February 17, 2007
By Jeremy Cato
Too bad about the Mazda MX-6 Mystere.
When it was last re-invented for the 1993 model year it became one of the more elegant coupes of the decade. Yet flagging sales doomed it to the land of discontinued models.
But if you’re in the used market looking for a stylish two-door with good performance and above average reliability, the MX-6 is worth a long look.
Note, however, that there is a tremendous difference between the 1993 and newer models and earlier models. Aside from the looks, the newer cars had better handling, steering, ride quality and manageable power.
For 1993, the MX-6 Mystere shared its platform, powertrain and suspension with the then-new 626 Cronos, and both were built at the same Flat Rock, Michigan, plant too. So, too, was the Ford Probe of the day, which by the way has also been discontinued.
But while both the 626 and MX-6 shared the same front-wheel-drive platform, they perform totally differently. On the one hand there is the 626, a family-mobile. On the other, the MX-6, a stylish 2+2 sports coupe built for the driving enthusiast.
The thumbnail sketch of the MX-6 goes like this: fast, nifty and forgiving handling, impressive ride quality, sleek looks. It needs them all because the MX-6 arrived to compete with the likes of Honda’s Prelude, Toyota’s Celica, Nissan’s 240SX.
As for comparisons with the MX-6′s predecessor here is the most vital point of all: the newer car was not turbocharged. Which in this case means torque-steer was virtually eliminated. And make no mistake torque-steer was a huge problem with the older MX-6. (Torque-steer, by the way, is a condition whereby under hard acceleration front-wheel-drive cars suffer hard-to-control steering pull to one side.
So where pre-1993 turbocharged MX-6 models were skittish as a colt, the newer cars had a very neutral feel. They also had a longer wheelbase (up 3.8 inches to 102.8 or 2,610 mm) which improved straightline stability and a wider track (up almost two inches to 59.1 or 1,500 mm) for better cornering. The body structure was also made more rigid, and the suspension tuned for more sportiness.
The 1993 MX-6 was longer, lower, and wider than its predecessor, yet it suffered from slightly smaller interior dimensions. The difference was really noticeable in rear seat head room, which was by more than five cm./two inches.
Still, this coupe was and still is an eye grabber inside and out. The cockpit had the flowing curves industry types call “organic.” The low cowl improved visibility and created a feeling of openness. And controls and instruments were simple and refined.
As for power, base versions were sold with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine (114-188 hp.), while more expensive versions got a 2.5-litre V-6 (160-164 hp.). Top-of-the-line models came loaded with alloy wheels, fog lamps, leather-wrapped steering wheel, anti-theft alarm and four-wheel disc brakes. Standard down the line were power windows, cruise control, a six-speaker stereo system and a driver’s side air bag. Anti-lock braking was optional on both models.
The V6-powered cars delivered spirited acceleration, but the four-cylinder still had plenty of zip. Be warned that if you want serious zoominess, find a five-speed MX-6; the four-speed automatic robs this car of its performance characteristics.
Mazda stopped selling the MX-6 because of a whole host of reasons, poor sales first among them. So be warned there aren’t many used ones out there. It’s a shame really, that a good car never really found its place in the market.
Used vehicle prices vary depending on factors such as general condition, odometer reading, usage history and options fitted. Always have a used vehicle checked by an experienced auto technician before you buy.
For information on vehicle service bulletins issued by the manufacturer, visit www.nhtsa.dot.gov.
For information on consumer complaints about specific models, see www.lemonaidcars.com.