Mazda Demio

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Years Represented: 1996-2003
Class: Subcompact Car
Type: 5-door hatchback
Country: Japan 
Host: GT1, GT2, GT3, GT4, & GT5
Price: $8,744 (used GL in GT2)
         $14,660 (GL-X in GT3) 
         $9,528 (used in GT4 {doesn't say GL or GL-X)
         $0 (prize for bronzing GT5's B-license)

Construction: unit steel
Length: 149.6" // Width: 65.75" // Height: 60.4"
Wheelbase: 94.1"
Track: 55.9" front & rear
Ground Clearance: 5.7"
Overhang: 4 feet 7 inches
Weight: 2,006 pounds (GT1)
             2,116 pounds (GL series in GT2 & 3, used Demio in GT4)
             2,380 (Demio Sport--GT4 and GT5)
Turn Radius: 33 feet, 11 inches
Tires: 165/70-13 front & rear (GL) 175/60R-14 (GL-X)
Brakes: vented disc / drum
F. Suspension: strut / coils / anti-roll bar
R. Suspension: trailing twist beam / torsion bars
Engine: 1.3 liter SOHC inline-4 (G) 
            1.5 liter SOHC I-4 (GL-X)
            1.5 liter DOHC I-4 (Sport)
Aspiration: normal
Fuel System: EFi
Valves per Cylinder: 2
Bore x Stroke: 3.07 x 3.08" (GL-X)
Compression Ratio: 9.4:1
GT1 Redline: 6,500 // Rev Limit: 8,500
GT2 & 3 Redline: 6,000 // Rev Limit: 6,500
GT4 Idle Speed: 500 // Redline: 6,000 // RPM Limit: 6,500
GT5 Idle Speed: 625 // Redline: 6,500 // RPM Limit: 7,000

Tested HP:   
1.3 Liter (G package):
79 @ 6,000 rpm       
1.5 Liter SOHC (GL-X): 98 @ 6,000
1.5 Liter DOHC (Sport): 108 @ 6,000
Tested Torque:
1.3 Liter SOHC:
79 @ 4,000             
1.5 Liter SOHC: 94 @ 4,500
1.5 Liter DOHC: 100 @ 4,000

Lb / Power:  
1.3 Liter SOHC: 23.77                         
1.5 Liter SOHC: 21.59
1.5 Liter DOHC: 22.03

Hp / Liter:    
1.3 Liter SOHC: 60.77                          
1.5 Liter SOHC: 65.4
1.5 Liter DOHC: 72.0
Layout: Front Engine / Front Drive

Differential: Open
Transmission: 5-speed automatic (GT1 test)
`````````````````` 5-speed manual (GT4 & 5 tests)

GT1 car is a Demio "G Package"
GT4 car is a Demio GL-X
GT5 car is a Demio Sport

0-60 mph:
GT1: 14.3 seconds                        
GT4: 12.883 seconds
GT5: 11.496 "

0-100 mph:
GT1: N/A                                     
GT4: 36.750 seconds
GT5: 35.243 "
400 M:
20.867 @ 77 mph                     
GT4: 19.186 @ 77 mph
GT5: 18.511 @ 78 "

1 KM
35.898 @ 99 mph                     
GT4: 34.519 @ 98 mph
GT5: 33.574 @ 98 "
Test Track: N/A

100-zero mph: 5.766 seconds (GT5)

Top Speed at Redline
1st: 26 mph
2nd: 52 mph
3rd: 74 mph
4th: 99 mph
GT1 top speed:
 116 mph (GT1-6,400 rpm in 4th gear)
5th: 123.45 mph @ 6,200 rpm (GT2)
       117.19 mph @ 5,750 rpm (GT4)
       116.6 mph @ 5,600 rpm (GT5)


Now it's time to review everyone's favorite underdog, the Mazda Demio!
Go ahead and make fun! This breadbox on wheels has become as familiar in Gran Turismo as the Skyline and the TVR. Without the Demio in our games, something would be missing! Hence, PD keeps including it. And depending on which game we have, there's either a single version to race (GT3) or up to 6 models in GT2!

