Mazda Familia GTR - GTX (BG8Z) Review


1.8 twincam 16 Valve
1.8 twincam 16 Valve
5sp manual
5sp manual
Turbo / Intercooler
Turbo / Intercooler
3-door hatch (sedan also)
3-door hatch

The Mazda Familia is a little known secret in most parts of the world. We know about the Familia or the 323 as it’s known in America, but what about its rally bred 4WD monster of a brother known as the Familia GTR. There is a lot of great stuff here and the best part is the surprise of beating the pants off people in what looks like a small student’s car.
To start with, here is an introduction. The GTR was Mazda’s entry into WRC much like the Impreza was for Subaru and the Lancer Evolution was for Mitsubishi. It is a lightweight turbo 4 cylinder with 4wd. In order to meet FIA regulations, this car needed to be sold to the public so Mazda made a small production of just 2200 of them. Mazda also made a less hard core version called the GTX model.
The car is not overly fast but it is a quick little ride clocking in at 210ps and 184 ft/lbs. Its short wheelbase and LSD make it very tossable in the corners while having the traction to power out. This car is a really fun car to drive. This car has a similar power to weight ratio as a Version 1 GC8 WRX.
The Familia GTR definitely has personality. You can identify the GTR model by the large foglamps and big bumper used to fit the front mount intercooler. As well as the three hood vents at the front. Other than that, a slightly wider stance and a nice set of 15” wheels seal the deal. It’s pretty normal looking from the outside.
For the average buyer it might be a good idea to consider the GTX model with a smaller faster spooling turbo. It has 30 less horses but the power band is much wider making it easier to drive and in most cases just as fast. The GTX only loses to the GTR in high RPMs.
One thing to watch out for is the availability of the car. It shares many pieces with the standard 323 and the base engine is the same as the 1.8 Miata. The gearbox came in the NA Protégé of the early 90s. Also, good thing this car is popular as a privateer rally car so aftermarket companies picked up where Mazda left off. You can get the parts you need for it still but you won’t be able to go into the parts shop and tell them the vehicle name.
The GTR was available from 92 – 94 and not many were made. Those that were made were driven like they were meant to be driven (hard). You will see some that were ex-rally cars. For this reason consider getting one carefully. You will have something that not many people have but consider the down sides as well.
In auction in Japan there are about 2 – 5 GTXs per month, and 0 – 3 GTRs per month. Prices are generally really cheap for the GTX as it is more common, the GTR is slightly more expensive but still not more than an STi or Evo 1 or 2.
Full information about exporting vehicles can be found on this site. Please ask any questions about importing your own Familia GTx or GTR.