NEW FOR 2008:

– Sport Wagon and Mazdaspeed6 discontinued
– Standard auto-off headlamps; light-off sound warning feature removed
– Tire pressure monitoring system standard with 17- and 18-inch alloy wheels
– Sedan exterior colours: Bright Red replaces Redfire Metallic, Silver Metallic replaces Stormfront Grey Metallic and Glacier Silver Metallic
– Sport exterior colours: Silver Metallic added; Stormfront Grey Metallic, Dark Cherry Mica and Glacier Silver Metallic deleted

With an all-new Atenza – the Japanese name for the Mazda6 – premiering at shows in Germany and Japan, changes to the Mazda6 are minimal. The wagon and Mazdaspeed6 have been discontinued, leaving the sedan and Sport hatchback, both in GS and GT trim. Base prices rise by $100 for each trim line over 2007.

Two engines are offered: a 2.3-litre four-cylinder engine, mated to a five-speed manual transmission or optional five-speed automatic with manual shift mode, and a 3.0-litre V6 with five-speed manual or optional six-speed automatic with manual shift mode.

Features on the GS I4 sedan include 16-inch steel wheels, air conditioning, heated mirrors, variable intermittent wipers, driver’s seat height adjustment, 60/40 split-folding rear seat, floor mats, tilt and telescopic wheel, power windows, power locks with keyless remote, CD stereo, and cruise control.

The GT I4 sedan adds 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic climate control, eight-way power driver’s seat, heated leather seats, leather-wrapped wheel, alarm system, six-CD stereo with wheel-mounted controls, power sunroof, and electroluminescent gauges.

The GS V6 sedan is outfitted similarly to the four-cylinder, but adds 17-inch alloy wheels, leather-wrapped wheel with audio controls, and eight-way power driver’s seat. It can also be optioned with a power sunroof that can’t be added to the four-cylinder.

The GT V6 sedan is similar to the GT I4, but adds 18-inch alloy wheels and Xenon headlamps, and can be optioned with a navigation system.

Features on the GS I4 Sport include 17-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, side sill extensions, rear spoiler, variable intermittent wipers, intermittent rear wiper, fog lamps, CD stereo with wheel-mounted controls, power windows, power locks with keyless entry, eight-way power driver’s seat, 60/40 split-folding rear seat, floor mats, leather-wrapped tilt and telescopic wheel, alarm system, electroluminescent gauges, and locking glove-box.

The GT I4 Sport adds automatic climate control, Xenon headlamps, six-CD stereo, power sunroof, garage door opener, heated leather seats, and alarm system.

The GS V6 Sport is equipped similarly to the four-cylinder model, but a power sunroof can be added as optional equipment.

The GT V6 Sport is equipped similarly to the four-cylinder GT, but adds 18-inch alloy wheels.

Like the smaller Mazda3, the Mazda6 feels more expensive than its price-tag. Steering is direct and responsive, the ride is comfortable, and fit-and-finish is superb. The loss of a wagon and the Mazdaspeed version may be cruel news to some buyers, but it’s expected that the new Japanese unveilings should result in an upcoming update to the model line, including a higher-performance version.

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