In real-life, there are dozens of models available, which we never get the pleasure *cough* of driving or racing. They have mysteriously fancy descriptions such as Demio "L"...."GL"....."GL-X"...LX G Package....GL Special....Aletta Special, and so on. During the second generation of Demios (2003 and beyond), Mazda trimmed these down to just three: Casual, Cozy, and Sport. To a westerner such as myself, all these different monikers don't make a whole lot of sense. What is supposed to be the difference between a Sport and a Casual model?  It was only when recently visiting the Mazda Demio Wikipedia page that some clues have been dispensed, so now I'll share them.

Apparently for the second generation of Demio, "Casual" versions are supposed to be geared for women. Cozy is for family-oriented buyers, and Sport includes the males. I think I got that right. So as I bought my Demio Sport and raced it in GT5's Sunday Cup, I reflected on the fact that ...yes....I am driving a "manly" sort of machine, here.

Well to be honest, I am noticing a bit of an engine snarl present as I've been driving a Demio Sport around lately. But the bottom line? The point I'm going to try and make during this review? Here it is.... 

The Demio (known as the 121 or Mazda 2 in some parts of the world outside of Japan) is one of those cars that--let's face it--has no reason to be anywhere near a race track, yet here it is. Can't imagine why anyone would choose to race one in real life, and in the game we can thrash this wagon about and have a good laugh.
The Demio (any version) was designed by people who obviously left the "wind tunnel" part of the car's development retarded, since they knew it would never need to roll much over 62 mph. That's what 100 km/h translates to, you see. The Demio has got that ‘Point A to point B’ sort of feel. You'll be laughing at other cars as you pass them sitting at gas pumps, but at the tracks you may ultimately have to eat it all back. In GT4, where fuel is now a reality, it is possible to go a few extra laps before you'll need a refuel, but who's gonna drive a Demio in an enduro???
Despite all these criticisms, the Demio can be fun to race. It's not fast, which makes it a challenge to win with. You'll have to rely on cornering and out-braking other cars unless you're at the most basic, easiest races available, and (as one may expect) this car isn't so hot in those corners. Though the Demio is relatively small, it's got a high center of gravity which leads to lots of body roll. Anyone surprised by this?

Good thing it is a front-wheel drive machine, and good thing weight reductions are not on our shopping list early on. Guess what is?



--------------ENGINE / DRIVETRAIN---------
Earlier we learned there isn't just one version of Demio, there are multiple versions. And for all these versions, Mazda has also included multiple engines and sometimes transmission types, too.  

The 1.3 liter SOHC inline-4 cylinder featured in the Demio LX G Package is the weakest of all motors in GT1, with just 79 horses to start. In later games, there are a pleathora of others that are slower (much slower) than the Demio. But in GT1, the G Package proudly holds the sloth record. It is worth racing a Demio once or twice just to put faster cars in perspective; after all, SOMEBODY has to be the loser! And personally, I kinda like racing slower cars sometimes. You won't necessarily lose every race if you know what the hell you're doing.
Torque and horsepower are both low, even after the engine is modded-up, by which point it's only producing 202-211 hp depending on which model gets fixed (GT1).

The '97 Demio A-Spec in GT2 can make it to 270 hp; in fact, all of the GT2 Demios in the 2nd game (except the G package) can be modified to higher power than the Demios from the 1st game.

GT3 features the sporty (well...) GL-X with a 1.5 liter engine, which either has a single or a dual cam, depending on which website you want to believe. Here, Polyphony Digital seemed almost glad to drop all the extra models...even the famous A-spec is gone! The GL-X can accept a single stage of normal-aspirated tuning or 2 turbos--ensuring you'll never be tempted to wander much further than the Beginner's League. This car can happily claim over 280 horses when all is said and done. Not bad for a mommy-wagon.

I figured there would be more Demio models in GT4, but there aren't. Polyphony Digital/Mazda seem content with just two in this game. Like a bad habit, PD can't seem to drop the Demio altogether, yet by the time GT4 was in development, it also seems PD's crew said to one another.."Now wait...are we gonna pack our game with Demios again like we did back in GT2?!?"

Obviously the answer was "no", so here we are down to two models. There's a used car that could either be a GL or a GL-X (the game's info doesn't say), and there's the newer 2003 Demio Sport. Either car accepts 3 naturally-aspirated tunes and 3 turbos. To all those that have made a Demio their first car in GT4: you might smoke the Sunday Cup with few mods, but hit a wall at the FF Challenge, because the Demio'll need at least 160 horsepower to compete at a couple FF Challenge tracks, which means a Stage 2 turbo system! Youch.

