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Discussion Starter #1
What seems to be the general consensus here when it comes to the feel and purpose of the GJ chassis? I wonder if people buy this thing for more city or highway use.

For me personally - The GJ is one of the very few, if only chassis on the market which still manages to offer a sense of driving feel/engagement all but entirely nonexistent in today's market. You literally won't find steering so precisely tuned which offers accurate tire feel in a new car other than maybe a Porsche. On top of that, it offers a level of smooth dampening and refinement that mixes very pleasingly with its handling performance and offers for a versatile chassis feel which allows for suspension tuning which offers some initial softer damping but firms up appropriately while offering precise tire feel when you start to lean on it around corners. I don't think it's the best car in it's class in terms of highway stability at triple digit speeds but that is more likely due to the suspension setup of this car which brings me to my second point - It's really not the best quality in my opinion and could use improvement particularly with sway bars, springs/dampers and probably control arms as well.. Mazda went through great lengths to soften the suspension compared with previous models without necessarily impacting overall performance, but it feels simply underdamped and even a little wallowy once you start to push it past comfort limits, although the chassis still feels incredibly composed and particularly eager to be leaned to the very limit of tire and suspension potential. Mazda obviously did a good job catering to the masses who will never push their cars nearly as hard as I do, but some sort of sport package/suspension option would be very cool for this car. It's a shame that these cars are all so cookie cutter from the factory due to a general lack of sales.

So... How spirited do YOU drive this car?
 

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I have not driven mine like this... but I ran a Turbo 2019 Mazda6 through the same slalom course that I drove two different 6MT variants of Miata through (during the 2019 Mazda drive event here in the Vancouver BC area)... and I came away thoroughly impressed. A big, big sedan... but 'boy did it hussle thru the course. And I might add that I did not "spare the rod". I whipped 'er hard, just as I did for the Miata's

Me, I also could comment re the chassis of MY car: on the highway, I can 'kinda tell (though not excessively so) that it is not a hydraulic power steering system... rather, an EPS system. It exhibits ever so slightly an unwillingness to simply steer itself (that all of my other cars with hydraulic PS do). You actually have to direct it one way... then pull it back a bit. Not nudge it like HPS cars. As this goes, it is one of the best out there... but not quite 100% as good as HPS.

I find the ride acceptably supple... but on certain stretches of road it DOES seem jittery. I am happy with my 17" tires... with their somewhat bulbous sidewalls, for the relative benefit these give over the 19" ones many folks have. It visually is not close, compared to the 19" wheel /tire combo (which is Primo) but functionally, they are just fine for me... and though I do NOT rash rims... they offer a mite more protection in that regard.

You have to realize that I do not run the pants off my cars these days (like I did, 'way back, with my 1971 Datsun 510 - autoslaloming).
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I have not driven mine like this... but I ran a Turbo 2019 Mazda6 through the same slalom course that I drove two different 6MT variants of Miata through (during the 2019 Mazda drive event here in the Vancouver BC area)... and I came away thoroughly impressed. A big, big sedan... but 'boy did it hussle thru the course. And I might add that I did not "spare the rod". I whipped 'er hard, just as I did for the Miata's

Me, I also could comment re the chassis of MY car: on the highway, I can 'kinda tell (though not excessively so) that it is not a hydraulic power steering system... rather, an EPS system. It exhibits ever so slightly an unwillingness to simply steer itself (that all of my other cars with hydraulic PS do). You actually have to direct it one way... then pull it back a bit. Not nudge it like HPS cars. As this goes, it is one of the best out there... but not quite 100% as good as HPS.

I find the ride acceptably supple... but on certain stretches of road it DOES seem jittery. I am happy with my 17" tires... with their somewhat bulbous sidewalls, for the relative benefit these give over the 19" ones many folks have. It visually is not close, compared to the 19" wheel /tire combo (which is Primo) but functionally, they are just fine for me... and though I do NOT rash rims... they offer a mite more protection in that regard.

