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Mazda6 Sport Wagon
Mazda hands over the keys to its sleek and sexy sport wagon. Does it live up to the promise of "zoom-zoom"?
June 28, 2005 - Part 1
Introduction
Long-time readers of IGN Cars will know that we absolutely love sport wagons. We have no idea why, but just the concept of having a quick, good-looking, nimble machine that can haul a bunch of stuff is just cool. Who needs a slow, lumbering SUV when super sleek and sexy sport wagons are available?

We've all heard talk about how Mazda wants to position its Mazda6 Sports Sedan and Wagon as a direct competitor to BMW's 3 Series. It seems that BMW's 3 has become the benchmark for any compact/mid-sized sedan that wants to combine sporty performance with a luxurious interior. While we think the Mazda6 still has a way to go before it can eclipse its German-made competition, it is still an outstanding machine. Oh yeah, a fully-equipped Mazda6 will also be a full $10-15 thousand dollars cheaper than a comparably-equipped BMW 3 Series wagon. Hey, that makes for a good segue way to talk about pricing.

Pricing
A base model Mazda6 Sports Sedan i will start at a relatively cheap $19,995. Of course, this base "i" model will come equipped with everything you expect from a car now-a-days (like a 6-speaker stereo, ABS, etc.) and will come powered by a 160 horsepower inline four.

However, we have the Mazda6 Sport Wagon as our test car for the week. Unbeknownst to us prior to writing this review, the Sport Wagon is only available in the higher "s" trim and only comes powered by the 220 horsepower3.0 liter V6. The base price for this "s" trim Sport Wagon is a still modestly-priced $23,665. This price includes the car (of course), 17-inch aluminum rims, underbody kit, automatic climate control and more. Those who plunk down the cash for a Mazda6 Sport Wagon can also choose to get either a slick-shifting 5-speed manual or a 6-speed sport-shift automatic transmission.




But we have a few extras on our car. For starters, we get the "leather package", which includes leather-trimmed seats (naturally), heated door mirrors, heated front seats and electroluminescent gauges. You can expect to pay $1,240 for all of this stuff.

But that's not all... We also have the Bose Audio and Moonroof package. This package comes with a 200-watt 7-speaker 6-disc Bose sound system, which as you can guess, sounds bitchin. Oh yeah, a power moonroof is also included, hence the "moonroof" part of the package name. This added another $1,335 to the car.

Tally those packages up, plus add another few hundred dollars in delivery and processing fees, and you come out with a car that will cost you about $27,260. We think that's pretty cheap considering everything that comes on the car.

Styling
Oh, damn is this a good-looking car. Just about every angle of the Mazda6 Sport Wagon screams "sexy" -- and this is a station wagon we are talking about! Everything about the Mazda6 Sport Wagon just looks right, from the slight "wing" over the rear window to the slight fender flares, to the way the car sits over its 17-inch rims. It is really hard to find a bad angle on this car, and that's a great thing. It sounds cliche, and we really are embarrassed to even write this: but the Mazda6 Sport Wagon looks like it's going fast even when it's standing still. We would say that it's due to some "zoom-zoom" factor, but we hate that ad campaign with a passion, so we won't. In fact, please try to forget we even wrote that last sentence.

Part 2
General Driving Impressions
Mazda is really touting the 6 as its sports touring vehicle. This car wasn't designed to carry your grandparents in comfort while riding on a floating cloud of air, it was designed to blast down the freeway and take corners like a slot car. Oh yeah, and it's designed to deliver outstanding performance for thousands less than comparable European sports touring sedans.

While the performance is good, it's not "all that". But to be fair, just prior to our getting the Mazda6 Sport Wagon, we were blasting around Los Angeles in an Evo 8 MR. Pretty much everything will seem "slow" compared to that. However, we have to be impartial journalists and stuff here, so let's try to be fair, objective and balanced.

Performance
Mazda sure has packed its 6 Sports Sedan with the kinds of mechanical equipment and go-fast pieces we like. Let's start by talking about the engine. As you may recall, Mazda offers two different engines in its line of 6 Sports Sedans. The base engine is a 160-horsepower inline four engine, but that doesn't really matter for this review. You see, Mazda only offers its 3.0 liter 220 horsepower V6 in its 6 Sports Wagons. This smooth and quiet engine also puts out a respectable 192 pound feet of torque. Sure, it's not enough to tow a boat or anything, but it helps get the 3,336-pound wagon to 60 miles per hour in just a hair over 7 seconds.

When driving around in the 6 Sport Wagon, we're immediately impressed with how smooth the engine is. It's incredibly quiet, and it never feels "rough" as the revs climb to the 6,500 rpm limiter. In fact, there have been several times over this past week where we've been driving on the freeway in third gear! In our personal rides, doing so would cause the car to buzz and rattle and the engine will sound like it's gonna explode. Compare that to going 80 miles per hour in third gear in the 6 -- it actually feels "normal". Had we not made sure to check the tach while driving, we probably would have never seen 4th gear.




