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Used Mazda MX6 review: 1991-1997

The 1980s and ’90s weren’t the most outstanding years in automotive styling terms; the cars coming from most companies had a similar look. Some unkind pundits reckoned their rounded curves and soft shapes suggested they’d been flopped from an upturned jelly mould.

That’s a little unfair in the case of the Mazda MX-6 as its lines were smooth and refined and it still looks attractive today, which is a good measure of its design purity.

Underneath the GE MX-6 was an advanced car that had a smooth refined engine and a nicely balanced chassis that promised good road holding.

MODEL WATCH

The second generation GE MX-6 was launched in Australia even before it went on sale in its homeland.

It was quite a step up in size from the car that preceded it, being longer, wider and lower than the outgoing model. Despite its increased size it was actually lighter than its predecessor.

The new MX-6, while developed by the same team as the 626, was a unique model and didn’t share a lot of components with its sedan sibling.

When launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1991 its fulsome curves and soft shape received mixed reviews. For some it was striking, while others interpreted its smooth simple lines as being bland.

Aerodynamically it boasted an efficient 0.32 Cd number, and there was a rear deck lid spoiler to help keep it glued to the road.

Under the shapely bonnet lay a 2.5-litre, 24-valve, double overhead camshaft V6 that produced 121 kW at 5600 revs and 213 Nm at 4800 revs.

The previous MX-6 had a turbo engine that kicked like a mule when you hit 3000 revs, but the new model was much smoother and more refined, and the V6 engine reflected that.

Quieter and smoother, it would nevertheless rev hard when the moment dictated.

The addition of a variable intake system meant the V6 was much smoother right through the rev range. At low speeds the longer intake runners delivered plenty of torque for smooth low and medium speed drivability, while at high engine speeds the shortened runners ensured it had plenty of punch.

Drive was delivered through the front wheels, after being processed through either a five-speed manual gearbox or a four-speed auto.

One of the unique features of the MX-6 was the electronically controlled four-wheel steering. The system determined the correct amount of rear steer from the attitude of the front wheels using a front/rear steering ratio that was optimized according to road speed. At higher speed it worked to make the handling more neutral, while at lower speeds it aided maneuverability and reduced the turning circle.

Later, in 1994, Mazda also released a model with two-wheel steering.

Inside, the MX-6 had a great driving position. The driver was well supported while being comfortable, and there was a well-placed footrest for the left foot.

Mazda’s design team put plenty of work into developing the ergonomics of the interior layout, and it reflects that. The instruments were large and easy-to-read, and the various controls fell to hand pretty well.

With four-wheel discs, and ABS on the four-wheel steer model, the MX-6’s braking was powerful and secure.

The MX-6 packed plenty of fruit, including alloy wheels air-conditioning, front fog lamps, rear spoiler, central locking, power windows and mirrors, a sunroof, and cruise.

In 1994 Mazda added a two-wheel steering model and upgraded the equipment to include a driver’s airbag and a sound system with CD player.

IN THE SHOP

Little seems to go wrong with the MX-6, which is probably a refection of its build quality. The problems that do occur are mostly minor and shouldn’t deter anyone from buying one.

The most common problem reported is the failure of the air intake tube, while the bypass air control valve and the ignitor occasionally give trouble. If the car won’t start check the ignitor, that’s the most likely cause of the problem.

The engine is generally bulletproof, but check for signs of infrequent oil changes. Sludge in the engine can be killer so make sure the oil has been changed on a regular basis.

It’s also important that the cam timing belt be changed as recommended.

Like the engine the gearbox, driveline and suspension seems to give little trouble. There are odd reports about hard shifts between first and second on autos, but the auto is generally sound.

With plenty of zinc-alloy steel used in the body rust isn’t a real problem.

IN A CRASH

The MX-6’s balanced chassis, precise steering and powerful brakes provide a potent primary safety package. ABS on the four-wheel steer coupes adds a further layer of safety.

All models had a driver’s airbag after the 1994 update.

OWNERS SAY

Some minor oil leaks after 120,000 km are the only things that Philip Trengrove has had to attend to apart from routine maintenance on his 1992 MX-6. It’s still one of the best looking cars on the road, he says, and it’s performance on the open road or around town is exceptional. For a two-seater coupe it has plenty of room in the rear seat, the turning circle with the four-wheel steering is sensational, and he loves the security of the steel roof and the practicality of the sunroof.

Gary and Lois Radley bought their 1996 MX-6 manual two-wheel steer in 2005 when it had done 118,000 km. It has now done 130,000 km. They were sold on the shape and its apparent quality. Its longish wheelbase results in a very smooth ride, even on low profile tyres, and for a front-wheel drive it has very neutral handling. The engine is unbelievable, Gary says. The variable intake manifold enables it to be driven round town in second and fourth only, while it pulls strongly if you plant the foot. Gary also says the fuel economy is excellent.

LOOK FOR

• smooth torquey engine

• good build quality

• robust and reliable

• enduring looks

• quite roomy for two-door coupe

THE BOTTOM LINE

Well-built and reliable performance coupe, but looks are now dated

RATING

78/100

Pricing

Year Price From Price To
1997 $2,860 $5,500
1996 $2,860 $5,500
1995 $2,750 $5,390
1994 $2,530 $4,950
1993 $2,640 $4,290
1992 $2,640 $4,290
1991 $2,310 $4,290

View all Mazda MX-6 pricing and specifications

Pricing guides

$3,300
Based on third party pricing data
Lowest Price
$2,310
Highest Price
$4,290

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
(4WS) 2.5L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $2,640 – 4,180 1991 Mazda MX-6 1991 (4WS) Pricing and Specs
Turbo (2WS) 2.2L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $2,310 – 3,630 1991 Mazda MX-6 1991 Turbo (2WS) Pricing and Specs
Turbo (4WS) 2.2L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $2,640 – 4,070 1991 Mazda MX-6 1991 Turbo (4WS) Pricing and Specs
Graham Smith
Contributing Journalist

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