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)
Fast. Fast again. Do not buy for a teenager! So far, I love this car. I've only had it 1500 miles, so it's too short for a reliabilty rating. I'm an older adult who appreciates a fast 4dr sedan that doesn't look like a toy boy racer. It's understated looks and power are great. Rides smooth and quiet. In fact a little too quiet, I may have to open the exhaust a bit for more of the deep power sound it deserves. It sticks to corners like it's glued to the asphalt. But the ride is very comfortable, a nice blend of sport and comfort.
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..