Speaking of gears, the Mazda 6 Sport Wagon is one of those rare station wagons that comes equipped with a real 5-speed manual transmission. The engineers at Mazda have realized that "station wagon" doesn't have to equal "boring". The five-speed in our test car is remarkably smooth -- much smoother than some of the manual transmissions we've found in other "real" sports cars. We would prefer to see a close-ratio 6-speed in this car, but that's just us.

The suspension of the 6 Sports Wagon is pretty good, too. It's an independent suspension all around, with double wishbones up front and an independent E-type multi-link in the rear. As this is a "sports" car, the ride is a bit on the stiff side, but it is by no means punishing. Your Camry-loving grandparents may find the ride too harsh, but they're not the ones buying this car. The stylish 17-inch rims come wrapped in 50-series V-rated all-season tires. These aren't the stickiest tires around, so they don't provide the ultimate grip we so desire. But then, these tires will probably last more than 5,000 miles...

The overall dynamics of the Mazda6 Sports Wagon are pretty good, but the car's performance won't totally blow your mind. It does a good job of giving you that "sporty" feeling, but you won't get that cool "tunnel vision" under hard acceleration, nor will your kidneys be punished. We, of course, could always use more performance. However, that could easily be done should Mazda decide offer its MazdaSpeed package for the 6 Sports Wagon in the near future. You could hook us up with a MazdaSpeed wagon anytime now, Mazda...

Day Three
General Driving Impressions
As it has been mentioned that Mazda designed its Mazda6 to compete with higher-end luxury/sports cars (such as BMW's 3 Series), it seems only fitting that it should come packed with "standard" luxury goods. However, as the Mazda6 was conceived as an "affordable" car, so think that its interior will blow the luxury found in, say... a Lexus out of the water. But, who cares? This car is just $27K when fully loaded!

Comfort and Convenience
As the Mazda6 is so cheap, it's not the luxury car that Mazda wants you to think it is. Leather-trim, heated seats and steering wheel-mounted controls are now pretty commonplace in most sedans. Still, we gotta say that the interior of the Mazda6 is one of the nicest cabins we've been in lately.

Fit and finish are top-notch throughout the Mazda6's cabin. Nothing about the interior feels "cheap", and we certainly can't hear any squeaks or rattles. We may not be hearing any errant noises inside the car due to the fact that we are constantly blasting the 200-watt Bose sound system. With 7 speakers on hand, this system does a good job of making the rest of the world, as well as our nagging girlfriends, disappear.

Speaking of girlfriends, the ladies in our lives really like the heated leather seats -- even though we are well into the summer. We only seem to know women that are always cold, but we digress. We feel that Mazda could have placed the switches for the heated seats in a better position, as it took us 3 days to find them. The switches are located on the front side of the center armrest/storage bin. These switches are actually totally out of the driver's natural line of sight, and the lid to the center storage bin does a lot to keep these switches out of sight. Sure, the problem disappeared after we found these switches, but they aren't "immediately" user-friendly.




Granted, if one of you ever go to a Mazda dealer to test drive a Mazda6, the salesperson will show you how to use everything, so that little bit of nit-picking isn't really important. That's actually pretty good, as that's the only complaint we have with the car. The seats are comfortable and supportive, and the 8-way power adjustable driver's seat is easy enough for us to adjust. IGN staffers over 6 feet tall can ride in the 6 in comfort, with plenty of head and leg room.

The leather used in the Mazda6 isn't as soft as the cow skin found in cars from Lexus, but it's not that bad -- it seems to be on-par with the leather found in older Mercedes. As we've always preferred cloth seats over leather, it's hard for us to really love the leather found in the 6. Those of you that love cow-hide all over the interiors of your cars will find it to be comfortable and pleasant enough.

The best thing about the Mazda6 Sport Wagon's interior is the amount of space that's available. 33.7 cubic feet of cargo room is available with all the seats up, and this space increases to a whopping 60.4 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down. As you well know by now, there's nothing we love more than rockin', and the Mazda6 Sport Wagon allowed us to haul our instruments of rock and some ladies and still have enough room to spare.

Final Thoughts
Mazda's 6 is an engaging and fun-to-drive machine. This vehicle has been winning numerous awards and has been receiving heaps and heaps of praise ever since it made its debut. After spending a week in this sports wagon, we can certainly see why.

The Mazda6 Sport Wagon may not be the ultimate "zoom-zoom" machine that Mazda claims it is, but it's faster and more nimble than most cars in its class. This car is perfect for those younger parents that need to haul their kids to school and stuff. Not only does it have more than enough room, it looks gorgeous and is fun to drive, too.

We seriously love the wagons here at IGN Cars, and we would most certainly consider purchasing a Mazda6 Sport Wagon for ourselves. If we had to buy a wagon today, though, we would take a faster, turbo-charged all-wheel drive wagon over the standard V6 Mazda6 wagon. Again, if Mazda adds its MazdaSpeed package to the Sport Wagon, the Mazda6 wagon would be just about perfect.





 
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