You have to realize that I do not run the pants off my cars these days (like I did, 'way back, with my 1971 Datsun 510 - autoslaloming).
- I agree, for such a large sedan it does an excellent job around tight corners. Our NA models are around 3200LB while the turbo is 3400LB. It is a very light car for its size.

- I know exactly what you mean with the jittery comment. It's a japanese car so it is designed for very smooth roads - but it is also probably just the not so good stock suspension. I am happy mine has 17" because the roads where I live are pretty bad. The ride becomes too choppy and harsh with 19" so Ill happily sacrifice the fancy looks. I love the design of the 17's on this car.

- It's the best electric steering rack you can find, I think, especially in terms of feel. No complaints there.

- For a fairly large sedan the chassis seems more than content to be pushed quite hard. It responds well to such driving although I can feel the open differential complaining.. I was going pretty fast into a corner with very smooth asphalt and recall the rear end stepping out to the point where it needed a decent amount of correction. It became apparent to me after this experience that overall chassis balance and feel is quite excellent on this car. I don't recall actually feeling what the front and rear axles were doing, through the steering rack so precisely in any car built in the last 15-20 years.
 

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- I agree, for such a large sedan it does an excellent job around tight corners. Our NA models are around 3200LB while the turbo is 3400LB. It is a very light car for its size...

- It's the best electric steering rack you can find, I think...

... I don't recall actually feeling what the front and rear axles were doing, through the steering rack so precisely in any car built in the last 15-20 years.
Agree re the (light) wt... for its size.

The Porsche Boxster, Cayman, 911 now hav EPS. Wonder how they compare (though I would of course concede - different class, big $ by comparison.

Re ur comments on how "rotatable" the chassis is... yes a mite of trailing throttle oversteer WAS induceable when I took the T thru the slalom course. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Agree re the (light) wt... for its size.

The Porsche Boxster, Cayman, 911 now hav EPS. Wonder how they compare (though I would of course concede - different class, big $ by comparison.

Re ur comments on how "rotatable" the chassis is... yes a mite of trailing throttle oversteer WAS induceable when I took the T thru the slalom course. :)
Well, electric steering systems can be tuned to feel identical to a hydraulic rack if not even better if the engineers wish to do so. The only reason why most manufacturers don't bother is because people shopping for new cars could care less how well their steering rack communicates at the limit of cornering grip... The biggest benefit here is that electric racks are much, much easier to tune than the older hydraulic ones and free up a surprising amount of power from the engine.

I have to admit, Porsche is an example of one of those very few brands that provides excellent steering feel similar to a Mazda at any price point, Period. My only other experience with electric racks is with a 2011 BMW 5 series which is one of the few lucky examples that still had real BMW steering that is heavy and requires some effort to pilot, especially at lower speeds. Shame that these days steering feels so light and overboosted. I don't know how Mazda managed to tune their rack to feel so light that you can steer with your pinky without sacrificing a hint of stability, or at least a feeling of stability for the driver. My BMW doesn't have the precise tire communication when you go around a corner like the Mazda does, but it's still quite good IMO contrary to what many others think. The last time I drove a BMW with steering as lively as a Mazda (except heavier effort) was back in 2011 right before they switched to dull electric steering with their newer more luxurious models.

Really, it is very hard to find a FWD car that rotates this well with trail braking/throttle application. Says alot about the engineers ability to fine tune suspension. Nothing gets the heart rate going like FWD chassis overseer even though I own a RWD car..
 

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The first application of EPS to the Corolla, 2009 thru 2013, was the epitome of the non self steering / inaccurate on centre - zero boost situation I describe above. A TOTAL disaster. Say what u will about Toyota's and Corolla's - but the HPS prior model is a study in excellence.... at least compared to their first foray into EPS.
 

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The first application of EPS to the Corolla, 2009 thru 2013, was the epitome of the non self steering / inaccurate on centre / zero boost situation I describe above. A TOTAL disaster. Say what u will about Toyota's and Corolla's - but the HPS prior model is a study in excellence.... at least compared to their first foray into EPS.
 

