2006 Mazda 6 S Grand Sport Wagon
The Good Smooth and quiet ride. Lots of space.
Excellent looks for a wagon.
The Bad Needs better nav system. Sunroof
should be bigger. No height adjustment for front passenger seat. No
Apple QuickTime viewer here.
Walk around the outside and inside, drive behind the wheel, watch the Mazda
6 drive by.
Mazda, is slowly heading for a great
future, changing its cars and its old ways. Many new vehicles have come out
of this manufacturer recently like the four door 3, the new RX-8 and the all
new Miata. Mazda's are increasingly being test driven by customers who
would otherwise flock to Honda, Toyota or Nissan. Recently, dealership
improvements have been scheduled which will likely draw in numerous buyers,
our main complaint for the last few years; this improvement was much
needed. The Grand Sport Wagon tested here offers some changes for 2006,
continuing a great run with more than 70 awards thus far.
improvements will further improve the customer's perception of style and
quality," says Eiji Oyama, MAZDA 6 vehicle line manager for Mazda North
American Operations. "The MAZDA 6 's unique competitive advantage is its
sports-sedan position, and updates for 2006 further emphasize that advantage
over the competition. Thanks to three different body styles, and the
availability of four-cylinder and V6 engines, manual or automatic
transmissions, the car that delivers the sportiest driving experience in its
sector is even more desirable."
Designed in a sleek and performance
inspired fashion the Mazda 6 for 2006 is beautiful.
There are two MAZDA 6 models: the four-cylinder i
version and the V6-powered S. Each is available in one of four different
packages: entry-level, Sport, Grand Touring and – new for 2006 – Grand
Sport. New to the Mazda 6 are changes to bumpers, headlights and
taillights, side sills and rear trunk spoiler.
From the nose the slatted front grille in
matching silver color is recessed back forming the beginning of a very
slender and futuristic body. A four beam front headlight system is unique
with the main xenon beams at the outer edges in the fender, giving the Mazda
6 a even wider appearance in other driver's rearview mirrors. Wrap around
front bumper and built in flush mounted grille as well as fog lamps offers a
clean front end design. Headlight and taillight housings are colored in an
aggressive dark grey color. Large 18-inch wheels with minimal body wheel
gap are the perfect accessory. From a lower stance up front to a higher
stance towards the rear the Mazda 6 is ready to pounce. Windows are
slightly narrowed at you approach the rear and a mid line curvature ads to
the clean appearance of the exterior. From the rear the Mazda 6 is
substantial with a nicely shaped rear bumper and sleek styling with dual
chrome exhaust tips.
The interior of the Mazda 6 is comfortable,
well built, quiet and roomy. All these qualities are required in any car
you are going to like for the near future. Gone are most silver plastic
parts which are not real aluminum (a few remain). The use of leather look
material on the upper dash and doors is great. Most of this material feels
softer than old hard plastic. A nicely sized steering wheel offers leather
wrapping along with shift knob and parking brake handle. Ventilation
outlets are large for our tastes leaving gaping holes in the dash.
The instrument panel features a good
quality dark metallic finish with piano black material around the stereo
controls and silver colored dials around the ventilation controls. New
redesigned switches are features for 2006. The old red LCD style display is
still used on top of the center console showing information far from the
button you push to ask for it. A flip open screen shows DVD navigation
information. To use it a remote control is placed neat the shift gate and
can be removed for in your hand use. The system is not as great as the Audi
system we just tested but is good enough to get you to places quickly. We
would like to see it have a brighter screen in the future as it was hard to
see during the day. Voice control of the system is difficult to get right
and needs improvement.
Xenon headlights are of mediocre quality
when compared to the best, these however can be adjusted for height should
you offend drivers in your neighborhood. Electroluminescent gauges that
black out when the vehicle is off are only available on the Mazda 6 Grand
Touring and Sport model. Instrument cluster dials are surrounded by chrome
rings for a high end appearance. A simple trip mileage memory for 2 trips
is also located in the instrument cluster however no trip computer is
available showing gas mileage.
