Sunday, April 26, 2009

Mazda6: A sporty performer adorned with luxury

Mazda has one of the sportiest overall lineups in the auto industry.

And the company's latest version of its Mazda6 midsize sedan is a shining example of its "Zoom-Zoom" commitment to making athletic, good-looking, fun vehicles.

The Mazda6 is larger and more powerful than its previous version, and is more agile as well.

And Mazda might not be known as a luxury brand, but this sedan, at the top of its trim levels, is as much of a luxury car as many other competitors in that field.

The Mazda6 comes with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine or a 3.7-liter V-6.

This version is four inches longer, giving the sedan more rear-seat room and a larger trunk.

Mazda also said it wanted to enhance the quality of contruction, body rigidity and refinement.


And, the handling is now even sportier and the rigidity is more firmly grounded.

Mazda says it used high-strength steel to stiffen the body.

Mazda says it used seven design teams in four studios to come up with the new Mazda6.

The company said it tuned its handling at Mazda Laguna Seca race track -- the track it owns in Monterey, Calif.

The track is known for its thrilling twists and turns, including one section appropriately called the Corkscrew.

Most people who drive this car won't encounter anything quite that challenging, but it's nice to know that when you do encounter switchbacks and other road drama, the Mazda6 will be more than up to the task.

The four-cylinder engine makes 170 horsepower and 167 pounds-feet of torque, while the 3.7-liter V-6 cranks out 272 horsepower and 269 pounds-feet.

Both engines are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with manual shifting capability.

In the four-cylinder, there is also a six-speed manual transmission.

Mazda says it expects the four-cylinder to account for 75 percent of the sales, and we can see why.

The power is terrific and the gas mileage is very nice.

Our tester posted EPA numbers of 20 mpg city, 29 highway.

Spend a little more, though, and enjoy the thrills of the bigger engine, without a huge hit taken in mpg.

The four-cylinder model starts around $18,550, and increases to about $20,250 with the Sport edition.

Other trim levels include the Touring and Grand Touring, which our tester was, and it carried a sticker price of $29,340, but was fully loaded and quite luxurious.

Each Mazda6 comes standard with traction control and stability control.

While Mazda faces lots of formidable competition in the midsize sedan category, from vehicles such as the Chevrolet Malibu, Ford Fusion, Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, for value and, yes, sportiness, it's hard to beat the Mazda6

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