Used Vehicle Review: Mazdaspeed6, 2006–2007 used car reviews mazda
Mazdaspeed6, 2006-2007. Click image to enlarge

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Mazdaspeed6 Owner Reviews

Review by Justin Pritchard

Vehicle Type: Performance Sedan

History/Description: The Mazdaspeed6 was a short-lived, turbocharged, all-wheel drive, surface-to-surface missile of a sedan that was built on the original (sportiest) generation of Mazda’s family sedan. It turned the dial to ‘11’ on all-season thrills and Japanese performance and luxury—and more units than ever are popping up in the used car market affordably these days.

This is a car with a price tag that approached $40,000 when new—though units are popping up in the used market for a fraction of that. Suitable for luxurious cruising, track days, winter backroads drifting, family road trips or anything in between, this do-it-all performance car combines attainability, practicality and confident performance like few used machines. Give this one some consideration if you’re shopping for an Audi S4, BMW 330xi, Subaru WRX STI or comparable winter rocket.

Engines / Trim: Under the hood, a 2.3 litre turbo “Direct Ignition Spark Injection’ (DISI) engine that cranked out 274 horsepower, and the sporty model came only with a six-speed manual transmission, AWD, and a host of premium features.

Look for keyless ignition, xenon lights with a leveling switch, a sunroof, heated leather, Bose audio, automatic climate control, full power accessories, and plenty more. The shopping process here is simple as compared to similar models from BMW or Audi, as all Mazdaspeed6 models came just one way: loaded.

Used Vehicle Review: Mazdaspeed6, 2006–2007 used car reviews mazda Used Vehicle Review: Mazdaspeed6, 2006–2007 used car reviews mazda
Mazdaspeed6, 2006-2007. Click image to enlarge

What Owners Like: Most Mazdaspeed6 owners report enjoying plenty of power, good gas mileage, discreet and mature looks, and a plethora of upscale features. All-weather traction, a luxurious cabin and plenty of driving thrills are also highly rated. A great blend of performance and luxury round out the package.

In all, this is a ‘sleeper’ sedan—one that’s capabilities exceed its looks. That’s a good thing if you’re not on good terms with your local radar cop. And, when your radar detector goes off, you’ll experience another well-loved attribute of the Mazdaspeed 6—its braking. Many owners note the confidence provided by the car’s high-performance braking system, noting exceptional high-speed braking performance and stability in hard stops.

A smooth, well-rounded ride and handling equation is also highly rated, as is the Bose audio system. Add in relatively decent room for passengers and cargo, and you’ve got a sports sedan that’s ready for year-round use.

What Owners Dislike: The Mazdaspeed6’s aggressive and heavy clutch is a common complaint, with numerous owners wishing for smoother and ‘easier’ engagement from the leftmost pedal. Some wish for a more aggressive exhaust note, too. As it goes with many turbocharged cars, this one requires pricier premium gas, which makes many owners grumble. Don’t cheap out and fill your Mazdaspeed6 with low-octane fuel as the engine computer will reward you by using the fuel more quickly and knocking back performance.

Other gripes include the lack of an auxiliary input for the stereo, some interior rattles with age, and ‘thin, easily-chipped’ paint.

Here’s a list of owner reviews of the Mazdaspeed6: http://www.cars.com/mazda/mazdaspeed6/2006/consumer-reviews/

And here: http://www.carreview.com/cat/automobiles/midsize-compact/mazda/mazdaspeed6-2005-2007/prd_403932_1531crx.aspx

Common Issues: Issues have surfaced with rear differential and axle problems, which could affect the differential bracket, drive axles or even the bolts that hold the whole bit together. Reports of sheared-off bolts aren’t uncommon. On a test-drive, listen for any unwelcomed noises from the rear of the potential Mazdaspeed6—particularly of the grinding, clunking variety, and particularly while going slowly around a corner or as you unload the clutch. A repetitive, cycling ‘clunking’ noise during aggressive acceleration from the rear of the vehicle is also suspect.

Note that aggressive driving or participation in motorsports (sanctioned or otherwise) could aggravate this issue. If your used Mazdaspeed6 candidate was owned at some point by an aspiring parking-lot drift champion, the rear-end issues are more likely to surface. Thankfully, some aftermarket braces are available to beef up the rear end for this sort of driving, and a Mazda dealer will be familiar with the issue, and able to quickly diagnose and repair it, if necessary.

