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History of Craft Spirit

Great Cars of Mazda

Familia Part 4: (Sixth- to ninth-generation models)

The sixth-generation Familia refined and evolved the COTY award-winning previous model

The sixth-generation Familia (Mazda 323) debuted in January 1985. It was developed to be a "global, high quality family car." This generation of Familia was given sporty and distinctive styling based around a trapezoid shape, and achieved world-class aerodynamics with its smooth ‘flush surfaces’ design. The new model was also engineered with a highly rigid body, and because this was unusual in the car industry at that time, the Familia model gained recognition around the world.


Sixth-generation Familia The model range was also expanded. As part of plans for full-scale participation in the World Rally Championship, a full-time 4WD version was added—the first such car in Japan. The vehicle setup was also made highly adjustable to enable the Familia to cope with extreme road conditions. Then in 1986, a four-seat open-top cabriolet model was also introduced to the lineup. The cabriolet, which featured a roll bar and a manually operated retractable roof, preceded the RX-7 Cabriolet and the Mazda Roadster (MX-5).

The popular seventh-generation included a new five-door hatchback model — The Astina

The seventh-generation Familia range, launched in 1989, included a three-door hatchback, a four-door sedan, and a new five-door hatchback called the Astina. Featuring a sleek bonnet and pop-up headlights, it possessed unique styling and became especially popular in Europe. The Astina was a clean break from standard five-door hatchbacks.


In the United States, the four-door sedan was sold as the Protégé. Powered by a large 1,800cc engine, it became a core model in the US market.

The eighth-generation Familia aimed to create a new global standard for small cars.
The ninth-generation provided a fitting finale for the Familia.

As the 21st century approached, consumers' values began to diversify, and public attention  turned toward the environment. Amid these changing circumstances, the eighth-generation (1994) and ninth-generation (1998) Familia models were developed to be the ideal small car for contemporary times. With a product concept of "Best Compact," the eighth-generation Familia was completely remodeled, offering enhanced comfort, safety and driving performance. Taking a new direction, Mazda's engineers also sought to optimize its packaging, which resulted in a spacious interior. The eighth-generation also deserves to be remembered as the model which took total Familia production past the 10 million-unit milestone.


The ninth-generation Familia was intended to maximize driver enjoyment. It was developed to be the first of a new genre of cars that were perfectly suited to drivers who are young at heart. Sharing a chassis with the premium class Capella, the last generation of Familia featured a compact-yet-spacious interior. It was the first Mazda to be powered by an engine with sequential valve timing. It was also the first model to be developed using the Mazda Digital Innovation (MDI) computer-based design software. The newly introduced five-door S-Wagon model provided outstanding practicality. It was the first model in its class to offer sliding rear seats, and it also featured "Space Up Seats" that could fold away or even become a table.


For many years, the Familia was firmly at the core of Mazda's business. The ninth-generation closed the book on nearly four decades of Familias* that helped make Mazda a household name around the world.


* The Familia Van is still sold in Japan. It is produced as an OEM model by Nissan.