MazdaSpeed6; photo by Jeff Burry. Click image to enlarge

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By Jeffy Burry

Countless performance oriented-sedans have been produced over the years, many of them sub-brands of major vehicle marques. Noteworthy are the Audi S-series cars, the BMW M line, Mercedes-Benz AMG models, Jaguar R-series, Ford SVT and SHO sedans, Chrysler SRT sedans, Subaru WRX, and Nissan SE-R models.

Mazda’s performance car wing, Mazdaspeed, introduced a hotter version of the Mazda6 in 2005. The 2006 MazdaSpeed6 came equipped with a turbocharged 2.3-litre, 16-valve inline four-cylinder powerplant producing a respectable 274 horsepower and 280 lb.-ft. of torque, a six-speed manual transmission, sport suspension, and standard all-wheel drive.

Though it looks muscular and purposeful, the Mazdaspeed6 isn’t spoiled by overly-large air scoops and spoilers. Its standard aero package included a rear lip spoiler, a blacked out rear diffuser sporting dual exhausts, front air intake, flared front fenders, 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels, and a 45 mm hood bulge under which the turbocharger and intercooler are stuffed.

MazdaSpeed6; photo by Jeff Burry. Click image to enlarge

Exterior colour choices were few: black, metallic red, moist silver and pearl white (the latter only available south of the border).

To lure performance enthusiasts away from other brands, Mazda equipped the Speed6 with all-wheel drive and one choice of transmission – a six-speed manual. Zero to 100 km/h took just 6.2 seconds.

The Speed6’s multilink suspension included stiffer springs and shocks and was further complemented by larger anti-roll bars. Additional steel reinforcements are found in the cowl (cross-body beam located under the dash) and a cross brace behind the rear seats, adding a 50 per cent gain in structural integrity – thus no 60/40 split-folding rear seats, but the trunk does offer up ample space (you’ll need a roof rack for your skis).

The interior of the Speed6 is nicely appointed, with leather seats (complete with white stitching), Bose premium sound system, eight-way adjustable power driver’s seat, radio and cruise controls mounted on the leather-wrapped steering wheel and a red on black instrument panel for easy day and night-time reading.

The pedals and six-speed shifter are all aluminum-capped and enhance the sporty feel of the interior – all in all, a well-balanced use of fabrics and finishes that make for a pleasing environment for both short and long hauls.

MazdaSpeed6; photos by Greg Wilson. Click image to enlarge

The Speed6 was available in two trim levels – Sport and Grand Touring, with the latter adding heated leather front seats, keyless start and power driver’s seat.

The Sport model already included an impressive list of creature comforts comprised of a tilt steering wheel, cruise control, HID headlights, automatic climate control and power windows and door locks. Optional equipment included a moonroof and navigation system (not available in Canada).

With a keen eye on safety elements, the Speed6 was equipped with antilock disc brakes, stability control, seat-mounted side air bags, head curtain air bags and whiplash-reducing front seats. It scored a perfect five stars for frontal-impact protection by the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration).

Not surprisingly, the Speed6 remained unchanged for the 2007 model year. At the time of its introduction, Mazda was quoted as saying, “the Speed6 was the highest performing and best-handling sedan that it had built to date – the ultimate zoom-zoom machine!”

Production numbers for the Speed6 were kept to a minimum, with approximately 5,000 units built for both the 06’ and 07’ model years, making it a possible future classic. Base pricing in Canada at the time was $35,995. Add the government’s share and the price was pushed slightly over $40,000 – not inexpensive by any means.

Today, these vehicles are selling used at approximately half their original sticker price, making a used Speed6 good value for the dollar.

If you are in the market for a very fast and very capable mid-size performance sedan with the improved traction and stability of an AWD system and the practicality of four doors, the Mazdaspeed6 is a good all-around compromise.

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