Mazda accents performance in 6

Mazda 6
Wheelbase: 105.3 inches

Length: 186.8 inches

Width: 70.1 inches

Height: 56.7 inches

Engines: 2.3-liter I-4/3.0-liter V-6

Horsepower: 150 @ 6,500 rpm/219 @ 6,250 rpm

Torque: 152 lbs.-ft. @ 4,000 rpm/202 lbs.-ft. @ 4,750 rpm

Curb weight: N/A

Price:N/A

TOKYO — The redesigned Toyota Camry and Nissan Altima have raised the bar for performance and equipment levels in the mid-sized sedan segment, and would-be competitors have more to think about than ever.

That’s why shoppers looking for the latest Mazda 626 next year won’t find one. Instead, they’ll find the 6, a wider and more powerful vehicle that Mazda says can’t even be considered a 626 redesign.

“The only thing it has in common with the 626 is the number of doors,” said Phil Martens, Mazda Motor Corp.’s managing director in charge of product strategy, design and development.

Mazda hopes the 6, to be launched worldwide next fall, will earn spurs as one of the segment’s most performance-oriented vehicles. The U.S. market gets only the sedan version, while Europe and Japan also receive a wagon and hatchback.

Predatory design

Mazda says the 6 will be the first product in a comprehensive new design strategy. “We want to end up with a design that is much more aggressive, much more edgy and a different type of body language,” said Martens. “The 6 was the right amount of stretch to move the brand forward. It definitely put a different template in the process of saying ‘Mazda design is no longer mainstream with a lack of emotion and styling.’ ”

Hence, the 6 looks fast. It sports thin, slanted headlamps, a sharp pentagonal grille, well-defined hood lines and shoulders and 16-inch wheels.

Mazda chief designer Tom Matano says the car looks like a “well-dressed athlete.”

At 70.1 inches wide and 186.8 inches long, the 6’s dimensions are in the same league as the redesigned Camry and Altima. To enhance performance, Mazda has gone to a double wishbone front suspension and a self-leveling, multilink rear suspension designed to minimize changes in handling as the sedan carries different weight distributions. In contrast, the 626 uses MacPherson struts in the front and a twin-trapezoidal link in the rear, both with stabilizer bars. The 6 also has electronic braking force distribution, which, in tandem with available antilock brakes, controls front and rear wheels independently to improve the driver’s control of the vehicle.

A 2.3-liter inline-four rated at 150 hp, in line with the redesigned Camry but 30 hp under Altima, is standard, while a 3.0-liter, 219-hp V-6 is offered as an option. Both engines are constructed from aluminum.

A Mazda spokesman said it’s too early to project the likely split between four- and six-cylinder buyers.

The 6’s interior features a center console outlined in metallic accents. The size was increased over the 626 after Mazda engineers looked at consumer reaction from focus groups. The 6 features bottle holders on the door frame, a storage box in the center of the instrument panel and a large-volume glove box with a removable wastebasket.

Center of excellence

The 6 also will be significant to Mazda’s parent, Ford Motor Co., because it is the first vehicle off the Ford group’s global B-C platform.

The platform is supposed to be used by several brands under the Ford umbrella and was developed with group input, Martens said. He acknowledged, though, that some Ford brands have not agreed to use it.

Tags: 6 Altima Camry

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