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Four new models join the Mazda 6 lineup: a new MAZDASPEED 6 with a 274-hp turbocharged engine, 6-speed manual transmission, and all-wheel drive; a lower-priced V-6-powered "s" model; and high-end Grand Sport versions for both 6i and 6s models. All models get mild styling revisions and slightly larger front brakes. The 4-cylinder's automatic is now a 5-speed unit, up from last year's four, and the V-6 engine gets a slight increase in torque and decrease in horsepower.
The Mazda 6 was first introduced in 2003, a replacement for the 626. Disguised as it was by what some may consider bland styling and sometimes derided for a lack of horsepower from its V-6 engine, few people realized that the 626 was a driver's car, with exceptional steering and crisp handling. When the Mazda 6 made its debut, it was clear that the wallflower days were over. Like other recent Mazda makeovers, the Mazda 6 wears its sporting intentions on its sleeve with aggressive styling that has been tweaked for 2006. While most American-market midsize cars are only sold as a four-door sedan, the Mazda 6's European-style lineup also includes five-door hatchback and wagon versions.
The Mazda 6i is powered by a 2.3L four-cylinder engine. Its output of 160 hp is just 10 shy of the old 626's 2.5L V-6. The 6s gets a 2.0L V-6 and changes to the exhaust system for 2006 increased torque to 199 lb.-ft. (up from 190), but decreased horsepower to 215 (down from 220). Both engines are available with either a 5-speed manual or an automatic transmission (five speeds for the four-cylinder, six speeds for the V-6).
The MAZDASPEED 6 sedan employs Mazda's 2.3L turbocharged DISI (Direct Injection Spark Ignition) engine. Direct fuel injection, which sprays fuel directly into the cylinder (as opposed to spraying it into the intake manifold just before it enters the cylinder), increases throttle response and fuel economy and lowers emissions. Total power output is 274 hp and 280 lb.-ft. of torque. The all-wheel-drive system uses an electronic differential to direct up to 50 percent of the engine's output to the rear wheels. Suspension modifications give the MAZDASPEED 6 improved handling, a firmer ride, and a lower ride height. Other features include 18-inch alloy wheels, electronic stability control, bigger brakes, and unique styling inside and out. The MAZDASPEED 6 will be sold in two versions: base Sport and up-level Grand Touring, which consists of leather seats, heated front seats, 8-way power driver's seat with manual lumbar adjustment, heated mirrors, and an advanced keyless entry and start system.
The Mazda 6 is one of the more unusual competitors in the Midsize Conventional segment. In a field where buyers favor utilitarian cars that offer room and reliability, the Mazda 6's sporting intentions make it unique. The Mazda 6 competes against 19 other models in the segment.
According to the J.D. Power and Associates Sales Report,SM the Toyota Camry's 376,803 sales made it the best-selling model in the segment for 2005. It was followed by the Honda Accord (369,293) and Nissan Altima (255,371). The Mazda 6 sold 71,447 units in 2005. Other top-selling competitors in this segment include the Chevrolet Malibu, Ford Taurus, Hyundai Sonata, Pontiac G6, Buick LaCrosse, Subaru Legacy and Outback, Chrysler Sebring Sedan/Convertible, and Dodge Stratus.
|i Grand Sport (A5) (Discontinued)||5 speed automatic||$0||153-hp / 2.3L 4-cyl||24/31|
|i (M5)||5 speed manual||$19,110||160-hp / 2.3L 4-cyl||23/32|
|i Sport (M5)||5 speed manual||$21,810||160-hp / 2.3L 4-cyl||23/32|
|s (M5)||5 speed manual||$23,010||215-hp / 3.0L 6-cyl||19/27|
|s Sport (M5)||5 speed manual||$23,910||215-hp / 3.0L 6-cyl||19/27|
|i Grand Touring (A5)||5 speed automatic||$24,710||160-hp / 2.3L 4-cyl||24/31|
|s Grand Sport (M5)||5 speed manual||$27,110||215-hp / 3.0L 6-cyl||19/27|
|s Grand Touring (A6)||6 speed automatic||$27,260||215-hp / 3.0L 6-cyl||20/27|