When you think of small Japanese cars from the 90s, which cars come to mind? Maybe the Honda CR-X or an NA Mazda Miata. But do you remember the Mazda MX-3? Probably not. We wouldn’t blame you considering it was a small blip in the compact coupe segment back then. But let’s take a look back at Mazda’s quirky coupe.
The Mazda MX-3 had two doors and four seats
In the late 80s and early 90s, many Japanese automakers designed and release sport, fuel-efficient coupes to appease those looking to save gas and have fun at the same time. Nissan had the NX and Hyundai had the Scoupe, so as an answer to those cars, Mazda came out with the MX-3 in 1992.
The Mazda MX-3 was a bit of a hodgepodge because it was a small two-door coupe, like a Honda CR-X, but had the capacity to fit up to four people. Nowadays, that’s not too uncommon considering cars like the Subaru BR-Z have the same configuration but to cram that many people in a wedge-shaped coupe sounds like a tall order.
Regardless, the MX-3 provided its occupants with a clean, but basic interior with plenty of storage room. According to Motorweek, the MX-3’s “cockpit looks like a cockpit,” which means that its interior was driver-focused as well.
The MX-3’s V6 engine might have been one of the smallest ever
Interior aesthetics aside, what made the Mazda MX-3 even more interesting was its optional V6 engine. Now, you would think that a 2,300-pound car with a V6 engine might sound like the perfect recipe for a pocket rocket, but the engine was a little too small to make it a real sleeper on the streets.
The 1.8-liter V6 engine that Mazda stuffed under the hood of the top-trim MX-3 GS produced 130 hp and 115 lb-ft of torque. And while we can all scoff at those power figures, we first need to take into consideration why the automaker would even produce such a small V6 engine.
According to Road and Track, Mazda needed a premium engine for its (failed) Eunos luxury division, but it also needed to keep the displacement below 2,000 cc’s in order to evade extra taxes at the time. The result was this K8 V6 engine that was able to scoot the car from 0 to 60 mph in 8.2 seconds and down the quarter-mile in 16.4 seconds according to Motorweek’s testing.
There was also a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine offered for the lower MX-3 trim levels, which had a power output of 88 hp and 98 lb-ft of torque.
Can you still buy a Mazda MX-3 today?
You can still find a Mazda MX-3 on the used market, however, you’ll need to cross your fingers as they are becoming rarer. We did a search on Autotrader, Cargurus, and Craigslist and came up empty-handed, however, your local area might yield better results.
Regardless, you should be able to find one for less than $10,000. And if you’re into modifying cars, then the MX-3 does have some aftermarket support and can be a good candidate for certain engine swaps as well.