Mazda 6 6MPS
High bonnet increases airflow to intercooler
- Engine is flexible and powerful
- Ride quality is impressive
- High standard specification
- Secure handling and grip
- Steering is weighty but lacks a little feel
- Styling a little too subtle for some
- No estate version offered
- Boot space reduced over regular saloon version
Completing the revised Mazda6 range is an all-new model, the 6MPS. The designation, standing for Mazda Performance Series, is at the top of the range and is the first high performance version of the mid-sized saloon. With a turbocharged engine, four-wheel drive and a restyled exterior, it should have the right ingredients to challenge its rivals.
Already regarded as a fun car to drive in standard form, the 6MPS is the first time Mazda has launched a high performance range-topping version in a car of this size. Although competing with mostly European rivals, it uses four-wheel drive technology that tends to be favoured by Japanese sports saloons such as the Subaru Impreza and Mitsubishi Lancer Evo.
Another unusual aspect to the 6MPS is the choice of powerplant. Most of its rivals use a combination of multi-cylinder engines or turbocharging to increase power output, whereas the 6MPS uses turbocharging and the addition of direct injection, designed to overcome the issue of turbo lag whilst also delivering a benefit to fuel economy. The engine size is 2.3-litres, one of the smallest in the class.
Externally the 6MPS gets a number of visual changes over the standard car, although the overall effect remains relatively subtle. At the front it has a taller bonnet that houses the top mounted intercooler, allowing increased air flow into the engine without the need for a substantially larger front grill. Side skirts and large alloy wheels are also fitted, as well as a unique front bumper and twin exhausts.
Inside the 6MPS also gains significant changes, with the use of close fitting sports seats for improved comfort and support, plus metal pedals with rubber grips for improved feel. The 6MPS comes as a single specification model with a generous array of standard equipment, including a high grade stereo system and Xenon headlights.
Our verdict on the Mazda 6 6MPS
Drivers seeking a hardcore sports saloon may be disappointed by the 6MPS, but the reality is that most drivers desire a car that is still comfortable and usable but with a high level of performance and specification. In this regard the 6MPS is a success, combining the roles successfully to deliver impressive all-round ability.
For a car of this performance, the 6MPS will have reasonable running costs. The purchase price is competitive, while fuel economy and insurance are also acceptable given the performance on offer.
Space and practicality
Room for passengers is good both front and rear, so even taller occupants should be comfortable. The boot space is also good, although due to body shell modifications the 6MPS has slightly less boot space than the regular 6 saloon. There are also some useful storage areas in the front of the cabin.
Controls and display
The dashboard of the 6MPS is uncluttered and stylish, with clearly labelled switches and controls. Although not heavily stylised, the cabin is quite attractive and is unlikely to confuse anyone behind the wheel. The extra controls mounted on the steering wheel are also a useful feature.
Although the 6MPS is designed to be a sports car, it retains a high level of comfort. The front sports seats are very supportive, noise levels are low and the ride quality is also good, especially considering the sporty suspension.
With the high standard specification the 6MPS includes remote central locking, an engine immobiliser and an alarm system as standard, all of which should ensure that this desirable car is secure.
As well as standard features such as airbags, ESP and ABS, the mechanical layout of the 6MPS has a safety benefit, with improved grip, braking performance and traction thanks to the four-wheel drive system. It also benefits from a stiffer bodyshell, which should improve crash performance.
In this sector driving enjoyment is key, and although the 6MPS does deliver to a degree, in some respects it lags behind rivals. The 2.3-litre turbocharged engine delivers excellent power and acceleration, although the noise is relatively uninspiring despite a tuned exhaust. The gearchange is very good, with a short, positive action and the brakes are also excellent. The steering is noticeably firmer than regular versions of the 6, though it is diminished by the lack of genuine feel. In contrast, the 6MPS is very refined and comfortable, and so does a decent job of combining the dual roles of sports car and saloon.
Family car appeal
The 6MPS retains its practicality, and given its good interior space and comfort levels, it would provide stylish and comfortable family transport. The only manner in which this could be improved is if an estate version were to be produced.
First car appeal
While an easy car to drive, the 6MPS is likely to be too expensive for most first car buyers, and the performance and insurance costs also make it largely unsuitable.
Quality and image
The high standard of finish in the cabin boosts the 6MPS's quality feel, as does the high level of equipment. In terms of image, the Mazda may lag behind some of its rivals, although other cars in the range such as the MX-5 and RX-8 have raised the profile of Mazda as a sports car manufacturer.
Getting into the 6MPS is not an issue for front or rear passengers, with large door apertures and chunky grab handles. The boot is also easy to access with a wide opening lid.
Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)
The 6MPS is fitted as standard with a Bose six-CD autochanger and radio, which delivers very good sound quality even at high volume levels, and the clear display and controls make it easy to use.
Colours and trim
As standard, the 6MPS has a titanium-look centre console with a piano black finish to the stereo system, combined with full leather on the seats, steering wheel and gearlever. Although this is a combination of dark colours, the trim is of a good standard and well finished, and combined with the red illumination of the instruments and displays, results in an attractive cabin.
With the same essential saloon shape, the 6MPS is as simple to park as its lesser siblings. Light controls and good all round vision make it easy to park, although parking sensors are not available.
Space saver spare wheel mounted beneath the boot floor
Six engine options: 1.8-litre petrol (118bhp), 2.0-litre petrol (144bhp), 2.3-litre petrol (163bhp), 2.3-litre petrol turbocharged (257bhp), 2.0-litre diesel (119bhp and 140bhp). The 1.8 petrol is fitted with a five-speed manual gearbox, while all other models are fitted with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard. A five-speed automatic is available with the 2.0-litre engine. Trim levels are S, TS, TS2, Sport and MPS, with the MPS gaining four-wheel drive, high specification interior and the unique 2.3-litre turbocharged engine.
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