Mazda 626

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Mazda 626
1988 Mazda 626 sedan LX (US)
ManufacturerMazda
AutoAlliance International
Production1979–2002
PredecessorMazda 616/618
SuccessorMazda Atenza/Mazda6
ClassEurope: Large family car
North America:
Compact (1977-1987)
Mid-size (1988-2002)

The Mazda 626 was an automobile produced by Mazda for the export market. It was based on the Japan-market Mazda Capella. The 626 replaced the 616/618 and RX-2 in 1979 and was sold through 2002, when the new Mazda6 took over as Mazda's large family car. 4,345,279 of the 626 and Ford Telstar models were sold worldwide.

The 626 was also sold as the Ford Telstar in Asia, Australasia and Southern Africa, but this has been replaced by the European-sourced Ford Mondeo. While in Europe it was always considered a large family car, in North America the first two generations of the 626 were compact cars, and the third, fourth and fifth were mid-size cars.

Predecessors

The 1971 model 616 and 1972 model 618 had been modest successes in the United States, each lasting just a single year. By 1980, the American public was ready for a compact piston-engined Mazda, and the 626 has been a top seller for the marque ever since.

1979

Mark 1
1980 Mazda 626
Production1979–1982
AssemblyHiroshima, Japan
Body style(s)2-door coupe
4-door sedan
LayoutFR layout
Engine(s)2.0 L F/MA I4
Transmission(s)5-speed manual
3-speed automatic
Wheelbase98.8 in (2510 mm)
Length173.8 in (4415 mm)
RelatedMazda Capella
Mazda Montrose

The first Mazda 626 appeared in most markets in 1979. It was a front engined rear wheel drive compact, little changed from the Japan-market Mazda Capella on which it was based. With an 80 hp (60 kW) 2.0 L SOHC straight-4 F/MA engine, it performed well, with both Consumer Guide and Car and Driver magazines comparing it with a BMW. One innovative feature was a split-folding rear seat, which increased cargo capacity and flexibility tremendously. This first 626 was a hit, doubling Mazda's US sales.

The passenger cabin, and therefore the doors are shared with the contemporary 323, a design feature that lasted into the mid 1980's for both car designs.

The 626, like the Capella, used MacPherson struts in front with a four-link solid axle with coil springs in back. Five-speed manual and three-speed automatic transmission versions were produced, but the recirculating ball steering was something of a throwback in the class. The twin barrel-carb engine was down to 75 hp (56 kW) in 1980, and a wide grille was introduced for 1981.

Model Years Engine Power Torque
All 1979 2.0 L F/MA I4 80 hp (60 kW)
1979–1982 2.0 L F/MA I4 75 hp (55 kW)

1983

Mark 2
1984 Mazda 626 sedan (UK)
Production1983–1987
AssemblyHiroshima, Japan
Hofu, Japan
Bogotá, Colombia
Body style(s)2-door coupe
4-door sedan
5-door hatchback
LayoutFF layout
PlatformMazda GC platform
Engine(s)2.0 L FE I4
2.0 L FET I4
Transmission(s)5-speed manual
3-speed automatic
4-speed automatic
Wheelbase98.8 in (2510 mm)
Length177.8 in (4516 mm)
RelatedFord Telstar
Mazda Capella

The front-wheel drive model appeared in 1983 with the GC platform. It was named Import Car of the Year by Motor Trend magazine and Car of the Year by Wheels magazine for 1983. The new 2.0 L FE engine was up to 83 hp (62 kW) for the North American market. In other regions including Finland, the 626 offered 101 hp (75 kW) with a twin barrel carburetor. The rear suspension was now independent, and though the wheelbase remained the same as the previous model, it was an entirely different car. A SOHC non-turbo diesel 2.0 L RF 66 hp (49 kW) engine was made available; twenty examples were imported officially into Australia from 1983 to 1987.

A 626 GT (also called the Turbo) was introduced in 1986 using the 120 hp (89 kW) and 150 lb·ft (203 N?m) FET engine. The rest of the line got a new front clip with dual (rather than quad) headlights and an entirely new interior, and fuel injection on the base engine meant 93 hp (69 kW). A new four-speed automatic was introduced for 1987, the last year of this series.

