Used Mazda 626 Hatchback 1997 - 2002 review

Category: Family car

It's puts dependability above everything else - it's all competence and no sparkle

Used Mazda 626 Hatchback 1997 - 2002
  • Used Mazda 626 Hatchback 1997 - 2002
  • Used Mazda 626 Hatchback 1997 - 2002
Used Mazda 626 Hatchback 1997 - 2002 review
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Steve Huntingford
Published01 January 2006

What's the used Mazda 626 hatchback like?

There is nothing exciting or inspiring about a 626, but it will give years of dependable, efficient and inexpensive service.

It's not a looker, inside or out. However, that cabin is efficient, durable, reasonably well equipped and space is average for the class. The luggage area, too, is perfectly adequate; although, naturally, this hatch is more practical than its saloon sister.


It's puts dependability above everything else - it's all competence and no sparkle

  • The 626 is a hard-wearing, reliable family motor with a no-nonsense cabin
  • It's pretty dull to drive

The engines aren't bad, either - and they're positively good if your doctor recommends a steady-state-pulse kind of life. He or she won't approve of the stress caused on your spine by the firm ride, though.

And, ultimately, that's the real trouble with the 626 - after all its other qualities, the drive is a real let-down. The gearshift is inaccurate, the clutch hair-trigger and the throttle very sensitive. There's plenty of wind and road noise at speed, too.

Ownership cost

What used Mazda 626 hatchback will I get for my budget?

How much does it cost to run a Mazda 626 hatchback?

If you're sold on the idea of anonymous but practical, trustworthy family transport, the low sticker price on the 626's windscreen will scream out at you from the forecourt.

It's also likely to be cheap to run. Even if you end up with a (rare as hen's teeth) rogue one, you should be okay. Mazdas are among the very cheapest cars to fix, according to Warranty Direct. And, when the routine services come around every 9000 miles/12 months, they're reasonably priced, even at franchised dealers.

All models will be wallet-friendly at the pumps, too. The three petrol engines should average mid-30s to the gallon with sensible, everyday use and the turbodiesel is capable of nudging 50mpg.

Insurance renewal won't drain your bank account, either. The 1.8 is cheapest at group 8, and the turbodiesel is in group 9, one below our favoured 113bhp 2.0 petrol. The more powerful 2.0 sits in group 13.

Our recommendations

Which used Mazda 626 hatchback should I buy?

There are three body styles in the 626 range - hatchback, saloon and estate - and this practical hatch is the best of the bunch.

For the perfect combination, we recommend you go for the less powerful (and cheaper) of the two 2.0-litre petrol engines. The 113bhp motor is just as refined as the 136bhp version and does a decent enough job of hauling the 626 around.

By comparison, the 90bhp 1.8 petrol just hasn't got enough grunt, and even the 99bhp 2.0 turbodiesel isn't up to the job. Mind you, even if it was, we wouldn't be able to put up with its rattling.

There was a face-lift in early 2000, but you'd struggle to notice it, so don't worry about desperately trying find the newer car. However, for the record, it brought in a new grille, redesigned tail-lights and a two-tone interior, while the Sport model gained black wood inserts, two-tone leather wheel and white dials.

All models do well for kit and most have air-con, four airbags, anti-lock brakes and traction control.


What alternatives should I consider to a used Mazda 626 hatchback?