Curbside Comparison: First Generation Mini and Mazda AZ Wagon – It’s a Small World After All

I haven’t been back to the US or to Europe in over 12 years, so I’m not sure if it’s the same there, but here on the streets of Tokyo, I see an original Mini at least once a day – often more than one.

This one caught my eye as it was parked with a group of Japanese “kei class” minicars; the smallest vehicle segment here in Japan.  And as you can see, the Mini looks absolutely tiny compared to the already small Mazda AZ Wagon next to it.  I’m always taken aback by just how small these original Minis are.

Fun Fact – the Mazda AZ Wagon is actually manufactured by Suzuki and is a badge engineered version of their Wagon R.  I’ll have more on the confusing world of Japanese kei car manufacturers in an upcoming post.

The Mazda is typical kei car size – 3.4 meters in length and 1.4 meters wide.  The Mini is 3.0 meters long and also 1.4 meters wide. The Mazda has a DOHC 660 cc triple putting out about 55 hp – 64 hp if it’s a turbo.  I’ll assume the Mini has the 1275 cc version of the A Series engine that had between 58 to 75 hp, depending on year.

They’re thick on the ground here, for probably a couple reasons.  As I mentioned in a previous post, the Japanese have an affinity with cars from the UK, as both are island nations that drive on the left.  Japanese also have a fondness for “boutique” cars; those that are trendy or fashionable.  There is at least one shop here, probably more, that remanufactures Mini’s – strips them down to bare metal, and puts them back together with new parts – out with the Lucas, in with the Denso…

I’m still waiting though to run across Mr Bean…