I believe the same two cars in GT4 have made it into GT5; although I'm not entirely sure. I did win a 2003 Demio Sport at some point, and have driven and tested this car. In comparison to earlier models, the Sport definitely has a dual overhead cam engine (as opposed to a single overhead cam), and weighs over a hundred pounds more as well.  
Not only is the engine weak in any game, but the Demio's gearing is all wrong for racing. 1st and 2nd gear are short throws, maxing out before even 60 mph is passed. The rest of the gears are tall, forcing us to buy a full-custom racing gearbox if we're serious about getting maximum performance. This isn't absolutely necessary by any means, it just depends on how long we want our Demio's career to last. With some versions of the Demio, stock gears can be used to get around if you don't mind constant low-performance. In my GT1 test, I wasn't even able to make it past 4th gear with a stock transmission...which means that there's some room once the car is fixed up a bit and 5th becomes an option as we race.
The engine is probably made from lightweight aluminum, and therefore the front end doesn't feel too heavy. This wagon actually feels back-heavy, matter of fact, even though it's not--and this means understeer and oversteer are experienced at times, unless we're talking about the wagon of GT4...then it'll be 100% understeer with grippy brake-diving as well. But since this car isn't quick, experienced players should be able to handle any challenging moments that arise.
Needless to say, this is the perfect car for a new player. It's like taking a class: Racing Physics 101. Meet today's guest-teacher, the Mazda Demio!

Like other slow cars I've reviewed, I'd skip all the racing parts if I were you, unless you're rich. This is a great car for a beginner (and unfortunately most beginners won't choose it) but it's just not worth serious attention for most. You will be able to get a bit more out of any of the Demios in GT2 or 3, and for less money, so load up the car with as much horsepower as you want here if you dare.
...That was sort of a joke.
--------------CHASSIS / HANDLING-------------
Now here's the goofy part.
This car's suspension and tires are built for purposes that have nothing to do with racing, which shouldn't be a surprise to anyone reading this. We don't have Demios or Mazda 2s in America; the closest thing we get is perhaps the Mazda 5. The 5 has a similar shape to the 2 (it's a 5-door hatch/MPV) but is larger. If I am to start judging by the Mazda 5, it's obvious the Mazda 2 is an economy version of a vehicle that's made to cater to family life, and is friendly at the  gas pump. Nothing to do with racing whatsoever.  

Despite this, the Demio has fairly good FWD traction, especially since earlier games (GT1 and GT2) don't simulate wheelspin very well. In GT3, 4, or 5, the Demio's basic traction eventually gets destroyed once at least a Stage 2 NA tune or turbo is used, so players in these games will sometimes need to play with throttle input when accelerating, despite the fact that there doesn't seem to be that much power going on. But this can be said: in any game, the Demio actually can do fairly well during lower levels of any Gran Turismo game.  

Surprisingly, braking abilities are good. And since traction & reaction (wheelspin) are predictable (and torque is low), drivers can hold off  buying a limited-slip device till the car is nearing 200 horses. The lack of torque between those front wheels is actually a bonus here, as power can be pasted out-of-corners with minimal problems, as long as the driver is aware of how to avoid wheelspin by backing off the throttle at just the right moments.

The springs are set nice and soft so there won't have any problem getting bumped off-course, but beware of its sloppy, mushy handling! Depending on the game, it's this car's higher center of gravity that can make for either a fun or frustrating experience.
The engine has low torque at any level, even if it's turbocharged, so if you find yourself getting sideways at all thru a turn, it generally means the car has just lost all momentum, and it will take a while to reclaim it. The car's stock tires often do okay, oddly, till we get to GT4, where N-series tires finally begin to display the way Demios really oughta be handling! Even in GT3...I found that it took a while (which means till I was able to afford a Stage 2 turbo) before the Demio seriously understeered with Normal tires. Front-end grip is almost always present.
Like I said, if this car were any faster, stock (normal) tires wouldn't be up to the task, but since Demios are so low-powered, they'll do fine until the engine highly modified in games earlier than GT4. Also, cars in GT4 on N tires will understeer heavily, which shouldn't be a surprise. But those with sport tires will be now prone to gripping heavily under braking, which is an admirable trait (finally) of this car for those who can manage it.

