Brochure du jour: 1998 Mazda Xedos 9 Miller

Three years: that’s how long this car lasted in the market. It’s broadly a Mazda 929 with a different (and longer badge) and an unusual Miller-cycle 2.3 litre V6 supercharged engine.

2001 Mazda Xedos 9 Miller
2001 Mazda Xedos 9 Miller

Nothing if not responsive to the caprices and whims of our dear readers, I dug out this little nugget to satisfy those who have been stalking the Miller engine lately. The photo is not as good as a scan but then again I avoided a walk to my local print shop and all the tedium that would entail. Pistonheads wrote about the car here. It can be considered a BMW 5-series competitor but is somewhat larger. The rounded forms conceal the bulk.

There are 70 Xedos cars on sale at mobile.de: Most are the 6; few are 9s. The cheapest Xedos 9 is 550 euros and only has 168,000 km on the odometer. Frankly, that’s a steal. Most of these cars are under a thousand euros. What’s not to like?  Some could point to the styling. I say it’s smooth, refined and elegant. The only thing Honest John can find to say about the car that is not positive is that “it is unremarkable to look at” and pre-1997 cars don’t handle so well. After our month of things Japanese, I have a new appreciation for their approach to design. Actually, the Xedos is rather handsome and restrained and I challenge anyone to say its restraint is less acceptable than an Audi A6 of similar vintage. The other thing Honest John says is that the cars are proving rather reliable.

I didn’t say much about Miller-cycle engines. Blame James May for that.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

7 thoughts on “Brochure du jour: 1998 Mazda Xedos 9 Miller”

  1. The 90ies were a period of very round japanese cars with a lot of round and oval parts. Maybe the Mazda MX-5 did start this period, but i am not really sure about that. Anyhow, they are creating cars that look different and really modern and distinctive (Mazda 121, RAV-4, Toyota Estima/Previa for example).
    In Europe they were still producing cars, that can easily be rebuilt as paperfolded model cars. The Alfa 155, a BMW 3-series E36 or a Citroen ZY for example. Ford wanted to built modern round cars – Scorpio, Mondeo and other Fords became round – but not modern or attractive…

    So the Mazda Xedos 6 is a typical car of this era. Very modern and attractive, and a little bit stylish. The Xedos 9 was much more conservative – and not so stylish. So i would prefer the Xedos 9 today – as long as i don´t have the money for a Lexus GS. The Xedos 9 is more elegant than a Toyota Camry, a Mitsubishi Sigma or a Nissan Maxima or a Nissan Leopard of this era ( I never understood, why Nissan did not sell the Leopard in Europe).

    1. That is a good distinction vis a vis the European and Japanese cars. I remember being confronted by the early 90s Celica and not being able to discern its structure. All I could see were the curves. Without wanting get all art-theory about it, the Japanese clay modellers and designers could manage the soft shapes so that there was still a perceivable underlying structure: it made sense. To Europeans accustomed to sharp edges this was just so much soft noise. If the Japanese erred it was not because their cars were “wrong” so much as they were not ready for the tastes of Europeans. After all this time I am much less judgemental about car shapes and the Xedos cars seem to get nicer and nicer too look at as time goes by. Would I want a Xedos9? I´d have to check the correpsonding Honda Legend to tell.

  2. The Xedos 6 was quite a looker back in its day and has certainly aged more gracefully than other full-fat soft design cars (the much later Porsche 996 coming to mind).

    Mazda were on a roll in the late ’80s/early 1990s: the fastback 323 was quite a dashing design and the ovoid 121 is a curiosity car that should really be an urban hipster’s favourite – alas, it seems to have been largely forgotten, rather than having attained cult status.

    When Mazda sent their new (’92 vintage?) 626, the very very soft one with the integrated spoiler à la Aston Martin Vanquish Mk2, to Arese, Alfa’s designers were aghast: they had no idea how to come up with production methods to create similarly round shapes and expected to be trounced by the Japanese. Luckily for them, unbridled soft design proved to be a bit of a fad.

    1. Roundness reached its limit, I suppose. There had been a push for roundness which lasted a long time yet the profile of cars didn´t get to maximum smoothness until about ten years later. The 90s cars have steeper windscreen and rear window angles than would be acceptable today. There was no way to make cars any rounder. The subsequent movement has involved mixes of round and rectilinear. The 2000 Nissan Primera (the last one) has a very smoothed off profile and quite angular shapes inside it. The 626 of 1992 to 1997 is very rounded but has a more rectilinear underlying architecture.
      The 1999 car is hard to understand. It´s almost as baffling as a Citroen C5.

    2. Mazda’s late ’90s range was a puzzling one in general. The retrograde conservatism appears to have been a particularly excessive reaction to the brand’s crisis of a few years earlier. I couldn’t think of a blander range of cars from another manufacturer at that point in time (which isn’t to say that I’d prefer the wannabe-quirky C5 to the pensioner’s 626).

  3. What was Mazda’s problem other than losing money in the 90s? I can’t remember how they were perceived except for the Miata. The other cars did the same things Nissan and Toyota did. Is it about the “brand identity”? Really though. A lot of other similar cars were equally competently characterless. The 1999 car is now one I rather like (the interior is very comfortable and has great seats). It’s like the Epica: a simple car that asks nothing of the driver. The next model lost the velour and became charmless though well proportioned.

  4. I liked the Xedos cars – I remember that I thought the 6 is how the Rover 400 or 600 should have looked.

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