Model Years Engine Power Torque
Base 1983–1985 2.0 L FE I4 83 hp (61 kW)
1986–1987 2.0 L FE I4 93 hp (69 kW)
Diesel 1984–1987 2.0 L RF I4 66 hp (49 kW)
Finland Etc 198?–1987 2.0 L FE I4 101 hp (75 kW)
GT 1986–1987 2.0 L FET I4 120 hp (89 kW) 150 ft?lbf (203 N?m)

1988

Mark 3
1991-1992 Mazda 626 hatchback (North America)
Also calledFord Telstar
Production1988–1992
AssemblyFlat Rock, Michigan, United States
Hiroshima, Japan
Hofu, Japan
Bogotá, Colombia
Body style(s)4-door sedan
5-door hatchback
LayoutFF layout
PlatformMazda GD platform
Engine(s)2.2 L F2 I4
2.2 L F2T I4
Transmission(s)5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
Wheelbase101.4 in (2576 mm)
Length179.3 in (4554 mm)
Width66.5 in (1690 mm)
HeightHatchback: 54.1 in (1375 mm)
Sedan: 55.5 in (1410 mm)
RelatedMazda MX-6
Mazda Capella

The 626 was updated for 1988 on the GD platform also used by the previous-year Capella. It was available as a sedan and 5-door hatchback while the coupe was renamed MX-6. The MX-6 was built in Michigan alongside its platform-mate, the Ford Probe at AutoAlliance International, while the 626 was still a Japanese import.

Consumer response was strong, and Car and Driver magazine named the 626 and MX-6 in their Ten Best list for 1988.

Engines were new, though still emphasized torque rather than horsepower. The base model now used Mazda's 110-horsepower 2.2 L 3-valve SOHC F2 producing just 6 hp (4.5 kW) shy of the old Turbo, and the new Turbo was up to 145 hp (108 kW). European versions used 1.6, 1.8, 2.0 and 2.2 (non-turbo) engines. GT model had 2.0 FE-DOHC engine that produced 148 (non-cat) or 140hp (cat).

4-wheel-steering was introduced to the 626 Turbo in 1988 (to mixed reviews) and was transferred to the MX-6 Turbo a year later. It was not very successful and died after 1990, never to be seen on a Mazda again. Mazda's system was electronic and more complex than the 4WS system introduced by Honda on the 1988 Prelude; these two marked the first 4WS systems for the American market.

The 626 line was facelifted for 1990 and gained motorized seatbelts in the USA market. 626 hatchbacks disappeared after 1991 from the US Mazda model range.

UK trim levels were LX (1.8-litre), GLX (1.8/2.0) and GT (2.0/2.2). There was also a 2.0i estate model with either 8v, 12v or 16v engine.

Model Years Engine Power Torque
Base 1988–1992 2.2 L F2 I4 115 hp (86 kW) 130 lb·ft (176 N·m)
GT 1988–1992 2.2 L F2T I4 turbo 145 hp (108 kW) 190 lb·ft (258 N·m)
GT Europe and Asia 1988–1992 2.0 L FE-DOHC I4 140/148 hp (103/108 kW)

1993

Mark 4
1993-1995 Mazda 626 (US)
Also calledMazda 626 Cronos
Ford Telstar
Production1993–1997
AssemblyFlat Rock, Michigan, United States
Hiroshima, Japan
Hofu, Japan
Bogotá, Colombia
Body style(s)4-door sedan
5-door hatchback
LayoutFF layout
PlatformMazda GE platform
Engine(s)2.0 L F I4
2.5 L KL V6
Transmission(s)5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
Wheelbase102.8 in (2610 mm)
Length184.4 in (4684 mm)
Width68.9 in (1750 mm)
Height1993-95: 53.9 in (1370 mm)
1996-97: 55.1 in (1400 mm)
RelatedMazda MX-6
Mazda Cronos
Ford Probe

In 1993 the Mazda 626 saw big changes in body style and powerplants since the 626 moved to an entirely different platform. It was now based on the GE platform along with Mazda's more upmarket Cronos and had grown enough to become a mid-size car. The 626 was again Wheels magazine's Car of the Year for a second time in 1992. The very first 1993 Mazda 626 was assembled in Flat Rock, Michigan on September 1, 1992. The car was known as the 626 Cronos in Canada, but dropped the Cronos for the 1996 model year.

