When Mazda built the Mazda6 and its variations, there was no denying that the emphasis of the car was going to be a superior driving experience. By far the best sport enthusiast’s car in its mid-sized sedan class, the Mazda6 offers stiff handling and performance tuned power delivery to the road. With a variety of body styles and trims, the Mazda6 can provide enjoyable sporty performance to many different lifestyles from thrill seekers to grocery haulers. In addition, the relative obscurity of this car makes it ideal for the car lover who wants something not everyone has. The Mazda6 is available in many countries through out the world, the following article generally refers to the Mazda6 as it is available in United States in which in there are V6 versions. In Japan, the the Mazda 6 is known as the Atenza.
See also the main fact sheet for the Mazda Mazda6.
- 1 High Points
- 2 Low Points
- 3 Performance and Handling
- 4 Gas Mileage
- 5 Safety
- 6 Reliability and Maintenance
- 7 Interior and Comforts
- 8 Exterior
- 9 Styles and Options
- 10 Main Competitors
- 11 External Links
- Excellent handling
- Superior road grip and feel
- Ride is rough due to stiff suspension
- Road noise is loud
Performance and Handling
When it comes to sporty handling, the 2006 Mazda 6 is among the best in the class. It offers better road holding than the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, and Nissan Altima, as well as better transient response in quick lane-change maneuvers.
The four-cylinder Mazda 6i is a hoot to drive. Order it with the five-speed manual and the fun zone starts at about 4000 rpm, where the engine is very responsive. The 2.3-liter, double-overhead-cam engine loves to rev and acceleration is on par with that of other four-cylinder mid-size sedans. Below 3000 rpm, however, the four-cylinder lacks strong throttle response.
The 3.0-liter V6 in the Mazda 6s greatly increases the fun. It benefits from continuously variable valve timing (VVT) for its intake camshaft, providing strong torque at low rpm, a willingness to rev, good gas mileage, and nice sounds from the air intake and dual exhausts. The Mazda V6 doesn't feel like it has as much low-rpm torque as the Toyota and Honda V6s, but it loves to rev and it's a lot of fun to drive. Mazda retuned the V6 slightly for lower emissions for 2006 and says tractability has been improved. Torque has been increased to 199 pound-feet at 5000 rpm (from 192). Rated horsepower has dropped by five to 215 horsepower.
The six-speed automatic is really smooth, yet shifting is crisp. All those gears provide improved gear spacing for the V6, keeping it in its power band under all circumstances. Having six forward gears allowed Mazda engineers to select low ratios for first and second to maximize off-the-line acceleration, tall top gears for effortless cruising, and mid-range gears optimized for snappy acceleration from highway speeds. The Sport Shift mode allows the driver to shift manually by pulling back to upshift, pushing forward to downshift.
Handling is excellent. The Mazda 6 doesn't lean much in corners, body roll being nicely controlled by the front and rear anti-roll bars. The Mazda 6 comes standard with a sports suspension with double wishbones up front and a lateral-link layout in the rear and coil springs all around. Tires on the base sedans are generously sized at 205/60VR16, with beefier 215/50VR17s on V6, Sport and Grand Touring models, including all hatchbacks and wagons.
Grip is tenacious, right up to the point where the front end pushes, telling you to lighten up, and this understeer doesn't occur until you've reached competition-level speeds. The amount of power-steering assist backs off the faster you go, to give good road feel, although it's still on the light side at high speeds.
Though it's more fun to drive, the Mazda 6 doesn't feel quite as refined as the Accord. Ride quality is generally good, bit it can get a little jouncy on certain types of pavement and some road vibration comes through. Road noise is relatively pronounced on broken pavement, especially with the Sport trim. Wind noise comes through as well; we noticed this was particularly true with Sport trim and suspect the aerodynamic enhancements may be the cause. None of this is as uncomfortable as it sounds when described in print, and the upside is that the driver is closely attuned to the driving conditions. The Mazda 6 comes with excellent brakes. The brake pedal has a progressive feel in normal everyday driving.
