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Well, I finally got around to test driving the Mazda6 this weekend. The nearest Mazda dealer is about half an hour drive away, so it's not exactly convenient. Also, it's not high on my girlfriend's priority list, so she had to be coaxed along. Anyway, on to the driving impressions.

First, I drove a white Mazda 6s 5 speed. It had the premium package, but no sport, no comfort. The upholstery is like corduroy. It's not very soft, but does look durable. I could live with it, but I'm planning on the sport package so it's probably a moot point. The tilt/telescoping wheel is fabulous. I was quickly able to get an ideal driving position. I do like the power seat. It's decadent, but what the hey. The rest of the interior is as I've expected. The exterior was of course stunning. The white looked a little muted, especially without the sport package. Looking at other cars on the lot, I really loved the Lapis blue. The Redfire looked a little too brown, the silver was sort of blah, and the steel gray too dark. The black was gorgeous, but we all know the problems with black. The yellow was eye-catching of course, but not my style. All in all, if they don't bring in the Titanium Gray, I'm leaning toward the Lapis Blue.

Controls: The wheel is great. After adjustment, it felt like part of my body. It's a nice size: small in diameter but meaty. The clutch is VERY light; almost too light. You could pound that thing in and out all day without feeling tired. (When I went back to my Forester, the clutch felt like a lead weight all of a sudden.) The shifter is very mechanical. It slots home very nicely. It feels heavy. There is a sense of weight to the whole process. It's not conducive to quick shifting, but the feel is nice in spite of this. All controls are well laid out ergonomically speaking. The pedals are in pretty good position for heel-toe maneuvers.

Handling: As has been previously reported, the steering is light on center, but well weighted in turns. The suspension is an absolute marvel. It is composed, predictable, and sure-footed. Body roll is minimal and unobtrusive. Torque steer is pretty much non-existent. Simply the best handling front-drive mid-size I've ever had the privilege to drive. Comparisons to BMW may seem far-fetched on paper, but I see what people mean now. The front-driver reacts and behaves more like a proper rear wheel drive sport sedan than anything I've ever sat in. The level of composure in the suspension inspires absolute confidence. I'll even be so cheesy as to say I felt one with the car.

Power: The Duratec sourced V6 was very enjoyable. Although somewhat sluggish below 3000 RPM, it opened up with a pleasant throaty growl at the upper registers. Above 4500 RPM, it began inducing an evil grin that simply wouldn't go away. It behaved more like a smaller turbo-charged engine than a typical large displacement American motor. Personally I like this type of tuning. It basically gives you two different cars. The quiet easy-going purr for around town and in traffic, and the throaty, sporty beast for the twisties.

NVH: Overall very good. Wind noise began to be noticeable above 75 MPH. The road noise was a little annoying, but not as bad as some have made out. No squeaks or rattles to speak of.

The 6i was like a minime version of the same experience. All the roar and growl, and great handling, and nice cabin, but without the power. It was fun as well, but not in the same way. I didn't really notice much of a difference in balance between the two; the V6 didn't feel noticeably more nose heavy than the 4. All in all, I'd definitely give the nod to the V6 if you have the means.

Just for comparison's sake, I also went and drove a WRX sedan. Power from a roll felt very similar to the V6. The engine is naturally more sluggish off boost, but there is a more urgent pull above 3500RPM. The suspension was a bit more roly-poly, which is to be expected given its rally roots. The handling is very good, but different. Again, only natural given the differences in size and powertrain. After being in the 6's cabin, the WRX felt a bit small, cheap, and noisy. No surprise, given the different class of car. Hmm, so it seems the only real similarities between these two cars are sporty aspirations, price, and power. In spite of this, they're both still on my list.
 

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Reading Topic: Test drove 6s and 6i manuals

You're about where I'm at. :)

Oh, I went and test drove a Z again. It was a Track model. WOW!
If this car a bit more room I'd be all over it. It's simply a sport car no question. It just grips the road like a newborn chimp hangin on to it's momma. The handling is lighter and tighter than the
G35 equivalent but not as smooth or roomy.

But, I'm between the WRX and 6 as well. I still feel the WRX has more sport where the 6 has more sedan.

Tome
 

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Reading Topic: Test drove 6s and 6i manuals

Oh, the WRX is sportier without question. I'm just not sure it's the right balance for me at this point in my life. Five years ago? No brainer. But at this point I may be willing to sacrifice that last 5% of performance for those "old man" amenities I used to despise so much.

As for the Z vs. G35 coupe: couldn't you buy Z suspension bits and bolt them on the G35 coupe if you wanted to?
 

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Reading Topic: Test drove 6s and 6i manuals

The 6s may have felt sluggish but the engine even at low rpm's really opens up after 1K when the engine breaks in. Much smoother. Biggest difference I 've ever noticed in a car after break-in.
 

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Reading Topic: Test drove 6s and 6i manuals

Thanks for your Impressions Kenoka !

God I wish we had the V6 available in Australia...
 

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Reading Topic: Test drove 6s and 6i manuals

I can't imagine why you don't, other than the logistics of importing them from North America. It seems a natural fit.
 

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They probably have worked out the pricing and found that it might be far too expensive and not worth the effort.
 

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Reading Topic: Test drove 6s and 6i manuals

Yeah, in order to bring the V6 to Australia, they would have to ship the engines from North America and retool the Hiroshima plant. Probably not feasible given the number of cars sold in the Aussie market.

Look on the bright side though Rodney, I'm sure when a turbocharged version becomes available, you'll get it before we do (if we get it at all).
 

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The 4 cylinder manual is certainly more than powerful enough for me, I think. I haven't test driven one yet (end of April, hopefully); but compared to the cars that I have driven, it won't take a lot to feel powerful. My family owns two cars (both MT) - a 1990 Dodge Colt with a 1.5L, 72hp engine, and a 1999 VW Jetta with a 90hp TDI diesel engine. Neither of them feels particularly sluggish or underpowered (the Colt actually feels suprisingly peppy); so I would imagine I will find the 4 cylinder 6 to have plenty of power.
 

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Replying to Topic 'Test drove 6s and 6i manuals'

QUOTE
Originally posted by M-006


            You're about where I'm at.  :)

Oh, I went and test drove a Z again.  ... It's simply a sport car no question.[/b]
Too bad it's heavy. I'd like to drive one myself.

QUOTE
But, I'm between the WRX and 6 as well.   I still feel the WRX has more sport where the 6 has more sedan.

Tome[/b]
While I haven't driven a WRX, I have driven a "standard" Impreza, and would find it hard to believe that the WRX would exhibit the same road feel. The WRX is smaller which is good, but the '6 feels amazingly smaller than it is.

If the WRX feels anything like the Impreza (which it should) then it feels heavy and solid with minimal road feel and connection.

*disclaimer: As I said, I haven't driven a WRX. I'm sure it's a fun car.
 

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Reading Topic: Test drove 6s and 6i manuals

If the WRX feels anything like the Impreza (which it should) then it feels heavy and solid with minimal road feel and connection.

*disclaimer: As I said, I haven't driven a WRX. I'm sure it's a fun car.
******

Then, drive before you speak. :)
You don't get as much positive press as the WRX has received if you're merely an "ok" automobile.

You've got to test the Z. It's pretty amazing. It belies it's weight very well. It feels light on it's feet and some would find it too quick but it's for sport car drivers so others should simply not apply.
In comparison, the Infiniti G35 coupe is a better daily ride, more room, and beautiful but subdued appearance. Drive both and the G35 is the sport-touring car whereas the Z is the SPORT car.

Tome
 
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