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THE AUTOMOTIVE COLUMN

Mazda 626 GLX excites middle age professionals looking for class

Introduced in Slovakia in 1992, the middle-class Mazda 626 is a solid seller. In 1996, 299 of them were sold, making it the fourth best selling car in its class. The 626 vies for market share with the Daewoo Espero, VW Passat, Renault Laguna, and Opel Vectra. As of June, 1997 sales of the 626 in Slovakia are climbing past 200.
According to Norbert Hirtl, Technical Director at Auto Palace Slovakia in Bratislava, the Mazda authorized importer, sales of the 626 were originally targeted to owners of small companies. Today, mostly middle management people in the 35-50 year-old age category buy them.
Turning on the ignition, I immediately knew I was in a Japanese car. The 626 emits that tell-tale refined purr, suggesting that all engine parts are working together in a well engineered harmony. Gear shifting is smooth and easy, and the 2.0-liter engine delivers a respectable amount pull and power. The acceleration is not dramatic, but good for a car its size.



Introduced in Slovakia in 1992, the middle-class Mazda 626 is a solid seller. In 1996, 299 of them were sold, making it the fourth best selling car in its class. The 626 vies for market share with the Daewoo Espero, VW Passat, Renault Laguna, and Opel Vectra. As of June, 1997 sales of the 626 in Slovakia are climbing past 200.

According to Norbert Hirtl, Technical Director at Auto Palace Slovakia in Bratislava, the Mazda authorized importer, sales of the 626 were originally targeted to owners of small companies. Today, mostly middle management people in the 35-50 year-old age category buy them.

Turning on the ignition, I immediately knew I was in a Japanese car. The 626 emits that tell-tale refined purr, suggesting that all engine parts are working together in a well engineered harmony. Gear shifting is smooth and easy, and the 2.0-liter engine delivers a respectable amount pull and power. The acceleration is not dramatic, but good for a car its size.

On the highway, the 626 is stable and a fine cruising car. It offers a quiet ride, with most of the roadway's clamor staying outside. The car's suspension handles road imperfections nicely. For a medium-sized car, the 626 is easy to handle and maneuver around city streets. Braking is firm and smooth.

The standard rack and pinion power assist steering, however, is a bit too powerful and oversteering can be a problem. The car doesn't offer good driver to road sensitivity. Corners can be taken at high speed but the car will wander if the driver is not vigilant. The car doesn't pull you into turns.

The 626 is roomy for both the driver and passengers. The seats are comfortable and would be fine for long trips. Up front, there's plenty of knee room and good head room. A standard adjustable steering wheel is a welcome, comfort enhancing feature. In back, two adults will sit quite happily. The back seats are split and can be folded down to accommodate large items in the trunk. Interior styling is basic and attractive. The dashboard and control panel layout is simple and easy to use. The fabrics and materials used in the passenger compartment are good quality and appealing.

Standard equipment on the 626 GLX includes driver and passenger air bags, anti-lock brake system, door safety guards, immobiliser, tachometer, inside adjustable outside mirrors, and natural leather steering wheel covering. Sales of a new 626 model will begin in August. "We're waiting for the new models," said Hirtl. He added that the primary difference from the old model 626 will be body styling changes. A price for the new 626 has not yet been set for Slovakia.


Jeffrey Jones is editor-in-chief of the Central Europe Automotive Report.


Information Box

Total Displacement:1,991 cm3
Maximum Speed: 200 km/hour
Length:4,685 mm
Body width: 1,750 mm
Trunk space: 455 liters
Engine:2.0 liter, 85kw
Price:674,000 Sk (tax incl.)
urban cycle: 5.9 liters/100 km
highway:7.7 liters/100 km
combination:9.6 liters/100 km

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