The Mazdaspeed6 is very enjoyable on a winding road. Its turbocharged 2.3-liter engine is rated at 274 horsepower at 5500 rpm and 280 pound-feet of torque at 3000 rpm. This impressive power is sent through all four wheels resulting in rapid acceleration. It's great fun to accelerate through a corner. The engine features direct injection, which squirts the juice directly into the combustion chamber rather than into the intake manifold. The intake system handles only dry air, so the turbocharger can deliver a good percentage of its 15.6 psi as low as 2500 rpm. Indeed, the Mazdaspeed engine has superb low-end torque that adds to the driving enjoyment. The power seems to flatten out at the upper rev range, but it doesn't matter as you simply upshift into the next of six gears using the buttery smooth close-ratio gearbox.
Subtle re-tuning of the entire car's structure improves torsional stiffness by 50 percent. Compared to the garden-variety Mazda 6, spring rates are 25 percent stiffer up front, 37 percent stiffer in the rear, with complementary increases in damping rates and in the thickness of the anti-roll bars. The result is tight handling. The ride is firm enough that writing or drinking a cup of cappuccino aren't easy on most roads. You hear road irregularities but the sound is damped. In short, it's not damped as nicely as a BMW, but it should be fine for everyday driving and the daily commute. Big brakes (with 12.6-inch discs in front and 12.4-inch in the rear) provide good stopping power and are easy to modulate.
The Mazda6 features Triple-H frame construction for protection during collisions from all angles. It has been awarded the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHSTA) highest rating (5/5 stars) in frontal crash tests of 35 mph into a fixed barrier.
The Mazda Mazda6 comes standard with the following features:
- Anti-lock breaking system (ABS)
- Traction control
- Dual-stage front airbags
- Break away component technology
Side-impact and side-curtain airbags are optional
Reliability and Maintenance
Mazda warrants that new 2007 Mazda cars and trucks will be free of defects with normal use and prescribed maintenance for 36 months or 36,000 miles. Mazda also warrants that the Powertrain Components of new 2007 Mazda cars and trucks will be free of defects with normal use and prescribed maintenance for 60 months or 60,000 miles.
Interior and Comforts
The front seats of the Mazda6 are comfortable through a wide range of adjustments and have been improved for 2006. They are suitable for hard driving, with good upper body support and enough lower back support with the optional lumbar adjuster for all-day comfort. The leather Package adds cowhide to all the right places, with thankful perforations on the seating surfaces.
The rear seats are quite comfortable, whether in the sedan, hatchback or wagon. There's more than 96 cubic feet of useable space inside the Mazda6 sedan, according to the EPA measuring system, and that translates to plenty of room for four. You can squeeze in five in a pinch.
The interior design is complemented by carbon fiber, titanium and body-color finishes. The optional electroluminescent gauges are illuminated in red light, but are conventional white-on-black during the day, with nice, large and pleasing graphics. Switchgear is labeled well, legible during the day and illuminated in red at night. The heating/air conditioning system is easily controlled by three big knobs. The Bose radio does not look upscale, however, with shiny black buttons that are flush-mounted and similar in appearance. The seat heater switches are tucked away on the center console, however. Lots of open and covered storage is available, and the seat pockets and door pockets are huge. Cup holders are provided in the front and rear center consoles as well as in the door pockets.
The MazdaSpeed6 features exclusive bucket seats up front, scuff plates with stainless-steel inserts, and aluminum pedals. The cloth interior is a nice mix of fabrics, with durable looking seat bolsters and attractive door fabrics. The available Advanced Keyless Entry and Start System allows owners to open locked doors and activate the ignition just by having the electronic key with them.
The trunk of the sedan measures 15.2 cubic feet, and the compact, lateral-link rear suspension allows for a perfectly flat trunk floor. The trunk lid is designed with hinges that do not impinge on the storage space. The standard 60/40 split rear seat folds to expand luggage space. The release levers are in the trunk for security and the seat backs are spring-loaded so they fold instantly with just one pull of the release. The Mazdaspeed6 sacrifices fold-down rear seats for increased body rigidity. The 5-Door hatchback has a rear liftgate that opens to reveal a covered cargo compartment with 22.0 cubic feet of space, nearly 50 percent more than that of the sedan. Cargo space more than doubles to 58.7 cubic feet when the rear seats are folded, nearly as much as the wagon. The 60/40 split seats fold with the touch of a button and no need to remove the head rests revealing a nearly flat cargo floor. Cargo tie-downs and two hidden compartments in the side panels add versatility.
The Sport Wagon offers 33.7 cubic feet of luggage space with the rear seats up and a generous 60.4 cubic feet with them folded. Open the liftgate and you can stand fully upright, a really nice feature and a pleasant surprise the first time you discover it. Adding greatly to the wagon's utility are a retractable cargo cover shade and a barrier-type net, or dog fence, that emerges from the floor and attaches to the interior roof. Tie-down hooks are provided to secure your cargo.
