engine noise
Description: A problem with the camshaft friction gear causes a metallic tapping noise. (1992-94)
Hard starting
Description: Cars with the K8 engine are hard to start in sub-zero weather. (1992-93)
Seat
Description: Due to poor quality fabric, the rear seat cushions separate at the seams. (1992-93)
Trunk latch
Description: The trunk hinges tend to wear and break over time. (1992-95)
Trunk latch
Description: The rear hatch hinges rattle. (1993)

Recall History

1992-93
Description: Rail of automatic shoulder belt can wear, so cable becomes jammed in the rail.
1992-95 in 19 states and D.C.
Description: Large quantity of road salt can cause corrosive pits to develop on surface of front coil spring, eventually leading to possible breakage.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.