The Mazda6 otherwise known as the Mazda Atenza in Japan is the replacement for the less popular 626 model and first introduced in 2002. Thus far, the Mazda6 has sold over one million units worldwide since its introduction over a decade ago and has also hit this sales milestone faster than all previous Mazdas partially due to its unique design cues. By the time the new millennium came to be, Mazda rolled out their new “Stylish, Insightful, and Spirited” design philosophy which later followed suite in their Mazda2, RX-8, and the rest of the line up. During a time when the leading full size sedan competition included the bland design of the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, Mazda’s introduction of the 6 was spot on in way of not only styling but more so bang for buck.
Globally the Mazda6 came with an assortment of engine variations including a 1.8L (L8-DE), 2.0L (LF-VE) and 2.3L (L3-VE), initially with a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. In the US a 3.0L Duratec 30 V6 engine was made available matted to a five-speed manual or automatic gearbox, until 2005 when a 6-speed automatic became the replacement. All the engine choices allowed the Mazda6 to be tailored to a particular consumer around the world although the Duratec V6 was by far the most popular option in North America due to the demand for power in full sized sedans.
Unknown to many the Mazda6 was built on the G-series platform, by far one of the most successful in the Ford-Mazda partnership resulting in vehicles such as the Ford Fusion, Mercury Milan, Lincoln Zephyr/MKZ, Lincoln MKX, and many others. The side profile of the car is spot on with wide arches on the fender lines and great wheel option especially with the higher trimmed levels. As mentioned in an earlier posting during this time, the Lexus IS300 was debuted and “Altezza taillights” were all the rage, thus Mazda used the concept for their design which can be seen wrapped around the rear quarter panel.
The Mazda6 not only filled a much-needed void in way of a full size sedan able to capture the hearts of younger buyers or one seeking something less conservative than the other Japanese offerings, it also became very competitive in various racing series. Most notably the Mazda6 was campaigned in the GTS class of the SCCA Pro Racing World Challenge. Mazda took first in the manufacturer’s championship while its drivers finished first and second on the podium in the Touring Car driver points. If that doesn’t speak volumes about Mazdas dedication to making their vehicles work in every realm, than nothing else does.
Later on the Mazda6 was introduced in a sport-wagon format which allowed the versatility of more in-cabin room, while still looking the part of “Stylish, Insightful, and Spirited” as Mazda tagged it. For a starting price sub-$30,000 you simply couldn’t go wrong although selecting which variation could have been confusing. The Mazda6 has since gone through various changes including the most notably a more robust exterior and bigger power plant as well as the introduction of the Mazdaspeed6 in 2005 with it’s turbocharged engine pushing out 270 hp and 280 lb·ft of torque!
In the world of tuners, the Mazda6 was well received especially with the introduction of the Mazdaspeed6 and its turbocharged engine. The lines of the car flowed very well and no one could deny the beauty and simplicity of the multi-projector look of the headlights. Throw on a nice set of wheels, drop the car a few inches, add a lip spoiler, and you’re all done. For those that didn’t want to go enroute of the smaller Mazda3, the 6 offered the look and feel of the smaller sibling with the performance expected from a larger output vehicle – a true win-win scenario.