The cars we loved.
The Mazda Lantis was yet another one of those cars I wished was available in the US, but was only for Europe and Japan. Closely related to the 323/Protege (which we did get), the Lantis was the sportiest variant of the CB platform and was offered in many variations ranging from 2 door hatchback to 4 door sedan. The sportiest and most attractive variant was the 5 door hatchback, or 4 door coupe as Mazda called it. It’s designer came from Porsche, which might explain why it sold better in Europe (as the 323F) than in it’s homeland of Japan. 5 door sedans with hatchback functionality were enormously popular in Europe, but not so in other places.
The Lantis was powered by a range of efficent DOHC 4 cylinder engines from 1.5 to 1.8 liters. The top version of the Lantis used a small 2.0 liter V6 that put out an impressive 199 hp! These versions were distinguished from 4 cylinder models by their larger 5 lug wheels and “Lantis V6” badging. In Europe the car was called the 323F Astina. Lantis featured well appointed interiors also with supportive seats and a full compliment of performance guages in a simple driver centered layout.
Mechanically, the Lantis was not much different from other front wheel drive cars on the CB platform with the possible exception to modifications in it’s independent suspension and larger anti roll bars. The sporting nature of the Lantis made it a popular racing car, showing up in events in Europe and Asia. Still sought after by tuners, the Lantis continues to be popular in Europe and parts of Asia.