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What seems to be the general consensus here when it comes to the feel and purpose of the GJ chassis? I wonder if people buy this thing for more city or highway use.

For me personally - The GJ is one of the very few, if only chassis on the market which still manages to offer a sense of driving feel/engagement all but entirely nonexistent in today's market. You literally won't find steering so precisely tuned which offers accurate tire feel in a new car other than maybe a Porsche. On top of that, it offers a level of smooth dampening and refinement that mixes very pleasingly with its handling performance and offers for a versatile chassis feel which allows for suspension tuning which offers some initial softer damping but firms up appropriately while offering precise tire feel when you start to lean on it around corners. I don't think it's the best car in it's class in terms of highway stability at triple digit speeds but that is more likely due to the suspension setup of this car which brings me to my second point - It's really not the best quality in my opinion and could use improvement particularly with sway bars, springs/dampers and probably control arms as well.. Mazda went through great lengths to soften the suspension compared with previous models without necessarily impacting overall performance, but it feels simply underdamped and even a little wallowy once you start to push it past comfort limits, although the chassis still feels incredibly composed and particularly eager to be leaned to the very limit of tire and suspension potential. Mazda obviously did a good job catering to the masses who will never push their cars nearly as hard as I do, but some sort of sport package/suspension option would be very cool for this car. It's a shame that these cars are all so cookie cutter from the factory due to a general lack of sales.

So... How spirited do YOU drive this car?

I am absolutely in love with this chassis, especially considering how big the car is. The car handles much smaller than it really is and in its stock form feels much better than cars more expensive than it.

To respond to your question about how spirited I drive this car, I am definitely one of the few people on this forum who have tracked this platform. Considering how planted these cars are and being of the fwd orientation spinning out in these takes a lot. I spun out on the track and I just recently spun out in the canyons this past weekend (not smart, but definitely a good learning experience).
 

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I would describe the suspension and ride on my car as: great but choppy. The car really comes alive when you push it, but it can't handle minor road imperfections at all. It's been like that since new. Definitely doesn't feel like a defect, just feels like Mazda had to save a few bucks on outright suspension refinement.

I also have some squeaking from the front left suspension. I think it's a swaybar endlink or bushing. It only happens under specific conditions: steering turned close to full lock AND when going over a sharp bump at low speeds AND when the weather is cold and/or damp (exiting the driveway).
 

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Discussion Starter #10
The first application of EPS to the Corolla, 2009 thru 2013, was the epitome of the non self steering / inaccurate on centre / zero boost situation I describe above. A TOTAL disaster. Say what u will about Toyota's and Corolla's - but the HPS prior model is a study in excellence.... at least compared to their first foray into EPS.
The steering on that generation of Corolla's is just terrible! I won't even begin to describe how bad it is. All i can say, is I've driven American cars with better hydraulic racks. The chassis and ride is decent especially for a compact but the brakes, steering and throttle on that car is not very good at all.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I am absolutely in love with this chassis, especially considering how big the car is. The car handles much smaller than it really is and in its stock form feels much better than cars more expensive than it.

To respond to your question about how spirited I drive this car, I am definitely one of the few people on this forum who have tracked this platform. Considering how planted these cars are and being of the fwd orientation spinning out in these takes a lot. I spun out on the track and I just recently spun out in the canyons this past weekend (not smart, but definitely a good learning experience).
Spinning out on the track is one thing, but on a canyon makes me seriously quite worried in terms of the way you drive. It's not RWD, especially not a bad handling one, and it does NOT have a lot of power. It's a well tuned FWD car but the 60/40% ditribution will definetely induce some lift -throttle oversteer if you're going around a fast sweeper at the right angle, speed, engine RPM etc. A friend of mine did it in a First gen V6 Mazda and the car had barely enough opposite lock to avoid him from spinning out... Cold day cold tires. It was a pant staining experience... Drifting in a RWD car feels much more balanced and controlled especially since it's much less likely to happen intentionally. I personally don't push mine too hard because The stock suspension isn't properly damped for track use at all and the open differential despises this sort of driving. it sure does feel good to have this much space in a car that drives this tight.

