OPINION | Look at me now! How the Mazda Astina went from unattractive standalone to trim level beauty
I'm sure most people will agree that the 323 Astina was one of the most unattractive cars Mazda ever produced. With that said, nothing can topple the Fiat Multipla.
Mazda thought they could renew the love affair motorists had with earlier 323 EGI's by introducing the Astina sedan back in the late '90s. What a failure that proved to be.
In my opinion, it's looks, and design offered nothing to the customer, only the real Mazda die-hards could find some plausible reason to buy it when a Nissan Sentra was clearly the better vehicle to buy.
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It wasn't very fast, either. South Africa received 1.5, 1.6 and 1.8-litre engines configurations locally that pushed out power figures between 64 and 85kW.
As times and technology changed, Mazda scrapped the 323 and 626 names entirely and started to focus on building sustainable cars for the future. This change in vision gave rise to the '3' and '6' models, numbers effectively taken from its predecessors.
These days, the Astina name is used to describe the trim level of current '3' and '6' models. Where once it was its own standalone car, now finds its home as Mazda's top of the range spec.
A different type of Astina
Maybe it was a case of running out of trim level names or simply to attach the Astina name to a model somehow but it fits in just fine with the new kids on the block.
Image: Chad Gallant
Besides offering more speed from its 2.0-litre engine pushing 121kW, the list of luxuries and extra options are endless. Each car that comes out of the factory has the brand's signature Kodo Soul of Motion woven into its design.
The Mazda 3 Astina changes your whole outlook of what it used to be. Once upon a time, it was unappealing and slow, now it finds itself on the opposite end of the spectrum.
Just like Mitsubishi did with reviving the Eclipse, who knows, maybe Mazda will follow the direction and give the Astina a new lease on life.
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