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SEE ALSO:Mazda Buyer's Guide

In today's highly competitive market Mazda knows that it must live up to its slogan, "It Just Feels Right". To insure that its broad product range continues to meet its motto Mazda launched five totally new 1992 models in less than a year, one of which was the 929. Since its introduction in 1987 the 929 has been the luxury four-door flagship of the Mazda line, and its newest edition is an excellent example of a successful blend of solid yet dynamic and innovative styling, design and engineering principles.

The newest 929 has two features that are unique to Mazda, a cruise control system that uses "fuzzy logic", and the optional solar-powered ventilation system. The cruise control's "fuzzy logic" computer is programmed with flexible rules which allows it to continually store and absorb data obtained from the driver's actual long-term driving experiences and to adjust the shift points of the automatic transmission to real-world conditions. Other cruise control systems are programmed on either a set road-speed or engine-speed basis that cannot be altered. The solar ventilation system uses solar cells that are embedded in the glass sunroof to power fans that remove hot air from the inside the car when it is parked. In hot summer weather I found it to be noticeably effective, plus it allows the air conditioner to cool more quickly the inside to a comfortable temperature. When parked in the sunlight on cooler days the solar system automatically diverts the power generated by the cells to the battery and "trickle" recharges it.

APPEARANCE: The 929 displays the classic and elegant. lines of a luxury automobile. It is smoothly rounded with just a hint of hood and side sculpture, plus stainless trim around the grille and frameless windows. Its wide, low stance is set off by wide headlights and a thin grille in front, matched by a broad expanse of stop, turn and backup lights in back, plus smooth fared-in bumpers and styled alloy wheels.

COMFORT: In standard trim the 929 is excellently equipped, and when fitted with the optional premium package and solar moonroof it, almost literally, has it all. The excellent and versatile AM/FM/CD/cassette sound system includes a trunk-mounted six-disc changer and power amplifier, as well as remote controls on the steering wheel. Aided or not by the solar powered fans, the climate control system performs admirably. Both custom comfortable front seats are powered and dual air bags are part of the package, as is wood trim, supple leather upholstery and a setup for a cellular phone, plus power windows, mirrors, locks and remote trunk and fuel door levers. Rear seating is excellent for two, but the middle seat is questionable except for short trips, and trunk and interior storage space is limited.

ROADABILITY: During a 400 plus mile drive across a broad valley and up to and about the mountains the 929 aptly demonstrated its touring style riding and handling, that luxury car owners prefer and expect. It is designed to deliver a smooth, stable, safe and controlled ride assisted by its multi-link suspension layout, rear-wheel drive, four-wheel ventilated disc brakes, anti-lock braking and variable-assist power steering. The "fuzzy logic" cruise control performs quite well on interstate highways, and its improved insulation and weatherstripping dramatically demonstrate the 929's super-quiet cruising capability. Exceptional all-around visibility is a positive result of its sculptured design.

PERFORMANCE: The 3.0 liter, dual overhead cam, 24-valve, multi-port fuel injected, V-6 engine that powers this latest 929 has new variable intake and exhaust devices that have aided in increasing its horsepower up to 195, as well as improving its EPA fuel economy numbers. The electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmission is designed to automatically select "power" or "normal" mode depending upon applied throttle pressure. A "hold" button allows the driver to manually change gears, or stay in a lower gear when driving up or down steeper grades.

SUGGESTIONS: Improve backlighting on controls for better visibility. Develop a tilt steering wheel, and an infrared remote locking system. Add B pillar shoulder height adjustments. Increase usable trunk space.

ECONOMY: The EPA averages are 19 city/24 highway. My overall average worked out to 21.7 mpg.

CONCLUSION: Mazda continues to improve its flagship 929 model to insure that it will meet the criterion demanded in today's luxury car models. While it has received high marks in most aspects, some minor improvements and additions will insure its continued success in its class.

PRICE AS TESTED: $ 34,125 including premium package and solar sunroof.

BASE PRICE: $ 29,200 with standard 929 hardware and accessories.


           Base Price              $  29,200
           Price As Tested         $  34,125
           Engine Type             V-6, dohc - 24 v, mpfi
           Engine Size             3.0 liter/180 cid
           Horsepower              195 @ 5750
           Torque (ft/lbs)         200 @ 3500
           Wheelbase/Length        112"/194"
           Transmission            four-speed electronic automatic w/od
           Curb Weight             3640
           Pounds per Horsepower   19
           Fuel Capacity           18
           Fuel Requirement        Unleaded regular (87 oct)
           Tires                   Bridgestone SF 324 P205/65R15 93H
           Brakes                  anti-lock standard  vented disc/vented disc
           Drive Train             front engine/rear drive     
           EPA Economy - miles per gallon,
             city/highway/observed       19/24/21.7
           0 to 60 mph                   8.9 sec
           1/4 mi (E.T.)                 16.8 sec
           Coefficient of Drag  (Cd)     .32