The one thing I will mention, is fast corners over smooth pavement (like 50KM/H+ 90 degree turn, flat smooth pavement with lots of space with a good steering line) the chassis felt incredibly responsive and capable. Again for it's size and weight, considering how soft these are tuned stock, it's phenomenal.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I would describe the suspension and ride on my car as: great but choppy. The car really comes alive when you push it, but it can't handle minor road imperfections at all. It's been like that since new. Definitely doesn't feel like a defect, just feels like Mazda had to save a few bucks on outright suspension refinement.

I also have some squeaking from the front left suspension. I think it's a swaybar endlink or bushing. It only happens under specific conditions: steering turned close to full lock AND when going over a sharp bump at low speeds AND when the weather is cold and/or damp (exiting the driveway).
Brings me to my final point - This car is designed for Japanese roads which are perfectly smooth like glass. As soon as you go over the smallest north american bump, it becomes especially apparent. The ride is quite good over smooth asphalt. With the correct suspension components the chassis itself certainly has very high capabilities in terms of handling while greatly improving dampening as well.

As for your suspension sound, sounds like textbook diagnosis for a worn control arm ball-joint.. but those do not make a squeaking sound. More like metallic clunking. Those were the exact same symptoms I've had in the past which turned out to be the ball joint.
 

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Brings me to my final point - This car is designed for Japanese roads which are perfectly smooth like glass.
You obviously haven't been to Japan. Generally speaking their roads are nothing special and by far and away are NOT perfectly smooth like glass. lmao
 

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Spinning out on the track is one thing, but on a canyon makes me seriously quite worried in terms of the way you drive. It's not RWD, especially not a bad handling one, and it does NOT have a lot of power. It's a well tuned FWD car but the 60/40% ditribution will definetely induce some lift -throttle oversteer if you're going around a fast sweeper at the right angle, speed, engine RPM etc. A friend of mine did it in a First gen V6 Mazda and the car had barely enough opposite lock to avoid him from spinning out... Cold day cold tires. It was a pant staining experience... Drifting in a RWD car feels much more balanced and controlled especially since it's much less likely to happen intentionally. I personally don't push mine too hard because The stock suspension isn't properly damped for track use at all and the open differential despises this sort of driving. it sure does feel good to have this much space in a car that drives this tight.

The one thing I will mention, is fast corners over smooth pavement (like 50KM/H+ 90 degree turn, flat smooth pavement with lots of space with a good steering line) the chassis felt incredibly responsive and capable. Again for it's size and weight, considering how soft these are tuned stock, it's phenomenal.

Yeah spinning out in the canyons isn't ideal, but like I said I don't have the stock rear sway bar, so it definitely is way more prone to oversteer than a stock 6. It was a huge mistake, but I got to chalk it up as a learning experience.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
You obviously haven't been to Japan. Generally speaking their roads are nothing special and by far and away are NOT perfectly smooth like glass. lmao
Hmm... alright. Well you can tell this car clearly prefers very smooth pavement though. meaning; at least that what it is designed for.
 

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The first application of EPS to the Corolla, 2009 thru 2013, was the epitome of the non self steering / inaccurate on centre / zero boost situation I describe above. A TOTAL disaster. Say what u will about Toyota's and Corolla's - but the HPS prior model is a study in excellence.... at least compared to their first foray into EPS.
The steering on that generation of Corolla's is just terrible! I won't even begin to describe how bad it is. All i can say, is I've driven American cars with better hydraulic racks. The chassis and ride is decent especially for a compact but the brakes, steering and throttle on that car is not very good at all.
Ah, why don't we both not show subjective comments as objective... you are certainly entitled to your opinion, as am I. I contend that i) the HPS on that generation of Corolla is clearly superior to the next generation of Corolla; and that as steering systems go, it is pretty darned good; and ii) in answer to your point re the throttle - I would suggest that (on my daughter's 2005 Corolla LE - first year of electronic throttle) the throttle is slightly more sensitive compared to other cars I've driven - but it is certainly not problematic... and it is not a case-in-point of bad throttle control.

