Available as a sedan, Sport four-door hatchback, Sport Wagon and Mazdaspeed6, the Mazda6 undergoes a few trim and safety feature changes for 2007. Horsepower ratings have changed, but it’s because they’re now measured to new SAE calculations; engine performance is the same as in 2006.

On all models, side and curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes and traction control become standard equipment. New exterior colours are Smokestone Metallic and Stormfront Grey Metallic; retiring colours are Gold Ash Metallic, Sea Blue Metallic and Sonic Blue Metallic. On the Mazdaspeed6, Titanium Grey Metallic replaces Liquid Platinum Metallic.

On sedan models, Xenon headlamps and 215/45R18 tires are standard on the GT-V6, while a voice-controlled navigation system becomes optional; the GFX sporty appearance package is standard on the GT-I4; and the Sport Package is now standard on the GS-V6.

On the Mazda6 Sport hatchback, the Sport and GFX package are now standard on the GS-I4; on the Sport Wagon, the Sport Package is standard on the GS, while the Performance Package is standard on the GT. For the Mazdaspeed6, the Leather Package can now be optioned with voice-controlled navigation.

The Mazda6 offers a 2.3-litre inline four-cylinder, a 3.0-litre V6, and on the Mazdaspeed6, a direct-injection turbocharged 2.3-litre. The Mazda6 is front-wheel drive, while the Mazdaspeed6 uses an active torque split all-wheel-drive system.

The sedan comes as the GS-I4 or GT-I4, with the 2.3-litre, and a five-speed manual transmission that can be optioned to a five speed automatic; or as the GS-V6 or GT-V6, with the 3.0-litre and five-speed manual that can be optioned to a six-speed automatic.

Features on the GS-I4 include 16-inch steel wheels, anti-lock brakes, traction control, variable intermittent wipers, CD stereo, air conditioning, power windows, power locks with keyless entry, cruise control, manual driver’s seat height adjuster, 60/40 folding rear seat, tilt and telescopic wheel, engine immobilizer, and locking glovebox.

The GS-V6 adds 17-inch alloy wheels, leather-wrapped wheel, fog lights and eight-way power driver’s seat.

The GT-I4 includes 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic climate control, heated leather seats with eight-way power driver’s adjustment, auto-dimming mirror, garage door opener, anti-theft alarm, six-CD Bose stereo, power sunroof, fog lights, leather-wrapped wheel, body-colour grille, side sill extensions, electroluminescent gauges and black headlight housing.

The GT-V6 adds 18-inch alloy wheels and Xenon headlamps.

On Sport (hatchback) models, features on the GS-I4 are similar to the sedan model, but with the addition of the Sport and GFX package, which includes 17-inch alloy wheels, leather-wrapped wheel, eight-way power driver’s seat, fog lamps, sporty appearance package and spoiler. GT models are the same as on the sedan. Sport models also have a rear wiper.

Wagon models come only with a V6 engine, in GS or GT trim. Features are similar to the sedan and Sport; a cargo net and cargo cover are also included.

The Mazdaspeed6 comes in a single trim line; it includes all GT features, and adds larger brakes, dynamic stability control, limited-slip differential, sport-tuned suspension, all-wheel drive, variable intermittent speed-sensing wipers, auto up/down on all windows, Intelligent Key lock and ignition feature, sport bucket seats, fixed rear seatback, alloy pedals, and Mazdaspeed-specific floor mats, dual exhaust, 18-inch wheels, hood, bumpers, grille and spoiler.

Like the smaller Mazda3, the Mazda6 feels more expensive than its price-tag suggests. Steering is direct and responsive, the ride is comfortable, and fit-and-finish is superb. The choice of three body styles means something for everyone; should you need extra cargo capacity but not care for the wagon’s styling, the hatchback is almost impossible to differentiate from the sedan. The seats spring forward on the three models at the touch of a latch, to form a flat floor.

The Mazdaspeed6’s rear seat doesn’t move, but the car sure does: this bargain-priced performance sedan offers up impressive horsepower and torque, and its all-wheel drive configuration digs in for extra traction and keeps the car well-balanced through hard curves. It may not be quite up to the Subaru WRX STI’s power, but it’s also $13,000 less.

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