The 2006 Mazda6 is the sportiest of the midsize sedans. Visually, it has more personality than the Accord and other midsize cars. It has a strong front-end treatment that's consistent with other Mazdas. Cat's-eye headlamps and big, multi-element tail lamps enhance the action at each corner of the car.
2006 brings some styling revisions to the Mazda6 line. New headlamps, revised tail lamps, new front and rear bumper fascia, and new side sills add more edge to the styling. Fog lamps are incorporated into the front spoiler. A new sport grille, dark gray headlamp bezels, and a rear spoiler add distinction for top-line models. Also, 18-inch wheels have been added to the options list. Bright Island Blue and Tungsten Gray have been added to the color palette for 2006, and we really liked the new Dark Cherry, which will be mistaken for black in some lighting conditions.
The shape of the Mazda6 is truly fetching when painted a hot color and accented by Sport-level trim, which includes a body-color front grille, gray headlight bezels, clear-lens halogen fog lamps, dual oval exhaust outlets, front and rear air dams, and side sill extensions. These bits are also available on base and Grand Touring models. The outside door handles are well designed and easy to grab.
The 5-Door hatchback features an extended rear roof pillar sloping rearward into a raised deck lid. As Mazda says, it looks fast even when standing still. Casual observers may not notice the difference between the 5-Door and the sedan.
The Sport Wagon looks sleek, clean and aggressive, if not as overtly sporty as the hatchback. The new MazdaSpeed6 is distinguished by its slightly lowered stance and by its exclusive front fenders, hood, and grille, among other body panels. An aerodynamic front bumper and lower grille section hint at high performance, while flared side skirts draw attention to 18-inch aluminum wheels. A rear bumper with built-in diffuser for the integrated exhaust pipe combines with a compact, functional rear lip spoiler to finish off the exterior package.
Styles and Options
The Mazda Mazda6 is available as a four-door sedan, five-door hatchback, or five-door wagon. There are 6 trims available: 6i, 6i Sport, 6i Grand Touring, 6s, 6s Sport, and MazdaSpeed.
The 6i sedan
- 160-horsepower 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine
- A five-speed manual transmission is standard
- Air conditioning
- Cruise control
- Six-speaker AM/FM/CD audio
- Tilt and telescope leather-wrapped steering wheel
- Leather wrapped shift knob
- Power windows, mirrors and door locks
- Remote Keyless Entry
- 16-inch steel wheels
- Eight-way power driver's seat with manual lumbar,
- 17-inch alloy wheels
- P215/50R17 all-season tires
- Anti-theft alarm.
6i Sport sedan/hatchback
- 160-horsepower 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine
- Five-speed automatic transmission (a manual transmission is not available)
- Five-Speed Manual IS available
- Front side-impact and side-curtain airbags
- Eight-way power driver's seat
- Fog lights
- Bright-tip exhaust outlets
- Side-sill extensions
- Wing-type rear spoiler
- P215/50VR17 tires
- 17-inch aluminum rims
- Rear wiper and washer
6i Grand Touring sedan
- Leather upholstery
- Heated power driver's seat
- Bose stereo
- Heated mirrors
- Power glass sunroof
- Red-illuminated electroluminescent gauges
- The Sport bits are dropped, but are available as options.
The 6s models:
(6s sedan, 6s wagon, 6s Sport sedan, 6s Sport hatchback, and 6s Sport wagon)
- Identically equipped to their 6i counterparts
- Come with the 215-horsepower 3.0-liter V6
- Five-speed manual and six-speed automatic is optional
Grand Sport package:
- Combines the features of Grand Touring and Sport models
- High-intensity discharge headlamps
The 6s Grand Touring sedan and 6s Grand Touring wagon come standard with the six-speed automatic.
A high-performance version of the sedan that comes standard with:
- Direct-injection 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine turbocharged to 274 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque
- Six-speed manual transmission
- Electronically controlled all-wheel drive
- Electronic stability control
- Enhanced brakes and suspension
The MazdaSpeed6 is available in Sport or Grand Touring trim. Both come with the Bose audio.
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WikiCars Contributor Favorites
Mazda Manufacturer Sites
- Mazda6 - Official US Site