Mercury Capris have long exuded sporty, foreign character. There was the somewhat exclusive Euro-styled Capri of the early 60s, and then the German running mate of the Ford Mustang II of the 1970s–only quite a bit better. The latest reincarnation, of model years 1991-94, was from Australia and meant to be the original Mazda Miata‘s fiercest rival.The latest Capri never did become the megahit that the Miata was. Not even close. The wedgy slabbish styling, while handsome, was a bit conservative for some. The interior… ditto. Perhaps the Capri’s main “problem” was that it was front-wheel-drive. Pure sports cars are rear-wheel-drive, cried the purists. It was universally acknowledged that the Capri did not handle as well as the Miata.
All that said, the Capri had its own unique attributes that could be appreciated by many. The Capri actually had a backseat. Ok, so the only ones who could sit back there were kids (or people you didn’t like), but one could at least toss some groceries or a gym bag back there. Likewise, trunk space was relatively decent. And front-wheel-drive made the Capri perhaps a bit more suitable for adverse weather conditions than its rear-wheel-drive competition. Furthermore, the Capri–which ironically used many Mazda 323 components–was reliable and fun to drive. (Even with the top up!)
That the car was not a blockbuster hit and was only produced for less than 4 years only makes it more unique (and attractive) in our eyes. Finally, at just a couple thousand dollars the Capri is going for nowadays makes it one of the most affordable cars listed on hi-mpg.org. All that, coupled with the Capri’s 31 and 25 mpg on the highway and city, respectively (original EPA estimates), makes it a hi-mpg.org Hot Green Machine.
[Note: Gas mileage figures listed here are for the non-turbocharged version with standard transmission. The more common turbocharged version achieves slightly better performance but sacrifices a little bit of fuel efficiency.]