I have put many miles on my daughter's Corolla, and when I was looking for a car for her, I went out of my way to get an '03 to '08 Corolla LE. That was quite a few years ago. It hasn't disappointed. I also have an earlier generation Corolla and a '99 Camry in my "fleet" - and for at least those years of Toyota's, I'm sold on their many good points.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Ah, why don't we both not show subjective comments as objective... you are certainly entitled to your opinion, as am I. I contend that i) the HPS on that generation of Corolla is clearly superior to the next generation of Corolla; and that as steering systems go, it is pretty darned good; and ii) in answer to your point re the throttle - I would suggest that (on my daughter's 2005 Corolla LE - first year of electronic throttle) the throttle is slightly more sensitive compared to other cars I've driven - but it is certainly not problematic... and it is not a case-in-point of bad throttle control.

I have put many miles on my daughter's Corolla, and when I was looking for a car for her, I went out of my way to get an '03 to '08 Corolla LE. That was quite a few years ago. It hasn't disappointed. I also have an earlier generation Corolla and a '99 Camry in my "fleet" - and for at least those years of Toyota's, I'm sold on their many good points.
Agree with your point on previous generation hydraulic rack, obviously it wasn't tuned for good feel /performance or any of that, but it definitely felt much better in a straight line, at speed than the electric rack. The throttle with those generations of corollas wasn't bad, but you could feel that it was just another attempt at making something electrical because it just didn't feel natural at all to me. We sure have come a long way with drive by wire throttle and electric steering racks...

Toyota's are a great car despite the fact that they lack some driver feedback/feel. They can't be beat on the highway, even the compact corolla and they have to be some of the best built/easiest to work on cars you can buy for the last 20 years, period. Literally the only other example of cars built this well (except better to drive spirited) would be Nissan in the 1990's all the way up to 2000 before Renault saved the brand and forced them to cost cut on everything. The Maxima from this era was a damned good car and I miss mine very much.
 

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The Maxima, say about a '98?, SE (or ES???) trim, and a manual 'box was a nice car. If memory serves, it had a limited slip final drive... very rare for a FWD car. That V6 would have been a sweet engine, too.

BTW, speaking of V6's - it is the Nissan / Infinity V6 and the Alfa Romeo Milano 2.5, 3.0, and Alfa 164 SOHC (all, really, the same engine for the Alfa's) - those are the ONLY V6's I like to hear the exhaust note of. Don't know what makes 'em so nice-sounding to me... but they DO sound nice to me.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
The Maxima, say about a '98?, SE (or ES???) trim, and a manual 'box was a nice car. If memory serves, it had a limited slip final drive... very rare for a FWD car. That V6 would have been a sweet engine, too.

BTW, speaking of V6's - it is the Nissan / Infinity V6 and the Alfa Romeo Milano 2.5, 3.0, and Alfa 164 SOHC (all, really, the same engine for the Alfa's) - those are the ONLY V6's I like to hear the exhaust note of. Don't know what makes 'em so nice-sounding to me... but they DO sound nice to me.
Everybody who ever owned or drove that generation of Maxima's (1995-2000) had nothing but highly positive things to say about it. Car's haven't been built with this level of quality and detail for decaces... Based on this alone I knew I had to have one of these, and as soon as I found a 1995 SE with the manual I bought it the second it was posted. From B.C so there was zero rust. 350K on the car and it ran/drove like new with the exception of a leaking fuel injector. Amazing car... Actually it is the one that made me despise open differentials especially in FWD cars. The LSD transformed the handling and the tires would NEVER spin in the rain no matter how bad they were. The 3L V6 is actually the first of the VQ lineup, simply an evolution of Nissan's previous generation V6 which still finds it's way inside new Nissans with the 3.7L. Definitely a great V6 in it's own right, but Mazda 3.7L (found in the mustang v6) and Honda's J series v6 engines are also very good. Honda's is a Simple SOHC 24 valve head but works very well with two inline 3's put together at 60 degree angle... not so much in the case of an inline 4. Brilliant design and incredibly smooth for a V6. I don't know of any others that are actually a long-stroke like the Honda J35. Reminds me alot of the way our 2.5L feel actually. Mazda's V6 has a serious issue with the water pump placement, but in RWD application such as on the Mustang that isn't an issue which makes it an otherwise solid sounding engine.