Changes like new transmissions were designed to give the car more of a "sports car" feel, and production was moved to AutoAlliance International alongside the MX-6 and Ford Probe. This, and the car's component sources, allowed the 626 to be certified as the first official Japanese-branded domestic car. The wagon and hatchback models were dropped for the US market but retained elsewhere alongside the sedan.

Mazda's 2.5L V6 engine (enlarged from the 1.8L V6 on the 1992 MX-3) debuted to rave reviews. Though the manual transmission was highly regarded, 4-cylinder 626s from 1994 onwards used Ford's CD4E automatic transmission, which quickly became known for its extremely high failure rate. All 626 automatic transmissions, meanwhile, continued the previous generation 626's habits of ill-timed shifts and indecisive kickdowns. Also in 1994, a passenger's-side airbag was added, and the V6 spread to the LX trim in addition to the ES. A chrome grille surround was new for 1996, but disappeared on lower-level models for 1997.

In Colombia the car was named 626 Matsuri to differentiate from the past version that was sold in the same time.

Model Years Engine Power Torque
European 1993–1997 1.8 L F I4 104 hp (77 kW) 127 lb·ft
Base 1993–1997 2.0 L FS I4 118 hp (87 kW) 127 lb·ft
V6 1993–1997 2.5 L KL V6 164 hp (123 kW) 160 lb·ft

1998

Mark 5
2000-2002 Mazda 626 LX (US)
Also calledFord Telstar
Production1998–2002
AssemblyFlat Rock, Michigan, United States
Hiroshima, Japan
Hofu, Japan
Bogotá, Colombia
Body style(s)4-door sedan
LayoutFF layout
PlatformMazda GF platform
Engine(s)1.8 L F I4 (Europe)
2.0 L F I4
2.5 L KL V6
Transmission(s)5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
Wheelbase105.1 in (2670 mm)
Length1998-99: 186.8 in (4745 mm)
2000-02: 187.4 in (4760 mm)
Width69.3 in (1760 mm)
Height55.1 in (1400 mm)
RelatedMazda Capella

1998 brought the fifth-generation 626, now on the GF platform. North American 626's were again built by AutoAlliance International in Flat Rock, Michigan. Its MX-6 and Ford Probe derivations were gone.

From 1997 through 1999 the 626 was given an engine overhaul to give it better pedal feel. However, as most car reviews will attest, it was a bland vehicle with softer handling and fewer features than the 1993–1997 version. Front side airbags were new options for 2000, as were larger wheels, four wheel discs (except on the LX), and rear heat ducts. The four cylinder engine was also uprated by 5 hp (3.7 kW).

The final Mazda 626 rolled off the Flat Rock, Michigan assembly plant on August 30, 2002.

In Colombia the car was built until 2006 replaced by Mazda 6.

Model Years Engine Power Torque
Europe 1998–2002 1.8 L F I4 100 hp (74 kW)
Base 1998–1999 2.0 L F I4 130 hp (97 kW)
2000–2002 2.0 L F I4 135 hp (101 kW)
V6 1998–2002 2.5 L KL V6 170 hp (126 kW) 190 lb·ft (221 N·m)

2003

Main article: Mazda 6

The 626/Capella was replaced with the GG platform Mazda6 (called the Atenza in Japan) in 2002. The Mazda6 is now sold across the world in 3 different body styles: 4-door Sedan, 5-door Hatchback and 5-door Wagon. World sales have been good for the 6 despite a slower take off in North America, and resale value has proven to be far stronger than the 626's.

Few would disagree that this is a vast improvement over the 626 in terms of interior room, styling, or powertrains. Mazda's new 4-cylinder is a much-improved 2.3 L 4 with 160 hp (119 kW); the V6 is a 3.0-liter 220 hp (164 kW) unit from the Ford Taurus, but with reworked cylinders, valvetrain components, and variable valve timing. Though not the fastest with either engine, the 6 is still the most agile of its peers by a long shot, thanks in part to its new double-wishbone front suspension. Wagon and 5-door hatchbacks were added for 2004, and the Mazda6's platform served as the basis for the 2006 Ford Fusion, Lincoln Zephyr/MKZ and Mercury Milan.

The first Mazda6 rolled off the Flat Rock, Michigan assembly line on October 1, 2002, one month after production of the 626 ended.

References

External links