If you have never heard of the 1987 Mazda Étude: you are not alone! I personally never heard of it before and it was a big WTF?! when I saw it first. At first I thought I was looking at an Isuzu Gemini, but those tail lights resembled something else. When I looked at the badge I was even more baffled: Étude?

Mazda Étude: Isuzu Gemini with RX7 tail lights?
Mazda Étude: Isuzu Gemini with RX7 tail lights?

What does Étude mean?

First of all, what does Étude actually mean? Why that acute accent on the capital E? Oh wait, maybe the dictionary can tell us more about that:

Étude: a short musical composition, typically for one instrument, designed as an exercise to improve the technique or demonstrate the skill of the player.

Mazda Étude looks like a Isuzu Gemini and RX7 mashup
Mazda Étude looks like a Isuzu Gemini and RX7 mashup

Reading this description, the name would have been much more fitting for a 1980s Honda! Honda named their cars after musical pieces like the Beat, Ballade, Concerto, Jazz and Prelude. Mazda is more well known for names like Cosmo, Familia, Luce, Savanna and Capella. Oh wait…a-Capella, now I get it! However, the Étude isn’t based on the Capella, but on the Familia.

Mazda Étude: Mazda’s lower and sleeker Familia
Mazda Étude: Mazda’s lower and sleeker Familia

Technical background

Maybe even more interesting is what the Étude actually is based upon and what it carried over!

Mazda Étude is based on the Familia BF platform

The Étude is based on Mazda’s Familia BF platform, also known as the 323 platform outside of Japan. If you squint your eyes you can see the common shape of the three door hatchback in it. The car featured a 45mm lower roofline, which made it look much more stretched out than the ordinary Familia hatchback. That’s also why it reminded me of the Isuzu Gemini.

Isuzu Gemini JT150
Isuzu Gemini JT150 looks very similar to the Étude in shape

At the front it features wider headlights to fit in with that late 1980s wrap-around headlight style:

Mazda Étude: late 1980s wraparound headlights
Late 1980s wraparound headlights

On the rear we have a set of immensely wide tail lights that look like RX-7 FC units. And this is why I got confused over the car.

1987 Mazda Étude versus 1986 Mazda RX7
1986 Mazda RX7 versus 1987 Étude

Étude engine choice

Mechanically the Étude is similar to the Familia, albeit the choice for engines is slightly different. Just like the BF, the Étude was featured with the non-turbo Mazda B5 engine. However, top spec was the Mazda B6D. This is a 1.6 liter high compression double overhead cam engine that has a respectable output of 107hp.

End of production in 1989

Mazda built the Étude from 1987 till 1989 when the Familia BF was replaced by the Familia BG. Mazda decided to not continue with the Étude name as it was a highly unsuccessful car and not many were produced or sold. They did replace the Étude with the Astina (also known as the Mazda 323F outside Japan) and the later Autozam AZ-3/Eunos Presso (also known as the Mazda MX-3 outside Japan).

Japanese TV ad

Luckily someone uploaded the late 1980s Japanese TV ad on Youtube:

At the end we can see the catch phrase for this car was Urban Tuned. Now what would urban tuning mean? Do you know it? Please leave it in the comment section below!


I just just love this bubble-economy relic! What company would create a low volume car that doesn’t share the majority of its parts with another car in their lineup? Oh wait… Didn’t Mazda also tried to diversify in the Autozam, Eunos, ɛ̃fini and Amati brands? And didn’t all those brands fail dramatically and then Mazda had to merge every car into their own brand again. Ah yes, now it all makes sense!