Also can't forget to mention Mercedes V6 found in the previous generation C class. Max torque at 2700RPM is by far and beyond the best of any v6 which is typically at around 4500-5000RPM. Well built engine with a very beautiful feel and sound. Dodge's pentastar V6 engine is actually a decent motor because it is a simpler version of this Mercedes design.

Nothing beats the feel of an Inline 6 though... Especially BMW's. Getting the opportunity to feel the turbine-like smoothness and beautiful exhaust note to me is like a sacred privilege. The 3L found in a 2009 3 series 328i Makes max torque of anywhere between 200-240FT/lb depending on tune at 2700RPM yet pulls hard to it's 7000RPM redline while easily and consistently getting 30MPG on the highway. The only engine i've ever felt that was smoother is actually Mazda's rotary engine in the RX8.
 

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Everybody who ever owned or drove that generation of Maxima's (1995-2000) had nothing but highly positive things to say about it.
You have GOT to be kidding. We bought a 1997 Maxima SE and drove it (about 15,000 miles/year) for several years, mostly on Oregon and Washington roads of all kinds. The Maxima handled a smidgen better than your average building contractor's brick. In particular, in tighter radius turns at speed (by "speed" I mean >25 mph), the outside front corner dove and plowed.

The SE was delivered new, of course, with so-called "all-season" (read: "good in no season, but mediocre/OK in dry weather") tires, which were sufficiently inadequate that the tires' deficiencies pretty much disguised the suspension's flaws. I swapped out the OEM tires after a year for a set of Goodyear Eagle [two-letter or three-letter] tires (I forget the specific model designation) that were constructed around a steel cord carcass with Kevlar belts in the tread, and those tires corrected many of the Maxima's traction problems, but no tire swap could correct the fundamental problem of the Macpherson Strut geometry of the front suspension.

The Macpherson geometry was developed in the 1960s by the British division of Ford to cut costs so that low-end English Fords could better compete on price with GM Vauxhalls, etc. The clever idea was to use the front shock absorber (necessary to damp spring bounce) as a part of the steering geometry, eliminating one of the two arms of the superior geometry that now generally is denominated "double wishbone"; in a Macpherson suspension, one of the wishbones' function is taken over by a shock absorber, which then does double-duty as a suspension component, locating the wheels to establishing caster and camber during road- and load-induced deflections, and at the same time performing that same task that a traditional shock absorber does. As with most multi-function compromises, the result of the Macpherson compromise is that the front suspension does not do an outstanding job on either wheel location or shock absorbing. The angle at which the strut is positioned between the wheel assembly and the chassis can be optimized for shock absorption or for caster/camber/steering geometry; but it cannot be optimized for both at the same time. However, compared to a double wishbone geometry, a Macpherson suspension can save in the order of magnitude of tens of dollars in cost per vehicle, which can add up when the manufacturer is turning out millions of cars.

After a few years with the Maxima, we sold it and purchased a 2004 Mazda6 wagon, which we still drive in 2019. One of the primary criteria I applied in selecting the Mazda was that it features a double-wishbone front suspension, which makes for a HUGE improvement in handling compared to the Nissan Maxima. A night-vs.-day difference. Of, course, with the second generation of the Mazda6, the green eye-shades at Ford (which then owned controlling interest in Mazda) dictated cost-cutting measures that included switching to a Macpherson strut front suspension.

Which is why our 2004 Mazda6 is quite probably the last Mazda that we ever shall buy or drive.
 
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