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Kelley Blue Book ® - 2003 Mazda MAZDA6 Overview

Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book

KBB.com 2003 Mazda MAZDA6 Overview

If You've Got Teenagers, Hide the Keys!

For the longest time, when people talked about midsize sedans, names like Honda Accord, Toyota Camry and Ford Taurus dominated the conversation, quickly followed by words such as "reliable," "familiar," and "comfortable". All of these words could just have easily been applied to Mazda's 626 sedan, but somehow the stoic Mazda middle child never jumped onto the radar screens of potential buyers the way the others in its class did. For 2003, the 626 is permanently retired and in its place appears one of the hottest rides to ever wear a Mazda sedan badge: the new MAZDA6. If this car doesn't show up on your radar screen this time around, you need to go for an eye exam.

The new MAZDA6 (yes, that's how its spelled) first arrives as a four-door sedan, soon to be followed by a handsome wagon and later, a 5-door hatch model. No other competitor offers such a variety within a single model line, the first trump card for Mazda's new car. Mazda has also raised the content and sharpened the car's look. All the MAZDA6 models have the same sporty appearance and high fit and finish—there is no stripped-down base model to dilute the MAZDA6's powerful presence. To complete the package, Mazda has equipped the MAZDA6 with two new engines: a gutsy high-reving four-cylinder and a powerhouse V6.

A quick walk around the MAZDA6 shows an acute attention to detail, and we're not just talking about the way in which the seams fit perfectly or the lustrous shine of the car's paint that catches your eye. The MAZDA6 conveys the distinct impression that it was just rolled out of a high-line customizing shop; from its side-body skirts to its aggressive front grille and headlamp treatment to its 17-inch five-spoke rims, the MAZDA6 displays an image of speed, confidence and youthful exuberance. Look closer and you'll notice how the wheels have been pushed to the far corners of the car, leaving very little overhang both front and rear. This design not only gives the car a wider, more muscular stance, it also greatly aids the driver in pin pointing the exact location of the car's front and rear bumpers.

Pop the hood, and you'll find one of two engines. The standard four cylinder is an all-new 2.3-liter that makes 160 horsepower. You'll be surprised not only by this engines ability to pull, but by is velvety smooth operation. For those who prefer speed to economy, Mazda offers a 220-horsepower 3.0-liter V6. Both engines can be teamed to your choice of either a 5-speed manual or dual-mode automatic that allow the driver to manually shift gears without the use of a clutch pedal; four cylinder models will be offered with a 4-speed automatic while the V6 models will offer a 5-speed automatic. If you love the feeling of driving a manual, you'll find that engaging the MAZDA6's clutch requires minimal effort and the shift lever slips from gate to gate with little fuss. During our time test-driving the MAZDA6, we concluded that Mazda's 5-speed manual was one of the most precise gearboxes we've experienced in a mid-priced sedan.

By now, if you've spent more than 15 minutes just looking at the MAZDA6, you've lasted longer than we did; that's because we just had to drive the car the minute we saw it. So go ahead, open the door and delight at the stylish interior that awaits you. As with all the new Mazda products, the level and quality of the materials used is first rate. Look at the attention of the door panels alone; not only are there overlapping shades interlaced with chrome, but there are differing textures and fabrics as well. A wide nickel-finished center stack highlights the dash, with large easy to find knobs controlling the audio and climate functions. The readouts for the stereo, CD and outside temp are cleverly displayed in a narrow window atop the dash; the instrument cluster is composed of an oversized speedometer and tachometer, flanked by the fuel and temperature gauges and backlit in a constantly glowing deep red light.

Finding a comfortable driving position is a breeze, thanks to the tilt and telescopic steering wheel and driver's side lower lumbar support. Once in place, you can point the MAZDA6 toward the open road and finally feel what your eyes have been telling you all along; this car is HOT. The MAZDA6 turns on a dime, recovers just as quickly and then sets itself up to do it all again. You can spend hours in this car and never grow tired of driving; the MAZDA6 is the type of car that makes you want to find the longest way home. While you're out carving up the switchbacks, you'll notice that the MAZDA6's tail end remains firmly planted to the road, even during the most hard-core cornering; you can thank the E-link rear suspension for this neat trick. E-link is Mazda rear suspension that is laid on it side, negating the need for tall rear strut towers which protrude obtrusively into the cargo area. Open the MAZDA6's trunk, and you'll find a deep, wide floor—and not a strut tower in sight.

Other nice features you'll find include spring-loaded 60/40 rear folding seats, rear map lights, overhead sunglasses holder, remote keyless entry, power windows, power door locks, air conditioning, auto-off headlamps and cruise control.

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