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With its sharp handling, ripping performance and sub-$30,000 price tag, the 2007 Mazdaspeed 6 is an excellent choice for driving enthusiasts who need a car with a usable backseat, provided its heavy steering and clutch aren't too much to handle during your daily commute.
Outstanding balance and grip through the turns, strong brakes, powerful turbocharged engine, subtle styling cues allow discreet performance.
No automatic transmission offered, engine's power band drops off before redline, heavy steering and clutch stroke, rear seat doesn't fold.
Available MAZDASPEED MAZDA6 Models
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An exciting new addition to the Mazda 6 lineup just last year, the Mazdaspeed 6 enters 2007 with no changes.
The standard Mazda 6, with its sporty handling and edgy style, has been a solid choice the past few years for consumers wanting a midsize sedan with a little extra pizzazz. Last year, Mazda went a step further by giving the car the Mazdaspeed treatment. A true sport sedan, the high-performance 2007 Mazdaspeed 6 combines the room and comfort expected in this class with the thrill of a turbocharged, direct-injected engine that pumps out an impressive 274 horsepower.
Normally, the performance of a front-drive car like the 6 would be limited by torque steer and tire spin if that much power were applied to the rear wheels. Thankfully, Mazda chose to equip the Mazdaspeed 6 with an all-wheel-drive system that can vary the power split from front to rear as needs dictate. Further underscoring Mazda's intentions for the car are a beefed-up chassis that's 50 percent more torsionally rigid than the standard 6's, a limited-slip rear differential borrowed from the Mazda RX-8 and the requisite sport suspension, big wheels and big brakes.
A mature approach was taken in regards to body modifications -- there's no garish hood scoop or massive rear wing tacked onto the body -- but a deep front airdam, side sill extensions, rear deck lid spoiler and 18-inch alloys get the message across that this is a serious performance machine.
With the Mazda 6 already one of the best-handling midsize sedans on the market, it's no surprise that the Mazdaspeed version delivers enough excitement to keep an enthusiast grinning from ear to ear on back roads, while offering enough room for his kids in the backseat. In terms of size and performance, the 2007 Mazdaspeed 6's most direct competitor is the Subaru Legacy GT. Most drivers will find the Mazdaspeed more involving in terms of steering feel and handling, though the Subie has a more linear power band and its lighter steering and clutch pedal stroke can be easier to deal with day to day. The Mazda sedan is also a good choice for enthusiasts who want something more agile than the bulky Dodge Charger R/T or those put off by the boy-racer styling, harder suspensions and smaller backseats found in the Subaru WRX STI and Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution.
The 2007 Mazdaspeed 6 is a midsize sport sedan. It's offered in Sport and Grand Touring trim levels. Standard features on Sport models include 18-inch alloy wheels, xenon HID headlights, sport seats, automatic climate control, cruise control, full power accessories, a 200-watt Bose audio system with a six-disc CD changer, and a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with mounted audio controls. Step up to the Grand Touring trim and you get leather upholstery, an eight-way power driver seat, heated front seats and a keyless startup system. The more significant options include a navigation system, Sirius satellite radio, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a moonroof (Grand Touring only).
Under the Mazdaspeed 6's bulging hood resides a turbocharged, direct-injected 2.3-liter inline four-cylinder engine. Output is impressive at 274 hp and 280 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission (no automatic is available) sends the power through Mazda's Active Torque-Split all-wheel-drive system. The AWD system automatically varies the power split between 100 percent to the front wheels and a 50/50 front/rear ratio, depending on factors such as traction, steering angle and yaw rate. There are also Normal, Sports and Snow modes to optimize traction for the road conditions. A limited-slip rear differential is also part of the package. Although the power drops off earlier than expected (about 1000 rpm short of the seven grand redline), the 6 pulls hard through the midrange, allowing it to sprint to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds and run the quarter in 14.3 seconds.
Antilock disc brakes, stability control, seat-mounted side airbags, full-length head curtain airbags and whiplash-reducing front seats are all standard. In NHTSA crash tests, the Mazda 6 scored a perfect five stars for frontal-impact protection. In IIHS frontal-offset crash testing, the Mazda earned the top rating of "Good." Neither agency conducted side-impact tests on a 6 fitted with side airbags.
Inside the cabin, you'll find a few extra trim details that help differentiate the 2007 Mazdaspeed 6 from other 6 models. Easy-to-use controls keep things simple for the driver, although the stereo's display can be tough to read at a glance, as it also shows the climate control settings and clock. The aggressively bolstered front seats are supportive and comfortable. In back, taller adults may complain about a lack of legroom, but there's plenty of room for children. Due to the additional space requirement of the AWD mechanicals, the 6's trunk capacity drops to 12.4 cubic feet. It also lacks the regular sedan's split-folding rear-seat capability.
Although there's a slight amount of turbo lag off the line, acceleration is strong thereafter, with a midrange that borders on explosive. With the premature power drop-off up high, frequent shifting is the best way to enjoy the Mazdaspeed 6 on back roads. Until you acclimate, you might find the short-stroke clutch's engagement abrupt -- something to keep in mind during your test-drive. Handling has always been a strength for the 6, and the Mazdaspeed 6's dynamics are even more competent. Its firmer suspension allows very little body roll around corners, and the precise steering offers plenty of feedback, provided you don't mind giving the wheel a little extra muscle. Add in a sticky set of 18-inch tires and an all-wheel-drive system to make the most of the power and there's no shortage of thrills on twisty back roads.
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