When a large company acquires a smaller company , the smaller company often suffers. American Motors Corporation was the smallest manufacturer in the US. Chrysler bought AMC in 1987. Chrysler wanted Jeep. Specifically the new Jeep Grand Cherokee that was in development.
Chrysler rebadged the AMC cars into its new Eagle Division. While the Jeep division was thriving, in 1999 Chrysler closed Eagle. There are some who believe Daimler (Mercedes Benz) bought Chrysler for Jeep and its successful Minivan.
Due to Daimler’s reluctance to allow Chrysler to continue development and use quality materials Chrysler vehicles suffered lower fit and finish quality as well as sub-standard parts being supplied and used in spite of concerns. Although the resulting vehicles produced were still adequate, they were generally not on par with the competition. (Wikipeda)
Mazda’s has been around since 1920’s . In the late sixties, Mazda turned the auto world on its ear. With its Rotary (Wankel) engines. The small light weight engine about the size a an 1.8 liter four that produced as much power as standard piston V8 engine. The Wankel engine with 3 moving parts is more reliable than a piston engine (a four cylinder engine has more than 40 moving parts). By the 70’s nearly every auto manufacturer was interested in developing the Wankel engine. More Mazda’s are raced every week than any other car brand. The downside of the Wankel engine is that its thirsty. The last Mazda sold in the US and powered by a Wankel engine was the RX-8 the model was retired in 2012.
In 1979 the Ford Motor Company bought 7% of Mazda. a small stake in Mazda. Mazda was building highly regarded small cars and pickup trucks. By 1996 Ford owned nearly 34 percent of Mazda. Many existing Mazda platforms was used for many Ford vehicles including the Escort , Ford Probe, Ford Ranger, and the First Generation Ford Fusion. The current Fusion. Lincolns MKZ and the Ford Edge platform is based on Mazda’s derived CD3 platform (now CD4) The two companies shared vehicles engines and transmissions and many Mazda’s were built at Ford’s assembly plants. Ford reduced it’s share of Mazda to three percent.
2003 Mazda brought Zoom to the midsize segment the first generation 6. The 6 made Car and Drivers ten best in its year. It was the Canadian Car of the year it was the Semperit Irish Car of the year and the Best car in Australia.
The Second generation(2009) 6 grew in size and was assembled in North America. It shared engines and transmissions with the Ford Fusion, Mercury Milan and Lincoln MKZ. the four vehicles were essentially the same car.
The Fusion is Fords most important car, over 240 thousand Fusions were sold in 2012 while an estimated thirty five thousand Mazda 6 were sold in 2012.
A Clean Sheet of Paper
The third generation 6 is assembled in Japan. Currently there is one engine choice, a 2.5 liter 4 cylinder producing 184 horsepower with 185 pound feet of torque. Later this year the company will offer a 2.2 turbo diesel z( A first from a Japanese Company). A six speed automatic and a six speed manual (on the lower trims are available) MPG is 27 city /38 highway with the automatic subtract 1/1 for the manual. The styling of the Mazda is fresh, in our view only the front end of the Fusion is a better looking car, from a styling stand point the car is a winner.
The 2014 interior is clean, soft materials replaced acres of hard plastic in the 2012 6. The only let down is the design of the entertainment center, its looks aftermarket but works well. Front leg and hip room was good for this big driver. Rear seat room was average for the class as was trunk space. Overall the quality is first rate.
I drove the Grand Touring Model the top level). The leather seat remained comfortable after a four hour drive. The center controller was easy to operate. The navigation system was based on the popular Tom Tom nav system. No need to pull over to study the manual. The touchscreen response was very good.
The 6 had a firm ride some where between the Honda Accord and the Fusion, it didn’t embarrass itself of over expansion joints and bumps.
HWY 20 the Zoom is Back
Midsize cars aren’t normally fun to drive, the closest to fun is the Ford Fusion*. On Hwy 20, the 6 brought a couple of smiles. Steering was spot on. The 6 eagerly took the corners on 20 with very little lean. the automatic transmission sapped some of the fun away on the twisty hill road. Which is common in cars with automatic transmissions they’re programmed to hold those gears for better mpg’s From what I read in the automobile magazines I was driving the wrong 6. I should had the 6 speed. Braking was excellent, there was no fade. …no complaints from the big fella. While the Zoom is back, I’m not sure the other Zoom is there (hoping to test the 6 speed)
The 5.8 touchscreen works well, but seems old fashion. The 6 isn’t a very quiet car, its not offensive, but if you have driven a Toyota Camry or a Ford Fusion you may find the road noise challenging. The six speed is only available on the base car. If you want to shift it yourself, you will have to do it without Bluetooth, nav, or sunroofs.
BIG MAN RIDE
I’m not a fan of cars in this segment because they are generally dull and not much fun to drive. When it comes to looks the Ford Fusion is undeniably the best looking car in the segment. Its a fun car to drive, however, its interior is tighter, the rear seat is smaller and Ford has had issues with new technology from the My Touch to its new transmissions and a few of its engines.
As for room, quality, simplicity, handling its the Mazda 6 and to my eye,when it comes to styling its a close second to the Fusion. A Mazda 6 with manual transmission and most power equipment can be had for less than 23 grand. Make this car an outstanding buy.
* (Haven’t fully tested the Ford Fusion-Coming Soon)