Friday, September 7, 2012

Wildcard Pick of the Month - Mazda 6 (2004-2007)

For this month's wildcard pick, Myk Belmonte will feature a sedan that would surely rock. It may have a premium price but this one is for the driver. Up and coming executives who wants an entry level sedan but the soul of a sports car is there, this is it.

2004-2007 Mazda 6

Once upon a time, executive sedans are definitely common with males with higher rank positions, nearing retirement age, having tons of money in the bank, and sports buldging bellies and having poor eyesight. We all know they can afford to pay a driver that can take them places and these sedans are usually passenger oriented - with numb steering and a lifeless ride, a tradeoff for a cushy ride. This leaves young people no choice but to buy executive sedans suited for their dads.

Mazda, with its sports car heritage, decided to infuse their sports car genes (prevalent with their RX-7 sports car) with the Mazda 626 (the predecessor) throughout of its selling life (except for the 1998-2002 model, with car magazine reviews dismissing it as bland and soft than the previous model). The 6 (or Atienza if you live in Japan) was introduced in 2002 which includes a sedan, hatchback, and wagon body configurations. In 2005, a MazdaSpeed variant of the 6 made way to Mazda dealers until 2007. The 2002-2007 Mazda 6 carried the GG platform, with several Ford sedans also utilizing this. Production continued until 2007, with the GH Mazda 6 replacing it in 2008.

The 6 (together with the 3 and Tribute) had their Philippine introduction with the brand's comeback in 2004. It was not like any other executive sedan sold locally, with the 6's emphasis on driving dynamics (the 2003-2007 Honda Accord nearly made the cut when it comes to driving feel) than passenger comfort. Together with the international market, selling time ended in 2007 and the GH Mazda 6 introduced in the following year.

Value and Costs
In the Philippine context, mid-size sedans (and nearly any sedan with two liter engines and above) do have poor resale values. With the Mazda 6 being a casualty of this crime, you would see 2004-2007 models flirting in the P500,000-P700,000 price range. This is a good choice if you prioritize driving than back seat riding for less.

Unlike the Mazda 3, parts may be available outside the casa but some components are exclusively available in the dealership parts section. Prepare spare cash for fuel expenses, and maintaining one - since taking care of this sedan costs more than the lowly priced M3. Common problems with the M6 involve road noise. It may be attributed to the standard tires or with the underchassis, but make it sure to check them before signing the deal.

Exterior and Interior
One thing the afflicts mid-size sedans are the increase in weight and bulk, the 6 gets rid of it due to the target market. If you get a magnifying glass, you'll notice some Mazda RX-8 (may it rest in peace) styling cues albeit stretched and blends well. You may confuse it for a hatchback (there exists a hatchback version internationally) since the rear windshield is heavily raked. To sum this paragraph, it says goodbye to bland edges and goes daring when it comes to designing the exterior.

Earlier models possess a dowdy looking interior, with gauges not enticing excitement when looked to and the  strips of chrome and carbon fiber doesn't collaborate well with the black and silver plastic pieces. While an update in late 2005 had improved materials, possess leather trims, gauges that are not boring to stare at, and the addition of creature comforts such as an automatic climate control (previous ones utilize a manual one) and a 6-disc changer. A sunroof (very useless during the typhoon season) is standard on all year models. Room for occupants is excellent, even the ones who want to sit at the back would feel comfortable despite the presence of the sunroof. Visibility is generous since this is a driver-oriented car.

For Philippine market M6's, there are two 4-cylinder engine choices per period. One is a 1,998cc that has 131hp at 6,000rpm and 176Nm at 4,500rpm for 2004-2005 models while a 2,261cc motivates late 2005-2007 Mazda 6's and carries 164hp at 6,500rpm and 207Nm at 4,000rpm. The 2.0 engine does not fit the sporty demeanor of the 6 although not insufficient in power, expect to hear it wheeze in steep inclines, similar to someone who gets asthma attack. The 2.3 engine - added in late 2005 - finally does justice to the 6, with the injection of Sequential Valve-Timing and Variable Intake System and you may freak out with this combo - a racy engine noise and a 7,000rpm redline.

Driving Impressions
The Mazda 6's forte is the driving characteristics, which is very un-executive car like to tell the obvious truth. You can feel the balance from attacking corners to twist the steering wheel. Thanks to the lighter body, you won't feel the bulk while changing lanes. With the suspension combo of the double wishbone and multilink E-type, it ensures the car is still planted on the ground and providing a firm but tolerable ride.

As they say, life begins at age 40. But, you can stay forever young by going against and defying your age by buying a second hand Mazda 6. With a balance between comfort and driver involvement, this car is a bargain, thanks to the power of depreciation. So, where can you find this combo if you want the appeal of an executive?

The Good:
  • Excitement for executives
  • Sports car dynamics
  • Not dull looking
The Bad:
  • Base 2.0 does not live to its sporty image
  • Allergic to backseat loving people
  • Where is the V6 engine?
The Pick: 2.3L variant

Engines: 1,998cc LF (2004-2005) and 2,261cc L3 (2005-2007) I4 gasoline
Power: 131hp @ 6,000rpm (2.0), 164hp @ 6,500rpm (2.3)
Torque: 176Nm @ 4,500rpm (2.0), 207Nm @ 4,000rpm
Fuel Consumption: 7-9km/L (city), 10-12km/L (highway) (*estimated and varies)
Transmission: 4-speed automatic (2.0), 5-speed automatic (2.3)
Suspension: Front double wishbone, rear multilink E-type

Price (New): P1,250,000-P1,300,000
Price (Now): P500,000-P700,000
Rivals: Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Nissan Teana, Mitsubishi Galant, Hyundai Sonata, BMW 3 Series, Audi A4, Mercedes Benz C Class
On Sale: 2004-2007

Mazda Greenhills - 722-1102
Mazda Alabang - 722-3168
Mazda Quezon Avenue - 712-3355

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