MAZDA does a pretty amazing job at punching above its weight.
Compared to the likes of GM, VW and Toyota it’s a minnow, yet there’s not a dud car in its range, a range that spans everything from city cars to seven-seat SUVs to high-riding workhorse utes.
Well done Mazda, but we want more. Call us greedy, but for a company with its proud sporting heritage to have just one true driver’s car in its range (MX-5, duh), is not enough, especially when there’s product ripe for the go-faster treatment.
Mazda’s MPS brand was the ultimate expression of its “Zoom, Zoom” philosophy, injecting true turbocharged performance into the 3 and 6, offering left-field alternatives to more established performance cars like the VW Golf GTI and Subaru WRX.
It’s understandable that halo models are put on the backburner while development concentrates on the volume sellers, but with Mazda on fire in Australia it just needs some hot metal to pour some fuel on the flames.
Everyone loves a fast wagon, so here’s a Mazda6 MPS.
Thankfully, you don’t have to look far in the Mazda family for a suitable engine. The 2.5-litre turbocharged four-pot in the CX-9 is already a strong, willing performer so with a bit of tweaking to lift outputs from 170kW/420Nm to 220kW/450Nm, it’s a no-brainer.
Sorry, hardcore enthusiasts, but it’s six-speed auto only for the 6 MPS, but that will at least make reeling off 0-100km/h in 5.0sec a piece of cake and Mazda’s SkyActiv-Drive is one of the snappier-shifting autos around. All-wheel drive is a must – fortunately the all-paw architecture exists in models sold overseas. And in right-hand drive.
Everyday useability and cost containment is the name of the game here, so 19-inch wheels remain with a more performancefocused tyre, better brake pads and a passive suspension setup that offers equal parts compliance and body control rather than stiff, razor-sharp responses. The wagon chosen not just because fast wagons are cool, but because the 80mm shorter wheelbase delivers better handling than the sedan.
The primary enemy of the 6 MPS’s performance aspirations will be weight. The base sedan is a reasonable 1462kg but this climbs to 1594kg for the top-spec wagon.
Add all-wheel drive and a turbo and this could balloon towards 1700kg.
Weight will need to saved and distributed carefully.
Price is also tricky, with the current 6 range topping out at almost $50K. To be competitive with the likes of the VW Passat 206TSI and VW Golf R wagons we’d aim for a fully loaded $55,000 sticker price to take the fight to the Germans.