It is generally available as a sedan or hatchback, although convertible and wagon versions have also been available.
The Ford Laser is, in fact, a restyled version of the 323 produced by Mazda in Japan since 1980. (Ford had acquired a 25 per cent stake in Mazda in 1979.) The Laser replaced the rear-wheel-drive Escort in Australasia in 1981, proving hugely popular as a hatchback, as well as a sedan (also known as the Meteor, and providing a worthy rival to Japanese models like the Toyota Corolla.
Many buyers in Australia and New Zealand were totally unaware that the Laser was Japanese at all, with Ford being seen as a 'local' brand. In those markets, the Laser outsold its Mazda twin, but in neighbouring Asian countries, such as Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, as well as Japan itself, the reverse was the case. However, pooling resources with Mazda allowed Ford to maintain a footold in the region, which it would otherwise have lost. This was also the case in South America, Africa, and the Caribbean, where the Laser was also sold, in many cases being locally assembled.
In 1987, a version of the Laser built in Mexico was introduced in North America where it was known as the Mercury Tracer. In 1989, the US Ford Escort was replaced by a version of the Laser/323, although the Escort name was retained.
However, the Laser has been replaced in most markets around the world by the European-sourced Focus, designated as one of Ford's 'world cars'. The Mazda 323 replacement, the Mazda 3, is also based on the same platform as the new model Focus, meaning that both companies' products in this market segment will use the same plaform around the world.