Both front doors offer ergonomic controls
such as automatic window switches located in front of you, and grab handles
for the passengers that fit your arm resting on the door armrest. Front
windows when lowered stop at 1 inch for a venting position. The stereo on
our model was a Bose system with good quality speakers. Even Bose is now
making different quality products as we did not find the sound quality in
this system to be up to the quality of the Bose system in our just tested
Audi so watch out and make sure you know what you are buying as a option.
Six CD disc changer is built into the dash and the system can also easily
have Satellite radio and alternate media hookup. Outside mirrors are heated
for better visibility in rain and snow but are not dimming. Interior
ambient and footwell lighting is non existent making for a dark environment,
some light in the footwells would be nice. We would like to add automatic
headlights to the feature list.
New front seats for 2006 offer greater
comfort and support. Seating surfaces are in leather of good quality with
inner portions being perforated leather. The driver's seat is comfortable
and angles for a cradle position and is height adjustable. The passenger
seat is not powered and is not height adjustable which is a serious flaw.
We always felt we were sitting too high for comfort. Five large adults can
sit comfortably in the cabin. 37 Cubic feet of cargo space is available
with the rear seats in normal position. More than 60 cubic feet of space is
available with the rear seats folded flat. Front doors also contain bottle
holders and a large space in the center armrest for your goodies. Overhead
is a small sunglass compartment. Rear seat legroom is quite nice with a
good seating position as well. Headroom is very good and width is also
quite normal. All door feature perforated leather panels for a higher end
look. We also love the quick release rear seatbacks which, with a pull of
one lever, fold completely down quickly and easily. There is plenty of room
to carry all that you can think of in this car.
A 3.0 liter V6 engine is standard
delivering 215 horsepower and 199 lb.- ft. of torque. It offers a smooth
powerband and can come on strong and loud when you depress the accelerator
suddenly. The six-speed transmission delivers unnoticeable shifts and
adjusts shifting pattern to the current driving style automatically. Move
the lever to the right of the D position and you can shift gears with a
forward movement downshifting and a backward movement shifting gears from 1
to 2 and up. We think this movement should be reversed as in most cars
moving the lever forward moves gears to a higher number gear. Mileage is
rated at 20 city and 27 highway.
A smooth ride is the best feature of the
Mazda 6 Wagon. The interior is quiet on well paved roads and wind noise as
well as engine noise is very limited. The Mazda 6 shows behaved mannerisms
with the help of a rigid body structure. Body sway is still noticeable
however not something to complain about. Body dive is noticeably improved.
Suspension is a good balance between firm and soft with low noise. Steering
feel is also quite good and the enjoyment of driving can be conveyed through
to the driver well. Being a front wheel drive car, lurching and pulling is
noticeable under heavy acceleration and we prefer rear wheel drive cars for
their handling ability.
The Mazda 6 has tested well in
safety getting the highest ratings in frontal crash tests. Side airbags for
the front seats and curtain airbags for both front and rear passengers are
standard. Traction control systems are particularly helpful in daily
driving for safety and are standard on the Mazda 6. Four wheel disc brakes
with antilock system and electronic brakeforce distribution with brake
assist to apply full pressure in emergency situations are all standard as
well. A anti theft alarm and remote keyless entry system with panic button
is also standard.
A 48 month or 50,000 mile bumper to bumper
warranty is provided. 24 hour roadside assistance is also provided with a
loaner car program, something you do not find in this class of vehicle.
Our test car started off at $27,910 for the
Mazda 6 Grand sport wagon in metallic silver and gray interior. A six speed
sport automatic transmission adds $950. California emissions add $100. The
voice activated navigation system ads $2,000. Delivery of $560 makes the
total $31,520. A option we would have liked would be the auto dimming
rearview mirror and Homelink for only $250 and a cassette player for $100.