Manufactured by Japan's Mazda from 1995 to 2002, the midsize entry-luxury Mazda Millenia was supposed to be released as the second of three models for the proposed premium division Amati, but the company's finances dwindled, preventing the launch of the luxury brand. It was released as a separate model instead. With a yaw-sensitive four-wheel steering option, it was claimed to have passed the evasive maneuver test or elk test--which determines how well a certain vehicle evades a suddenly appearing obstacle--at speeds comparable to the BMW 850i and Nissan 300ZX. Here are the details of the styling and performance changes of the Mazda Millenia throughout history.
1995: The beginning
The Mazda Millenia was introduced in North America, replacing the outgoing 929 as Mazda's flagship offering in the continent, which was the last rear-wheel drive Japanese import sedan since the discontinuation of the Toyota Cressida in 1992. Being a front-wheel drive, the Millenia had been capable of becoming rivals only with Nissan Maxima.
1997: The awakening
The Mazda Millenia underwent significant facelifts that highlighted cost-saving measures; for instance the hood was downgraded to steel from having been made from aluminum. However, some equipment was upgraded and new offerings were introduced, such as the revised center control design, anti-lock brakes, dual airbags, and automatic climate control. The Millenia was also outfitted with new headlight reflectors to provide broader, brighter road coverage.
2000: The anniversary
The Mazda Millenia celebrated the millennium by cutting prices (a hefty $2500-$5500 price cut) and offering a special-edition model which featured 17-inch wheels, an in-dash six-CD changer, and suede upholstery.
2001: The resurfacing
The Millenia again underwent major facelifts in 2001 to strengthen the vehicle's body structure, improving torsional rigidity. New stabilizer bars for better handling and bigger brakes were also added. Exterior styling was tweaked and upgrades were made to the interior. Other offerings this year included power-lumbar driver's seat, leather-wrapped shift knob, new center console, and two-tone trim.
2002: The legacy
Destined to be more than a typical Mazda, the Millenia featured upscale leather, wood, and chrome appointments inside the car, along with higher-quality paint and overall fit and finish. The model year has two trim levels: base, which came standard with a 170-horsepower, 2.5-liter V6 engine; and S, which has larger tires, standard traction control, and 210-hp 2.3-liter "Miller Cycle" supercharged V6 engine.
The Miller Cycle V6 featured a belt-driven supercharger to boost power and torque, affecting handling, with well-controlled body roll through smooth curves. A four-speed automatic was the only available transmission for both base and S trim levels as no manual-shift Millenias were manufactured.