I was very content with my 2005 Mazda 6 until I test drove a Speed 6. It's handling, acceleration, and ability to take bumps and curves is unbelievable. It takes all the attributes of other recent small muscle cars and combines them with a big car feel reminiscent of a larger Audi or Saab. Although externally a Mazda 6, and sharing a similar interior and weight it drives completely differently. This car does 0 - 60 mph in 6.2 seconds.
I just purchased a used 2007 Mazdaspeed GT with 24K miles. My wife didn't like the way it looked and wanted an Acura TL. I convinced her to give it a try for a week (Carmax gave us 5 days to return (!) the car with no fee). She drove it home and was blown away. She said it felt like driving a fighter jet. This car has visceral appeal that wins you over. However, rides a bit rough on bad city roads and a bit noisy on bad freeways (good roads are actually really nice, though). Amazing acceleration at highway/street speeds and LESS shifting because of torque. Only thing...I was worried by reports of some reliability issues...well, heard a small noise and took it in...see below...
I used to be the proud owner of a 2005 RX-8, which I loved, but due to reliability issues (blown engine at 36K miles) and poor fuel economy I decided to look for a replacement. It took something really special for me to give up my RX-8, and the Mazdaspeed 6 was just that. This car is faster than my RX-8 and way more torque down low. Handling is real close to sports car territory even though it is a sedan. More of a grown up hot rod, but a little too much so, a bit more flash would be nice. Also very luxurious, tons of features, and great fuel economy for it's performance level (0-60 time close to a Mustang GT and avgs between 23 and 26 mpg most of the time, try getting that in a stang)
I bought this used for my 16yo who has been learning to drive a stick on my Dakota 4x4. He does quite well, but he really lights up when he gets behind the wheel of my A8.... hence a sporty car for his first ride. This is a pocket rocket.....pulls hard, stops straight, and corners very well. It is comfy, with virtually no creasing of the leather seats. Everything works as it should.. a testament to build quality. A previous owner had an additional shock stabilizer on the fronts....sheared off a bolt when he removed it but it does not affect handling. You can feel the rear diff mechanicals kick in..
I have had the car for about a year. Came very close to buying an 07 BMW 335i but for about 12,000 dollars less got the speed6 instead. So far it has been great. It is certainly the most fun and reliable car I can think of for less than $20k. Bought mine with 24k miles and have 34k now. My concern is long term reliability and so far I have had no problems. I still get tempted to get a BMW but when I read about reliability issues I stay put. I don't have time to have an unreliable car, yet want fun also. So far so good