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Used Mazda 6 review: 2006-2008

After years in the motoring doldrums with a range of well-built – but bland – cars, Mazda burst back into life early in the new millennium with a whole new energy and more youthful outlook on life. The company's entire range was renewed and every model proved successful, from the cute-as-a-button Mazda 2, the great 3, to the engaging 6. It was as if the company awoke from a deep slumber with a new drive and energy that powered it back to the forefront of car shoppers' minds.

The stylish mid-sized Mazda 6 made as big a splash as any of the new models with its compelling blend of practicality, comfort and refinement, but then along came the MPS sports sedan that powered the 6 to a whole new level of performance to complement its natural sophistication.

MODEL WATCH

The mid-sized Mazda 6 first burst onto the market in 2002 and was instrumental in helping to revitalise the Mazda brand. It was comfortable, refined, with good road manners and performance, and looked great.

But the arrival of the MPS in 2006 added a whole new dimension to the prestige sedan, transforming it into a sophisticated and technically advanced sporting sedan. MPS stood for Mazda Performance Series, a sort of special vehicles offshoot of the mainstream model range.

The MPS-tuned 6 wasn't a hard-edged sports car; it was more a luxury mid-sized car with a sporty attitude. Viewed from afar the MPS didn't scream 'hoon' as some sports sedans could do, its external enhancements were tastefully done and relatively subtle to make sure it stayed within the bounds of prestige appeal.

There was a deep front spoiler with a gaping mouth to feed the much- needed air to the turbocharged engine, there were fog lamps, and a small spoiler on the boot lid, and big 18-inch alloy wheels, but the overall effect was one of refinement.

Under the bonnet the 2.2-litre four-cylinder was boosted through the application of a turbocharger; the resulting output climbing to 190 kW at 5500 revs and 380 Nm at 3000 revs. It's not that long ago that power and torque of that magnitude would have had young V8 revheads going weak at the knees; the Mazda 6 MPS was indeed a sizzling hot road car.

To put the performance to the road the MPS used a six-speed manual gearbox feeding a computer-controlled all-wheel drive system that kept a watchful eye on road conditions and distributed the drive between the axles for best traction. Unfortunately there was no auto transmission option available.

In addition to the turbocharger the Mazda's engine also boasted direct injection for improved low and mid-range torque. The combination of turbocharger and direct injection delivered strong and smooth performance from low down right through to the upper reaches of the speed range. To cope with the extra zip Mazda beefed up the suspension with re- tuned springs and shocks, as well as bigger stabiliser bars.

With the security of all-wheel drive, standard dynamic skid control, and the sports suspension the MPS enjoyed a firm grasp on the road. The good thing was that while the ride was firmer than the regular Mazda 6, it wasn't by any means uncomfortable. Bigger brakes, together with standard ABS anti-skid electronics, delivered the stopping capability to match the car's performance.

Inside, there was comfortable accommodation for four, there was a good-sized boot out back, and a host of storage possibilities spread throughout the cabin.

Naturally for a car of this class, the MPS had plenty of fruit, including Xenon headlamps, six-disc CD player, climate-control air, alloy sports pedals, and remote central locking with a deadlock function for added security. For even more fruit there was a leather upgrade, which brought with it leather trim, a power driver's seat with memory, seven-speaker sound, and a glass sunroof.

IN THE SHOP

Mazda has always been renowned for the build quality of its cars and the 6 is no exception. Build quality is usually a good guide to the reliability and durability of a car in service and the 6 is performing without any major concerns. Mazda's servicing and parts costs are not cheap, but they're on a par with other cars in the class.

It's important to check for a service record to make sure the engine in particular has had regular oil and filter changes. Also look for battle scars that often come from the daily grind of city traffic.

IN A CRASH

The MPS boasted a comprehensive safety package with ABS brakes and stability control to help the driver avoid a crunch, and front, side and curtain airbags in the event a crunch came. ANCAP rated the MPS at four stars.

AT THE PUMP

Mazda claimed the MPS would average 10.5 L/100km, which proved pretty close to the mark when it came time to road test it. It should be noted that the MPS needs 95-octane PULP fuel.

LOOK FOR

  • Sports performance
  • Powerful turbo engine
  • Awesome road holding
  • Good build quality
  • Mazda reliability.

THE BOTTOM LINE: A great driving sedan that is also at home in the hurly-burly of the daily commute.

RATING: 80/100

Pricing

Year Price From Price To
2008 $5,060 $14,520
2007 $4,730 $13,310
2006 $4,510 $12,650

View all Mazda 6 pricing and specifications

Pricing Guides

$6,490
Based on 97 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$2,869
Highest Price
$9,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Classic 2.3L, PULP, 5 SP AUTO $3,490 – 9,990 2006 Mazda 6 2006 Classic Pricing and Specs
Diesel 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP MAN $6,270 – 8,800 2006 Mazda 6 2006 Diesel Pricing and Specs
Luxury 2.3L, PULP, 5 SP AUTO $2,999 – 9,990 2006 Mazda 6 2006 Luxury Pricing and Specs
Luxury Sports 2.3L, PULP, 5 SP AUTO $5,990 – 7,990 2006 Mazda 6 2006 Luxury Sports Pricing and Specs
Graham Smith
Contributing Journalist

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