Mazda Eunos 800 `Miller Cycle' - style, comfort…and an engine
In 1992 Mazda launched the Eunos marque, cars boasting trim and finish quality so superior to their Mazda cousins that they were given a decidedly upmarket image with separate exclusive dealerships.

But not enough buyers were won over by that prestige so early last year it was announced that Eunos cars would be available through the Mazda dealer network - and wearing Mazda badges.

Despite Mazda’s move to a more conservative look for its mainstream cars, notably including the Mazda 929, the luxury Mazda Eunos 800 so far retains the softly flowing lines that once seemed a company trademark - and most importantly, the premium model 800M kept its innovative "Miller Cycle" engine.

Around $64K will put you on the road in an ‘ordinary’ Mazda-Eunos 800 powered by a 2.5 litre quad-cam V6 with ABS braking, alloy wheels, and a list of luxo-bits that includes auto climate control and power-assisted everything (including the nicely shaped leather-covered seats).

Or for just $9,000 more, you can have all of the above - powered by an engine which has won numerous awards around the world, and is widely regarded as one of the best ever built.

Developed by Mazda from a concept invented in the 1940s by an American naval engineer, the "Miller Cycle" is essentially some very clever valve timing that lowers the compression ratio but maintains a high expansion ratio for maximum efficiency. So unique that it was dubbed on its release in 1994 as "the five stroke engine", it also has what is basically a supercharger, but is called a "Lysholm (lishum) compressor".

In plainer terms, the result is a 2.3 litre engine that produces power and torque normally expected of something over 3.0 litres - but sips fuel like a 2.0 litre.

Put that in a saloon car of understated luxury and you have the 800 Miller Cycle, a car with which you are unlikely to be bored even long after you have become accustomed to it.

Standard equipment in both 800s includes remote locking which, thankfully, does not beep or chirp whenever it is locked/unlocked. It is content to discretely flash its indicators instead of announcing to the neighbours that you have arrived home safely at 3am.


Call it Mazda or call it Eunos, the 800 saloon exudes style.


Everything is close to hand for the driver.


One small badge is the only clue to what lies under the hood.


The engine is the only one of its kind - for now.

The cabin is a pleasant environment with all the plushness expected in this price category, and the driver is particularly well catered for with all controls ideally located and a leather-wrapped steering wheel that is both tilt and reach adjustable, plus a good range of adjustments in the power assisted seats.

Nighttime reveals that its interior light has a comfortably long delay, and night driving is most enjoyable thanks to its rather impressive headlights. The test car had one of the best low-beam settings I have encountered, and a high beam that lit up country roads perfectly.

Low NVH levels are a strength of the 800 with insulation that mutes even the rumble of the coarsest chip bitumen to an acceptable murmer, a subtle rustle of wind around the exterior mirrors - and the engine might scarcely exist in terms of noise, leaving occupants to enjoy the CD stacker and Bose stereo.

But that piece of technological advancement under the hood does make its presence known if prodded vigorously - though even then you may not notice it.

Rather, there is a subtle change in the purring sound from under the hood as the transmission changes down a slot (watching the tachometer helps awareness of it) and the Miller Cycle engine starts to behave like an engine of much larger capacity.

Its peak power and torque arrive at reasonably high rpm, but generous servings of both are available throughout the lower rev range as well, and it surges forward from any speed with an eagerness which at first seems quite unexpected.

But never with the snarl that might be anticipated, just that same silky-smooth purr. Just as well it has cruise control, because it might otherwise endanger your licence. (Seriously - this car has a tendency to creep up to speeds which are definitely frowned on by the constabulary!)

While its luxury saloon aspirations are aimed more at comfort than eyeball-widening pace in corners, the 800M's 4 wheel steering endows it with an agility that makes it easy to control both in city traffic and on the open road, with steering power assistance that retains good `feel’ at higher speeds.

The Eunos 800 is a satisfying car to drive, even in its less costly 2.5 litre V6 form without 4WS, but when powered by the Miller Cycle engine it becomes a bit mystifying - the real mystery is why Mazda has not yet applied it to other engines.

But I can fearlessly reveal that the Eunos 800 Miller Cycle has one drawback - I can't afford one.

 

Nuts-N-Bolts
Engine: V6 2.3 litre (2254 cc), Double OverHead Camshafts with 4 valves per cylinder, electonically controlled fuel injection, with Lysholm compressor and twin intercoolers.
Power: 149kW @ 5,500rpm. Torque: 282Nm @ 4,000rpm.
Transmission: 4-speed automatic with overdrive and "Hold" mode, front wheel drive.
Suspension: Front and rear independent multi-link.
Brakes: 4-wheel discs (front ventilated), with ABS.
Wheels-Tyres: 6 x 15inch alloy - 205/65R15.
Warranty: 3 years/unlimited kms.
Recommended Retail (plus onroads): $72,160.