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Fun 2 Drive Ratio

Throughout the 23 years that Mazda produced the 626, it always fell short of the main competition, that is, the Honda Accord and the Toyota Camry. It seemed like the 626 lacked in at least one category, which gave an edge to the competition. One category that the 626 and all Mazdas never lacked was in the fun -to -drive department. It was obvious upon driving one that these cars were sport-oriented, but the cars never looked sporty.

In the early ’90s, Mazda tried to show the industry its true colors by introducing the last generation RX 7 (now much sought-after) and giving select cars the sporty good looks that they deserved. But was unsuccessful and ran into debt in the process. In 1999, Mazda tried again, this time adding the slogan “zoom zoom,” which is still in effect today. The first car to get a make over was the Protegé; its sales almost doubled in its first year. Next was the 626. The car that resulted was radically different from the 626, hence the new name, 6.

When I first saw the 6, I was excited. And I thought to myself, finally, a serious contender. Upon driving the 6, I knew immediately that this vehicle was not meant for parents like the previous 626s targeted. This car is meant for the young racer who is between 25 and 35 years old.

For example, standard on all 6s is a multi-functional, leather wrapped, 3-spoke steering wheel that allows you to work the stereo and cruise control. There’s a silvery metallic finish on the dash and console that is tasteful and sporty. The seats are firm, and comfortable. They are supportive for those tight corners. The 6 is an outstanding sports sedan. Nothing in the same category comes close in style, handling and cornering. The Camry and Accord are out of the game now because they were designed to appeal to your grandmother.

Apparently this is common knowledge, as the 6 is the only car in its category to be offered in Speed Yellow. The only real competition is the Nissan Altima, but its interior is cheap, and the Altima is very expensive at $28,000 plus. In the 6, there is no compromise. It is the Japanese BMW in every way, down to the orange dash and console lighting. Pricing is also the best in the category. In fact, the top-of-the line 6 is over $4,000 less than the top-of-line Altima. In a recent comparison by Road and Track, the 6 placed second, but was only 0.6 points away from the number one Accord, for reasons even the magazine couldn’t explain.

The choices of engines are a 190bhp, 2.3L four banger and my choice, the 220bhp, 3.0L 24-valve six pot, both available with the standard five speed manual and a manu-matic. There simply is nothing brand new out there with four doors in the $19,000 to $24,000 category that can deliver more performance, style, reliability and fun. Well, except for the MazdaSpeed Protegé, but then again, it is also a Mazda.

Contact Andrew Popoola at