1991-94 Mercury Capri Genetics: 1988 Mazda 323 GTX and Astina
Part myth and part true is the fact that the 1991-94 Mercury Capri was solely based on the 1988-89 Mazda 323 GTX and Protege. The truth is, yes, the Capri does have the much of the Mazda 323 GTX in its engine and suspension. The 1.6L B5 engine also used for the early Mazda Miata but in a non-turboized version.
Of course the body was claimed to be designed in Italy. However, that is as far as the truth goes because anyone who sees a 1991-93 Mazda Astina (was not sold in the US but in Australia), one then knows, at the least the front end body style is Mazda, totally with minor modifications. Both the Astina, GTX and Capri, all have similar specs, varying only a little. The Astina had a 1.8L engine and FWD. It was a hatchback, it was a little longer in wheelbase and could carry four people easily. Both the GTX and Astina were turbo versions like the Capri XR2, and the engines are identical, as are the suspension details.
While the Italians were involved in the body design of the Capri, there is little doubt that Ford -Mercury in Australia used the Mazda Astina front with minor changes and used the remainder of the Italian design for the rest of the car.