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Used Mazda 6 review: 2002-2004

EXPERT RATING
7.8

When Mazda was on its knees there was speculation about its ability to survive, but with new found zoom in a completely renewed model range the company is enjoying the best of times and its future appears rock solid. The mid-sized Mazda 6 is one of the new models that has given the company renewed credibility in the market. It has buyers swarming through showroom doors in search of one of the best looking sedans on the market.

In many ways Mazda’s rebirth can be tracked back to the MX-5 sports car. It set the company on a new course, and its success gave it the confidence to follow a bold new way based around its sporty ‘zoom, zoom’ theme.

There has been the Mazda 2, the Mazda 3, RX8 and the Mazda 6, the mid-sized sedan with the sporty flair. The Mazda 6 and its smaller cousin, the Mazda 3, are now the sporty twins to have if you can’t have the MX-5.

Model watch

With surging fuel prices and the slump in popularity of the traditional big sedans the mid-sized car class has enjoyed resurgence in recent times. The growing popularity of the class, which once seemed doomed, has been driven on by the emergence of some interesting and enjoyable new models such as the Mazda 6.

It’s probably due to the obvious popularity of the BMW 3-Series which has enjoyed boom times in the last decade. Carmakers are not dumb, they can see what’s successful, and most car companies now have a 3-Series equivalent in their model range.

In Mazda’s case it’s the ‘6’, and it has worked a treat, attracting buyers who either can’t afford a BMW or want something different as the blue and white spinner has become a little too common for some.

There is more than a hint of the BMW in the Mazda’s shape, but hey if it works why not borrow it. The borrowing stops when you get the front end, which has the Mazda badge and unique Mazda grille where the Beemer’s kidneys would normally reside.

Begged, borrowed, or simply stolen it matters little as the ‘6’ is a good looking car with lithe sporting lines and a stance that suggests it has plenty of sporting potential on the open road.

Underneath it sports double wishbone front suspension with a multilink independent rear set-up that gives the ‘6’ sporting handling with impressive response although the ride can be considered hard and little harsh in a normal four-door.

The 2.3-litre four-cylinder double overhead camshaft 16-valve engine is a gem; it loves to be revved when it responds with throaty encouragement.

Peak power is 122 kW at 6500 revs with maximum torque of 207 Nm at 4000 revs, an indication that it is meant to be revved.

Mazda offered a choice of a sweet shifting five-speed manual gearbox and a four-speed automatic transmission.

When pressed to perform the ‘6’ would race to 100 km/h in 10 seconds and required 17 seconds for the standing 400-metre sprint. Its top speed was just on 200 km/h.

Power rack and pinion steering was standard along with four-wheel discs and ABS anti-skid brakes.

Mazda offered an extensive range of models with sedan, hatch and wagon body styles in Limited, Classic, Luxury and Sports variants. All were well equipped, from the entry-level Limited sedan right through to the zippy Sports hatch.

The Limited came with power windows and mirrors, full instrumentation, remote central locking, tilt adjustable steering wheel, immobiliser, air-conditioning, cloth trim and CD sound with four speakers.

Add alloy wheels, trip computer, auto air, velour trim, leather wrapped steering wheel, cruise, and a CD stacker with six speaker and you had a Classic.

Tick the Luxury box and you also got a sunroof, leather trim, power driver’s seat, and Bose premium sound with seven speakers.

The Luxury Sports hatch got all of that plus front fog lamps and fold-flat rear seat.

In the shop

When buying a nearly new car you should approach it much like you would if you were buying new.

The oldest Mazda 6 is now only four years old so you’re looking at a car that is really in the prime of its life, barely run in. If it appears knocked about or neglected in any way walk on, there are plenty more out there to choose from.

Mechanically there is little to go on so far, the majority of complaints about the Mazda 6 relate to brake wear which while high is no higher than any other modern car. You have to get used to machining discs by 30,000 km and replacing them at 50,000-60,000 km.

Check for a service record, which will become important when you come to sell later on.

With such a new car check for the things that will affect its value, things like small dings in the body, tears or marks on the interior trim, scrapes and gouges on the alloy wheel rims. They’re the things that detract from the newness of a car that still has the new feeling.

When test driving make sure the engine runs smoothly and pulls without hesitation, the gearbox changes gear smoothly without any jerking or hesitation, there are no vibrations as the speed increases, and no noises that can’t be explained.

In a crash

An agile chassis with responsive steering, powerful four-wheel disc brakes with anti-skid control and a zesty engine give the ‘6’ driver every chance of avoiding a collision.

Dual front airbags with seat belt pretensioners provide a good level of crash protection in the LImited and Classic models, while the Luxury and Sports models also boasted the protection of side and curtain airbags.

Owners say

Before buying his Mazda 6 Steve McCormack had driven Falcons or Commodores to get the interior space needed to accommodate his 195 cm frame. The car he bought was in as-new condition with a mere 30,000 km on the odometer. He says it has plenty of headroom, rear seat room and boot space, and he likes the Mazda’s looks, its comfort and performance. His only gripes are the noise when accelerating and the steering, which he feels is vague.

Tony Morgan has owned his Mazda 6 wagon for 12 months and loves everything about it. His highlights are the six-stack CD, steering wheel controls, computer readouts and the feeling of class and comfort. He says the six air bags, anti-skid brakes, and precise handling make it a fun, safe car to drive. He averages 8.6 L/KM and says he’s no light-foot! The Mazda 6 has plenty of get up and go, with a great exhaust growl in the upper revs! Also the tiptronic gearbox, so much fun on the Great Ocean Road! Service and spare parts are reasonable and the car has run faultlessly.

Julie Torcasio has loved the Mazda 6 from the day it was released. She took delivery of a 2003 Classic hatch in 2004 which has now done 23,000 km. She says it’s her perfect car, a little bit sporty, but not too big or expensive to run.

Look for

• Mazda’s new found ‘zoom, zoom’

• sweet revving engine

• great engine growl

• agile, responsive handling

• sporty styling

The bottom line

Great looking sports sedan with lots of zip, responsive handling and good resale potential.

Pricing

Year Price From Price To
2004 $4,070 $9,240
2003 $3,960 $8,800
2002 $3,740 $8,360

View all Mazda 6 pricing and specifications

Pricing Guides

$4,299
Based on 15 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$2,980
Highest Price
$5,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Classic 2.3L, PULP, 4 SP AUTO $2,980 – 5,999 2002 Mazda 6 2002 Classic Pricing and Specs
Luxury 2.3L, PULP, 4 SP AUTO $3,780 – 5,990 2002 Mazda 6 2002 Luxury Pricing and Specs
Luxury Sports 2.3L, PULP, 5 SP MAN $4,840 – 7,040 2002 Mazda 6 2002 Luxury Sports Pricing and Specs
Classic 2.3L, PULP, 4 SP AUTO $2,980 – 5,999 2002 Mazda 6 2002 Classic Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.8
Graham Smith
Contributing Journalist

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