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PERFORMANCE | 8 out of 10
Steering is light and alive, yet it grooves in on straight-ahead
Car and Driver
2.5-liter engine performs admirably
Road & Track
V6 furnishes ample power both around town and on the highway
With a slogan like "zoom zoom," Mazda should be expected to include sporty performance characteristics across the lineup. The 2009 Mazda Mazda6 fits the bill, combining athletic handling and peppy acceleration with a surprisingly accommodating ride.
The 2009 Mazda Mazda6 is available with two engine options: a four-cylinder that Car and Driver says offers "2.5 liters and 170 horsepower" and a more potent "60-degree, 3.7-liter V-6 of 272 horsepower." Both engines fare well in reviews read by TheCarConnection.com, and even the thrifty four-cylinder offers sufficient power for most driving. Motor Trend describes the 2.5-liter engine as "smooth and free-revving," calling it "impressive in its own right." ConsumerGuide says that "the 4-cylinder is peppy from a stop and adequate during highway passing maneuvers," and the only situation where they long for more power is "on long hill climbs." The available V-6 on the Mazda6 offers an expected performance boost, and Motor Trend expects that the new engine "should drop 0-to-60 mph times for 's' models into the sixes." Automobile Magazineadds that the V-6 has enough power to easily "light up the front tires at half-throttle off the line."
Two transmission choices are offered on the 2009 Mazda Mazda6, at least with the four-cylinder engine. AutoWeek says "the four comes with your choice of a new six-speed manual or a five-speed automatic, while the V6 gets a six-speed automatic only." Reviewers appreciate the performance of both transmissions, and the consensus is that it's hard to go wrong with either of the Mazda6's transmissions. Car and Driver reports that "the six-speed manual is paired with smooth accelerator gain and a well-coordinated shifter," while AutoWeek reviewers "fancied the four-cylinder manual model" as well, claiming that "the manual transmission allowed [them] to get the most out of the chassis." The automatic also earns rave reviews, with Automobile Magazineextolling the "perfectly smooth, rev-matched downshifts and quick, well-timed upshifts." ConsumerGuide adds that "both automatics are smooth and responsive," common praise in reviews read by TheCarConnection.com.
The Mazda Mazda6 doesn't come close to matching popular hybrid models in terms of fuel efficiency, but the four-cylinder version certainly won't break the bank. ConsumerGuide rates the Mazda6 right in the middle of the class for fuel economy, with EPA numbers that range from 20 mpg city and 29 mpg highway for the four-cylinder with the manual transmission to 21/30 mpg for the four-cylinder automatic—figures that Road & Track calls "very respectable." The bigger and more powerful V-6 gets decidedly worse fuel economy numbers, which the EPA pegs at 17 mpg city and 25 mpg on the highway, but Road & Track points out that "both the 4- and 6-cylinder engines run on lower-cost regular unleaded gasoline."
The Mazda family has featured increasingly sporty handling of late, and the 2009 Mazda Mazda6 is very capable on twisting roads. Reviewers love the steering feel, which Car and Driver says is "light and alive, yet it grooves in on straight-ahead when the path calls for it." ConsumerGuide reports that "steering is on center and reactive," while "close quarters maneuverability is aided by a relatively tight turning circle." Between the two engine choices, Automobile Magazine declares that the four-cylinder is "without question" the better handling option, since "the lighter engine gives the four-pot 6 balance unlike any other large front-wheel-drive car." One of the most impressive performance features of the Mazda Mazda6 is that it achieves its performance without sacrificing ride quality, and ConsumerGuide says "the ride is absorbent over nearly every surface, particularly on four-cylinder models." The brakes are equally impressive, with Car and Driver commenting "slack has been zeroed out of brake-pedal motion."
The 2009 Mazda Mazda6 can zoom with the best of its competition.