High performance is no stranger to the Mazda brand, which issues the rotary-engine RX-8 sports car and has offered specially tuned editions of the MX-5 Miata roadster. For 2006, the automaker's Mazda6 sedan gets the performance treatment.
Emanating from the company's Mazdaspeed division, the Mazdaspeed6 sedan contains a turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder that operates with direct gasoline injection and whips up 274 horsepower. Mazda insists it has circumvented the usual disadvantages of turbocharging: poor low-end and mid-range torque. The single-scroll turbo delivers most of its 15.6-psi boost starting at approximately 2,500 rpm. The automaker says a specially tuned exhaust note is both subtle and aggressive.
The Mazdaspeed6 comes in base Sport and Grand Touring models. A new Active Torque Split all-wheel-drive system adjusts front/rear torque distribution between 100/0 and 50/50 based on real-time steering angle, yaw rate, lateral G-force and engine status data. The all-wheel-drive system can choose between Normal, Sports and Snow modes. The RX-8's torque-sensing limited-slip differential is used in the Mazdaspeed6.
An aerodynamic front bumper and lower grille section are intended to suggest the potential of the Mazdaspeed6's powertrain. An upper grille serves as the engine's air intake, directing cooled air through a duct to the turbocharger's intercooler. Side skirts are flared, and aluminum wheels hold 18-inch tires. The rear bumper contains a diffuser and integrated tailpipes, and a compact lip-style spoiler is installed.
Mazda says the Mazdaspeed6's torsional rigidity is 50 percent greater than that of a regular Mazda6 sedan. The Mazdaspeed6's front spring rate is 25 percent higher than usual, and its stabilizer bars are thicker. The rear cross-member has been reinforced.
The sedan's dimensions are similar to the standard Mazda6 sedan. A power sunroof is optional on the Grand Touring sedan.
Like the Mazda6, up to five occupants can fit inside the Mazdaspeed6. Both Mazdaspeed6 models feature stainless-steel scuff plates, sport-type front seats, alloy pedals and a Bose audio system with an in-dash six-CD changer. Grand Touring sedans add black leather-trimmed seat upholstery, an eight-way power driver's seat, heated mirrors and front seats, and advanced keyless entry.
Under the Hood
Direct gasoline injection and turbocharging combine to produce 274 hp and 280 pounds-feet of torque from the Mazdaspeed6's 2.3-liter four-cylinder. A six-speed-manual gearbox is installed.
Dynamic Stability Control, antilock brakes, side-impact airbags and side curtain-type airbags are standard.