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What Car? says

2 out of 5 stars

For It's cheap to buy and you'll get lots of kit

Against It looks a bit odd and the engines struggle

Verdict Useful space, but the Demio is a poor drive

Go for… 1.3 GXi

Avoid… 1.5 GSi

Mazda Demio Hatchback
  • 1. If the car has only been used for short trips, look at the exhaust carefully. It can rust through in just two years
  • 2. Some owners have reported a rattling sunroof, so keep an eye out for that on your test drive
  • 3. There's lots of head-, leg- and shoulder room in any seat and the interior quality is pretty good
  • 4. The cambelt needs to be changed after 60,000 miles or five years, so if the car is older than that, check it's been done
  • 5. The boot capacity isn't class-leading, but it can be increased by folding the split rear seat
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Mazda Demio Hatchback full review with expert trade views

Lots of superminis built from the late-90s ownwards, even those with a tall, MPV-like design like the Demio's, were good fun to drive. This model, however, falls woefully short of the standards set by some of its rivals.

The handling is poor because the body leans too much in corners, the steering is stodgy, and the ride is just as bad. Bumps of all sizes jolt into the cabin and the lumpy motorway ride is accompanied by excessive amounts of noise.

That's all pretty damning, but the truth is, apart from that, the Demio isn't too bad. There's lots of head-, leg- and shoulder room in any seat and the interior quality is pretty good.

Although the boot isn't class-leading, you can increase its capacity by folding the split rear seat. But, unlike the Toyota Yaris's, those rear seats can't be lifted out completely.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Few sold new so these are rare. Values stable. Special edition models are best value

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

There's a simple choice of two engines: a 63bhp 1.3-litre petrol engine or a 1.5-litre petrol that knocks out a slightly healthier 74bhp. As you'd expect, the 1.5 is a little quicker, shaving a second off the smaller engine's 0-60mph sprint time. However, both feel too sluggish in just about any situation, so save your money and stick with the cheaper 1.3.

The 1.3 comes in three trims – Standard, LXi and GXi. All cars made before 2000 were in Standard trim and came with power steering, alloys, electric windows, driver's airbag and electric sunroof. After 2000, LXi became the base, with power steering and a height-adjustable driving seat. GXi models added central locking, an alarm and electric windows, but for our money, LXi is the best combination of kit and cost.

The 1.5 comes only in GSi form. You'll get an electric sunroof, remote central locking and anti-lock brakes but, as we say, it's not worth the expense.

However, the latest 2001 models all came with remote central locking, twin front and side airbags and anti-lock brakes as standard, so they're worth looking out.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Few around, revised model from 2000 better 1.3 GXi with anti-lock

James Ruppert
Used car guru

Considering how big the Demio was in comparison with other superminis, it was never a very expensive new car. And, now that you can take advantage of the distinctly unspectacular residual values, used prices are extremely keen, to say the least. We recommend the older versions that can be picked up for a fraction of what buyers of the new car would have paid.

Running costs aren't bad, but they're not quite as spectacularlylow. The 1.3 will return an average of 40.3mpg, but the 1.5 will manage only 38.7mpg. That's not great for the class.

Insurance costs fall into the same category. Buying the 1.3 will earn you a group 3 classification, while the 1.5 is in group 4. Again, this isn't outrageous, but considering the limited power of the two engines, it isn't terrific, either.

We don't expect owners to do particularly high mileages, so the service intervals of 9000 miles are reasonably palatable, and should help to keep maintenance costs down.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Few sold new so these are rare. Values stable. Special edition models are best value

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

One look at our regular reliability surveys will show you that, when it comes to mechanical dependability, Mazda is tough to beat. And, the Demio has done nothing to harm this excellent reputation: it's one of Mazda's most reliable cars of this age, so buyers can rely on bullet-proof dependability.

However, there are a couple of things to watch out for. If the car has only been used for short trips, look at the exhaust carefully, as it can rust through in as little as two years. Some owners have also reported a rattling sunroof, so keep an eye out for that on your test drive.

Finally, bear in mind that the cambelt needs to be changed after 60,000 miles or five years. So, if the car is older than that, check that the work has been done. And, if the car you're looking at is coming up to that mileage, remember to include the cost of the work in your budget.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Few around, revised model from 2000 better 1.3 GXi with anti-lock

James Ruppert
Used car guru
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