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Since its launch, the Mazda 6 has been a favorite among those looking for a midsize sedan with a little more verve. Characterized by its edgy good looks and sporty handling, the 6 also provides the requisite amounts of comfort and features expected in the class. It has been criticized, though, for not offering enough power from its optional 3.0-liter V6. To compensate, Mazda introduced the high-performance Mazdaspeed 6 in 2006.
Produced for just two years, the Mazdaspeed 6 featured a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, all-wheel drive, a limited-slip rear differential, larger brakes, a sport-tuned suspension and subtle body modifications. The result was a performance-tuned sedan well suited for driving enthusiasts who needed a usable backseat but couldn't (or wouldn't) pay for a much more expensive sport sedan.
Most Recent Mazda Mazdaspeed 6
Compared to boy racer mods made to cars like the Subaru WRX STI or Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, the styling tweaks made to the Mazdaspeed 6 are subtle. There are no hood scoops or rear wings the size of mom's ironing board. In fact, its trunk lid spoiler is noticeably smaller than the regular Mazda 6's wing. The most noticeable transformations were made to the front fascia to accommodate a bigger airdam and a taller hood needed for the turbo's intercooler. Fifteen-spoke 18-inch wheels and larger dual tailpipes round out the visual spice.
The biggest changes are found under the hood, where a turbocharged and direct-injected version of Mazda's 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine pumps out an impressive 274 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. Zero to 60 mph goes by in 6.1 seconds, with the quarter-mile achieved in 14.3 seconds. Though the regular 6 is front-wheel drive, the Mazdaspeed version gets an exclusive all-wheel-drive system to prevent torque steer and improve handling. It 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. The driver can also select Normal, Sports and Snow modes for optimized traction. A limited-slip rear differential borrowed from the Mazda RX-8 rounds out the handling modifications.
The Mazdaspeed 6 was available in Sport and Grand Touring models. Inside, there are few differences from the standard Mazda 6 cabin, which is perfectly acceptable due to its good build quality, classy patterned plastics and stylish red lighting. The front seats are sporty and comfortable, though the rear hiproom and shoulder room are tight compared to other midsize family sedans. Both trims come equipped with xenon headlamps, automatic climate control, a Bose stereo with six-CD changer and a tilt/telescoping steering wheel with audio controls. The Grand Touring adds leather, an eight-way power driver seat, heated front seats and keyless ignition. Navigation, satellite radio, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a moonroof are options on the Grand Touring.
In reviews, we were impressed with the Mazdaspeed 6's combination of performance, practicality and value. Its handling and mostly lag-free turbocharged acceleration impressed, as did its roomy interior and subtle exterior that allows for discreet performance. There are drawbacks, however, and most have to do with its everyday use. The steering and clutch are heavy, making this 6 an iffy choice for work week stop-and-go traffic. There's also no automatic transmission offered.
Past Mazda Mazdaspeed 6 models
The Mazdaspeed 6 sedan was all-new for the 2006 model year and remained unchanged through its brief production run.