Review of Mazda 6 MPS
The key is probably in the way it is elegant but unobtrusive – and the price is high. That combination has sold tens of millions of DVRswagens and, like the Volkswagen Golf, the Mazda 6 is an absolutely cute and competent car although not an exception in any field.
All are very beautiful, if there is no basis for a sports car. However, like some of the kind Ivy Ivy graduates who have recently discovered the pleasures of pumping iron, the Mazda 6 has put into muscle as the Mazda 6 MPS. It pumps up with a revised and turbocharged version of the 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine and all-wheel drive system.
It’s a familiar formula, followed by Subaru, Audi and Volvo for their top midsize cars, but tech enthusiasts will notice a few interesting details in Mazda’s approach. For example, the engine uses direct injection, direct injection of gasoline into the cylinder. Combined with the computer-controlled spark timing, it makes lower torque better and lower pollution levels – so Mazda says. It is similar to the system used by Volkswagen and Audi in their FSI engines.
The all-wheel-drive system is a part-time setup that works like a front wheel when it’s easy to go and sends up to 50 percent of torque to the wheels after the car’s computer detects everything is getting serious important.
The system has three modes that are automatically selected – normal, sport and snow – and work together with electronic stability control. Put simply, MPS evaluates how hard you are driving and deduces the road surface and sends power to the rear wheels accordingly.
That’s an improvement over previous part-time AWD systems that only drove the rear wheels if the front wheels started to skid. An interesting detail for the technicians is that the circuit breaker sends the drive to the water-cooled rear wheels for greater reliability.
Mazda says the MPS bodywork is 50% stiffer than the standard Mazda 6 – although one of the costs to achieve this is to eliminate the air gap between the back seat and the boot.
There are also visual muscles. The grille is larger to provide air for the turbo’s controls, the spoiler is adorned at each end, skirts are hidden under the door and larger wheels are under flared guards. The effect is somewhere between the custom-designed BMW system and the aggression from the Subaru Impreza WRX traffic lights.
Inside it is still a Mazda 6, which can be said as a recognizable Japanese car but with a different European feel. Small details, such as red tinted instruments and cruise control mounted on the steering wheel, evoke the Continental and the cabin with the modest but prosperous space of a Volkswagen Golf. Clear, clear and powerful stereo sound is a highlight; The seats, with their small base and not enough side support for the car’s cornering ability, are less memorable.
Below that, the first impression is about the bland steering wheel. But the more challenging roads show accuracy on the center, freedom from being pulled back and trampled, and even a little tactile feedback. MPS rotates sharply without deflecting and settling down to show impressive grip. The force pulling out the bends is strong and seamless as the computer infuses more power to the rear wheels. The computerized AWD system works well and its torque delivery to the rear wheels is usually flattened by tightening the bends. It is firmly planted and easy to drive according to performance standards.
A bit of initial bite in the brakes might be good to match the car’s performance and handling, but the pedal feel is good and they’ve worked well in testing. Body control through corners is excellent but the ride makes a vague first impression with a sense of certainty that suggests bangs and bumps on tougher roads. But that never happened, and it copes quite well with noisy urban surfaces. Again, feel is more European than Japan. Owners of Audi will find something extremely familiar in a firm but padded gait.
Unfortunately, there’s a headlining cabin in the test car, although it could have had a tough life in the hands of motorbike press. On the bright side, highway tuning is better than expected in a performance AWD car – it will be a revelation for anyone Subaru WRX business.
The 6-speed manual gearbox (without automatic) feels satisfying when driving in the opposite direction but in the city it goes a little too heavy, especially when combined with a hair-activated clutch. The slightest bend of the foot you see it joins with a smash. You will ask yourself, “what’s wrong with me today?”
All will be forgiven when you move. The engine believes in its turbo badge with a wide torque range starting at 2000 rpm and doesn’t stop until the rev limiter cuts in. Impressively, though like all turbo cars, it can be thirsty if driven aggressively. We saw 15.4 liters per 100km.
The only muted criticism can be muted and uninspiring audio. Like a turbo Saab (but not a new V6), it sounds like a vacuum cleaner, only finding its voice at the top of the rev range.
In every other respect, 6 MPS is the car that Saab Aero four-cylinder should have. There is something almost Swedish about its demeanor and decisive competence, something almost German about its dark and gloomy cabin. And while it doesn’t quite have the subtlety of Scandinavian design or German aggression, it does create real sophistication and capability.