About 30 seconds after my Sangria Red Mazda6 test car entered winding,
two-lane Crow Canyon Road, I remembered why people buy Mazdas. The
five-passenger family sedan handled like a bigger version of the
legendary Miata sports car.
From its hooded
instrument panel tucked behind the steering wheel to the quick shifts of
the manual six-speed, the new for 2009 Mazda6 lopes down the road like a
panther on the prowl.
In a good sales year,
nearly a million people grab Toyota Camrys and Honda Accords - fine cars
- but Mazda is different. Maybe that Zoom Zoom bit isnít just
advertising hype. Something about the taut steering, stable cornering
and responsive throttle - whatís not to like?
Mazda has transformed
the 2009 Mazda6 to match the sharp, undulating beauty of its RX8, with
separated-out front fenders, sharp geometric grille, and a long, almost
fastback roofline. Itís significantly bigger, giving rear-seat
passengerís generous legroom. Stretch out and enjoy the ride.
You can buy the Mazda6
in a sedan only, at this point. The wagon version did not make the
transition to the new body.
The model lines are
split neatly into i and s, differentiated by engine size. The ďiĒ models
employ a 2.5-liter, dual-overhead-cam, 16-valve four-cylinder with
variable valve technology (VVT). It puts out a respectable 170
horsepower and 167 lb.-ft. of torque. The ďsĒ models sport a 3.7-liter
dual-overhead-cam V6 with a much more tire-burning 272 horses and 269
lb.-ft. of torque. That makes a significant difference in performance,
despite adding about 240 pounds.
You can get an i model
in four grades and the s in just three, because the four-cylinder line
includes the SV model. It helps the entry price, including destination
charge, below the $20,000 bar. At $19,220 that should give you years of
entertaining motoring, but you can get a lot more by moving up to the
Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring levels, which are essentially shared
with the V6-equipped s line.
Move up to Sport and
youíll get steering wheel audio controls, keyless entry, an audio jack,
and a couple of other things. The Touring upgrades the wheels from
16-inch steel with covers to 17-inch alloys (18ís for the s), eight-way
power driverís seat, a leather steering wheel and shift knob, trip
computer and a few more items.
The Grand Touring tops
both lines, bringing in the things you donít really need but find you
canít live without once you have them: rain-sensitive wipers,
extra-bright Xenon headlamps, heated outside mirrors, dual-zone climate
control, Bluetooth phone and Internet connection, and automatic blind
This last feature
should help drivers avoid running into other cars in their left- and
right-hand blind spots. A light on the mirror indicates if thereís a car
there, and if you put on your turn signal and head that way, an audible
reminder gets you to pay better attention. In my i Grand Touring tester,
I grew to trust the system (but turned to check anyway).
Opting for the
4-cylinder engine not only saves you money (more on this shortly), but
it improves your fuel mileage. With the manual transmission - available
with the i only - you get 20 City, 29 Highway - very nice for a
3,300-pound sedan. The five-speed automatic improves on that, with 21
and 30 respectively. The V6 s models earn 17 City, 25 Highway.
The EPAís Green Vehicle
Guide awards a 6 on both Greenhouse Gas and Air Pollution for the
manually-equipped model, but the automatic does it one better, with a 7
on the Greenhouse Gas score. That gives automatic-equipped four-cylinder
Mazda6 models the coveted ďSmartwayĒ designation. One version of the
automatic-equipped i is available with a special engine that earns a 9.5
for Air Pollution. Find that one and feel really good about driving it.
The Mazda6 proudly
scores top level five-star ratings in all of the government safety tests
- frontal and side crash as well as rollover. Thatís another thing to
feel good about. Of course you get the usual set of airbags, antilock
brakes, and also dynamic stability control. That puts the carís computer
to work keeping an eye on what your wheels are doing in relation to what
the steering wheel is telling them. It automatically steps in to help
you stay out of trouble.
Prices, once you pass
on the SV model, start at $21,220 for the i Sport and run through the
$25,880 for the i Grand Touring. The top model and level is the s Grand
Touring, at $29,235.
Once again, Mazda gives
buyers a little more fun for the same money as the mass sellers. Built
in Flat Rock, Michigan, using a Mexican four-cylinder engine and a
Japanese manual transmission, itís a model citizen of the world supply
chain and is a world class car while staying out of the luxury price
level. Zoom Zoom.
By Steve Schaefer ©
AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
provided by Tony Leopardo © AutoWire.Net
Mazda Home Page
Column Name: A world
class car while staying out of the luxury price level
Topic: The 2009 Mazda6
Word Count: 885
Photo Caption: The
Photo Credits: Mazda6
Series #: 2009 - 40
the Microsoft Word version here: 2009
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