Mazda Eunos 30X - the sports car that deserves to live
There can be no doubt that Mazda, which has brought us some classic sports cars from the MX5 to the RX7, is moving back to a `safer' school of automotive design.

First the flagship 929 saloon, and now the recently-unveiled new 626, have taken a walk on the mild side in a show of conservatism that some fear could spell the end of Mazda sports cars – but surely not the Eunos 30X.

This baby of Mazda’s brief foray into upmarket brand names, now wearing `Mazda’ badges, remains a good example of just how enjoyable the right engine in the right bodyshell can be.

There have never been any complaints about the appearance of the 30X, with the curvy look that is widely regarded as a Mazda `signature'.

With standard air conditioning, driver's airbag, power steering, power windows-mirrors, ABS braking and alloy wheels, it is fairly well equipped but was not designed for tall people; it lacks legroom both front and rear, has no tilt adjustment to the steering, and trying to compensate by raking the seat back makes every major control seem just a few millimetres further away than is really comfortable.

Other negatives include no delay at all on the interior light, only one vanity mirror (uncovered) for the passenger, a hatch whose lip is a bit high for comfortable loading, and a rather `un-sporty' plastic steering wheel.

Sweetly curved; 30X is the 'baby' of the
Mazda Eunos family

Dashboard layout is classic 'sportscar'

At 1.8 litres, the smallest production V6

But those details are quickly forgotten when the engine starts working.

Ah yes, the engine; Double OverHead Camshafts activating four valves per cylinder and electronically fuel injected - in the smallest production V6 available at just 1.8 litres.

Not a case of cramming an oversize lump of metal into a small car, as the V6 was designed for the 30X – or perhaps it was the other way around.

The little V6 is a delight when its rpm reaches higher levels of existence, which is just as well since it seems to constantly rev about 1,000 rpm higher than most cars, yet appears quite happy to spend its time in the stratosphere.

Vigorous pedalling induces a smooth surge of acceleration, accompanied by an exhilarating wail from under the hood as the V6 finds its feet, and the gearshift adds to the enjoyment with its precise action.

A surprising aspect of 30X is its cornering behaviour, as it displays little of the understeer expected of a front-wheel-drive car; even on wet roads, it turns into corners quite smartly.

Braking ability won me over as well, the 4-wheel discs with ABS having a nice progressive feel to the pedal without the `doughiness' often associated with antilock braking.

Couple all that with nimble handling that makes a `twisty bits' road something to be anticipated, and the result is a truly enjoyable sports coupe that deserves to survive.

But anyone with a fondness for sports cars should avoid the Mazda Eunos 30X.

Self-denial is supposed to be good for the soul.

Engine:1.8 litre (1845cc) V6. Electronic fuel injection.
Power/Torque: 99kW @ 6500rpm/159Nm @ 4500rpm.
Transmission: Five speed manual or optional 4-speed auto.
Suspension: MacPherson struts with coil springs at all corners.
Steering: Power assisted rack and pinion.
Brakes: Front and rear discs (front ventilated), with ABS.
Wheels-Tyres: 6x15in alloy - 205/55R15
Warranty:Three years/80,000km
Recommended Retail:$35,250 (manual), $37,045 (4-speed auto) plus onroads.