I've also done a lot of Demio driving in GT5 as well, in a 2003 Demio Sport. Aren't you jealous? Ha ha.  First I did a 30-lap Arcade race (Clubman Route 5), and then the FF Challenge and World Compact Cup. It's interesting that the Demio is lots more manageable in GT5 than it was in 4, but this is somewhat of an illusion. GT5's easiest races are actually much easier than GT4's. For instance, the FF Challenge in GT4 requires about 160 horsepower. In GT5, I only used 108 max.

But during that 30 lap race at the Clubman course, I chose the Professional level, and wound up chasing an ancient Toyota 2000GT lap after lap. I did this after easily working my way to 2nd place during the first 3 or 4 laps. During this stint, I can definitely say the Demio was pushed more towards its max. I was using soft comfort tires, and sometime during the middle of the race, an '86 MR2 caught up to me. We sparred for a few laps until I made a mistake (touched a wall) and then found myself in a Demio Dilemma!  The MR2 passed me, and I resigned to find myself in 3rd place. Couldn't catch that MR2.

After driving the Demio to is "max", lap after lap, one thing is clear: it certainly is more predictable and less frustrating than it was in GT4. Understeer is the worst thing to look forward to in either game, but in GT5 it seems there is more of a window to look through before any problems show up. Front tires heat up occasionally when cornering really hard, but even so, understeer is predictable, and easy to manage.

I would say the Demio Sport is a better choice for a race car than the Opel Tigra I drove recently, matter of fact.        

For those who choose to push this car up to racing specs (snicker): Racing slicks can actually present a problem. If the driver makes a mistake and steers too sharp, the car will easily tuck to the inside of that turn with front-end grabbing. That "grip" thing again, but maximized.
Medium or hard stabilizers are a must-buy for any level of racing if you've got the GT1 car, but in later games, the Demio grips with alot more tenacity than it seems it should (assuming tires are correct), making the easily-bought sports suspension useful for lots of driving.
Whatever you do, make sure Grandma gets a turn to play race-driver.


1). Any Demio is lightweight. Which saves lots of early credits since we won't need to typically buy weight reductions.
2). Low cost. Demios can be found at both used and new lots, too, and sometimes won as prizes. 
3). The A-spec can be easily won in GT1 or 2...over and over and over again. Not that many ever race it...they're just after easy, early credits as they sell the A-spec!
4). Great beginner's car. No, seriously!
5). A lot of fun to drive. It can turn that frown upside-down.
6). Racing slicks, racing parts, and brakes aren't necessary. The car will never be fast enough to really need them. GT2 cars (the ones which get the most power, anyways) are more worthy of your credits here, and can go further into the game if you're persistent enough.
7). Race-kits available in the first 2 games for any Demio.

8). Surprisingly good braking ability, from the first Gran Turismo to the latest. Sometimes this includes cars on crappy normal or "comfort" tires (depending on the game).
1). Low power. Low torque at any level of modification.
2). Awkward gearing. Racing boxes necessary for some cars in some situations to wring out what little power there is to be had.
3). Poor handling, hard to maneuver at times, despite FWD traction. Too grippy at other times (especially when low-powered). GT4's Demios have the most drastic problems here.
4). High center of gravity leads to lots of body rolling.
5). Did we mention slow? Even with max power in an A-spec, most drivers will get bored and move on.
6). Just about as dull as a car can be. The A-spec (GT1 & 2) and the Demio Sport (GT4) seem to by trying really hard to insert some flair..

7). And in GT2 there are so many Demios. Really, one or two is enough.
8). High-caliber services such as port/polish and engine balancing seem barely worth the spent credits as the car gains just a few horses. 

9). Peak power located on the redline in some cars. Automtic drivers will never be able to wring out peak power, and manual drivers have limited RPMs to use past peak hp before needing to shift.

10). Used Demios can sometimes be hard to find, as they sometimes won't appear for days and days.
11). Wait. I did say this car is slow, right? I think so. ;)

Originally Published: August 13, 2004
Re Edited: December 28, 2008
Edited for GT5 content: July 17, 2012