Used Vehicle Review: Mazdaspeed6, 2006–2007 used car reviews mazda Used Vehicle Review: Mazdaspeed6, 2006–2007 used car reviews mazda
Mazdaspeed6, 2006-2007. Click image to enlarge

A mechanic can also check the condition of the vehicle’s tires and brakes—always a good idea in a car that’s likely to have had the heck driven out of it. Don’t assume the seller isn’t trying to stick you with an expensive repair or replacement bill, ensuring the tires and brakes have plenty of meat left on them. If either are chewed up, call it into pricing negotiations. Remember that cars like the Mazdaspeed6 are designed to reliably stand up to sporty, performance driving for years – but that abuse and neglect of its maintenance requirements will reduce reliability and longevity considerably.

Used Vehicle Review: Mazdaspeed6, 2006–2007 used car reviews mazda
Mazdaspeed6, 2006-2007. Click image to enlarge

The transmission should shift smoothly with no grinding or ‘clunking’, which could indicate wear-related issues within the gearbox. Note any clutch slippage while shifting too. A good driver won’t wear the clutch badly, but an abusive driver can take years off of clutch life in a matter of days. Signs of a worn-out clutch include grinding into gear, or a pedal that’s slow to return to its resting position. A consistent grinding sensation or ‘bite back’ from the gearbox while shifting from 1 to 2 or 2 to 3 could be a sign of a worn out synchro—which is typically caused by repeated, aggressive gearshifts.

Avoid any used Mazdaspeed6 model with extensive modifications, especially to the turbocharger system. Modifications like these could add power and driving pleasure, but they could also leave shoppers with someone else’s headache. Be sure, in particular, that the turbocharger system hasn’t been modified to run more boost than the factory intended. This is a common upgrade in many boosted cars, because it can unlock free horsepower. Done properly, and with supporting modifications to other components and electronics, it can be reliable. Done improperly (which is more likely), turning up the boost can turn the engine into soup. Avoid a heavily modified Mazdaspeed6 unless you’re familiar with engine tuning. Note that intake and exhaust upgrades are common and largely considered safe, so long as the quality of the parts and installation are good.

Finally, have a mechanic check for signs of excessive oil in the intake system, which could be the result of a worn-out turbocharger or turbo seals. The turbocharger should last the life of the vehicle if the oil change schedule is adhered to, and if the seller let the engine ‘idle down’ a moment or two after hard driving. Other signs of a bad turbo include smoke from the exhaust pipes, particularly while the car is idling for a few minutes before driving. Start your test-drive and walkaround by starting the engine and inspecting for tailpipe smoke once operating temperature is reached, and BEFORE driving. Also, ensure the seller hasn’t pre-warmed the engine ahead of your arrival to conceal a smoke-related problem.

Direct Injection engines, like the one used in the Mazdaspeed6, are more and more proving to have issues with carbon and other gunk building up on the intake valves, since the fuel injector is mounted inside of the cylinder and unable to ‘clean’ deposits away from the intake tract. This has proven an issue for some Mazdaspeed6 owners. Cleaning of the valves is a bit tricky, but possible. Signs of trouble include lower-than-expected performance, as well as low readings in a compression test. One of the best ways to combat valve gunk buildup is to use a quality grade of gas and engine oil, and to use a ‘catch can’ installed into the engine’s PCV system, which collects the oily blow-by that otherwise colonizes the intake tract and burns onto the valves. Note that modification of the engine’s emissions control system, including the PCV system, might be illegal in your locale.

Other checks mainly centre around fluid leaks—particularly from the radiator area up front, and the transmission in the middle. With the car in the air on a mechanic’s hoist, these should be easy to spot.

Used Vehicle Review: Mazdaspeed6, 2006–2007 used car reviews mazda Used Vehicle Review: Mazdaspeed6, 2006–2007 used car reviews mazda Used Vehicle Review: Mazdaspeed6, 2006–2007 used car reviews mazda Used Vehicle Review: Mazdaspeed6, 2006–2007 used car reviews mazda
Mazdaspeed6, 2006-2007. Click image to enlarge

A lengthy list of potential issues and their fixes is available here:
http://forum.mazda6club.com/mazdaspeed6/236974-mazdaspeed-6-mps-noob-thread-summary-guide-new-owners.html

The Verdict: A healthy, non-modified Mazdaspeed6 should prove a fairly reliable way to access upscale, all-season motoring thrills affordably. Most of the issues that have surfaced with this model will be quickly apparent to an inspecting Mazda mechanic, and a pre-purchase inspection at a Mazda dealer is highly recommended. If the rear-end and turbocharger system check out, and the model you’re considering has had its maintenance schedule adhered to, you should be able to buy with relative confidence.

Recalls:
http://www.mazdaspeedforums.org/forum/f505/06-07-mazdaspeed-6-tsb-recall-list-88451/

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