Celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2020, Mazda has survived and thrived though some turbulent times. One ‘home-run’ model that brought Mazda out of one of these crisis situations was the 5th generation Familia (BD type) that was released 1980.
Inheriting the hatchback body from the previous 4th generation, the revised exterior design embodied clean and fearless styling with linear lines. Functional and sporty interior design featured an electric sunroof, which was rare for this class at the time, and flat-folding front and rear seats with continuous sides that created a "lounge seat".
The Familia was the first Mazda to adopt the horizontal FF layout. In addition to the inline 4-cylinder 1.3/1.5L engine, a 1.5L turbo was also added. With a newly developed platform, the suspension incorporated an advanced 4-wheel strut system, which was considered premium for this class. The SS suspension combined two lower arms and a long trailing arm for rear toe control.
While not extremely fast, its dynamic and sporty concept made it a hit as soon as it was released. In particular, the red "XG" model quipped with an electric sunroof became a social phenomenon with a younger generation of drivers. It also played a role in allowing personal customization such as door mirrors, seat covers, Pioneer audio, aluminum wheels, and aero parts.
The Familia’s popularity was also reflected in the sales numbers. Toyota Corolla and Nissan Sunny, regarded as the top two sellers of the time, were eclipsed in monthly sales on numerous occasions by the Mazda Familia, which also set a world record of 27 months for the shortest time to reach the 1 million cars sold milestone.
The Familia name only exists now in OEM models, however its DNA continues to this day in the 5th generation Axela (Japan) and also the Mazda 3 (international).
Automotive Expert Shinya Yamamoto