I live in a typical suburban neighborhood - lots of houses, three-car garages, neatly trimmed yards, swing sets, and kids riding bikes in the cul-de-sac. Most of the cars that line the driveways and garages are very practical. I guess my neighbors are looking for some excitement in their lives because they all came out to ogle at the 2006 Mazda Speed6 when I pull into my driveway. It is one hot little number with its speedy purpose clear in its design.
Just a hunch, but I don't think that the Mazda engineers had me in mind when they designed the Mazda Speed6. Let's see, mom of three, living in suburbia, a stoplight every other intersection - I barely have a chance to drive at highway speeds, let alone open up the throttle on this swift sedan.
Somehow, I must find a way. I drive out to some sparsely populated sections of new road near my house to really test this car. I couldn't possibly do a review justice without really driving the car fast - or at least that is my excuse! Wow, what fun! The Mazda Speed6 comes with a six-speed manual transmission; light pressure on the accelerator makes the RPMs soar towards the redline. I have to be quick with the clutch and soon I am flying down the street. It is a thrill.
The same things that make this car fun to drive make it a little unfriendly for moms. I think the manual transmission is great fun in this car, but it is completely unpractical and distracting for my day-to-day mommy driving. How can I drink coffee, hand a water bottle to the kids in the back, and shift at the same time?
I also have heartburn over the white leather seats that stylishly inhabit my test vehicle. I feel like I have to have a box of baby wipes constantly ready in case a grubby hand touches any part of the surface. Don't even get me started on the back of the front seats, during our week-long test, my children's feet inevitably rub, leaving dirt and marks all over the beautiful white seatback. Yikes!
Other than that, this car is a gem. Booster seats fit comfortably in the back seat and the Latch anchors are easy to get to for infant seats. The Mazda Speed6 boasts a five-star safety rating and has standard side-curtain airbags. I could not even peel-out with this speed demon if I wanted to since the standard all-wheel drive keeps me grounded; it also adds peace of mind to my driving experience.
Have I mentioned that my kids love this car? My 4-year-old says it is the best car we have ever had. He is eager to go to the grocery store and to pick his sister up from school. Usually, I spend several minutes persuading him to get into the car and buckle up, but not this week. He and I are both impressed with the visibility and comfort of the back seat. The standard Bose stereo also makes us smile. Even my teenager doesn't mind listening to They Might be Giants singing "John Lee Supertaster" - loud.
The candy-apple red metallic paint job is something I would not normally write about, but girlfriends, this car has some serious bling. Everyone who sees me near this car comments on the "velocity red" paint - it is beautiful.
Another exterior feature that is very interesting is the advanced keyless entry. I keep the credit-card-sized key in my purse and press a small black button on the door when I get to the car - the doors magically unlock. I also start the engine without removing the key from my purse; a signal from the key fob allows me to just turn the starter and go. I am so thankful to be relieved of the daily key dig.
Another chick-friendly feature includes many little compartments to store all the gear that we have to have with us at all times. There is a pocket for change, another to catch your cell-phone and yet another to stash Kleenex and those wet-wipes for cleaning the white seats. Not to mention the center console that has a little trap door at the top that nicely fits my iPod. It even has hole in it to run the charger down to the outlet. I still have ample space for anti-bacterial gel, my garage door opener and some CDs for the kids. The trunk has plenty of room for a weekly grocery trip including a 40-pound bag of dog food.
Overall, the features that make Mazda Speed6 "speedy" are overkill for mommy-life. That said, Mazda has been thoughtful in adding features to the car that are convenient, practical and that make the daily grind a lot more fun.
*For more information on the Mazda Speed6 and its safety features visit Cars.com.
LET'S TALK NUMBERS LATCH Connectors: 2 Seating Capacity (includes driver):5
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Galore Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample
SENSE AND STYLE Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Great Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Groove-On