A short while ago, there was a rumor that Mazda may kill off the Mazda6 due to low volume sales. I can’t say I was surprised but the news definitely left me sad. Actually, my first thought was literally “But what about the Shinari concept??!” As many of you know, Mazda reps have since dispelled the rumor via several outlets and made it clear the 6 is here to stay. *Whew* Those of us who are fans of “the driver’s alternative to Camry and Accord” felt like we dodged a bullet. For me though, my love for the model wasn’t always so profound. In fact, I downright loathed it. So what happened?
Rewind three years ago. Our ’99 Chevy Venture finally died by way of transmission failure, and good riddance we said. My husband agreed to take over my 2000 Accord coupe, and I was to get the “new” car. Having always been a fan of coupes and Hondas in general, but short on funds, I test drove countless cars trying to find one that didn’t smell like stank gym socks (a Prelude), that didn’t get bought out from underneath me that day (an RSX), have a stick (I hadn’t yet learned to drive one, and that was an RSX Type-S), or was out of my price range (an ’06 Civic coupe, which was then only 2 years old but had a massive dent in the hood). Eventually, between a rock and a hard place, it became clear that the only car on the lot that day available to me was a silver ’03, base model 6. (Side note – I wish I knew then what I know now about being a savvy car shopper, but we all make our mistakes right?)
Anyway, I hated the thought of having to drive a boring, four-door sedan. I got behind the wheel not expecting much when I punched it. Wrong. It happily came to life with the most enjoyable “grunt” one could expect out of a little four-pot. I felt connected to the road as I took it around corners in a way I never did with the Accord. It wasn’t a sporty little two-door, but the fun I had on the test drive took a bit of the sting out of the purchase concessions.
Over the years, I came to terms with the 6 and grew to appreciate its Euro-inspired design. Having no previous experience with Mazdas, the 6 provided a nice gateway into the brand and their truly driver-centric outlook. Those four doors still don’t look particularly sleek, and I continue to feel that a spoiler or brighter color would do wonders for its looks but at this point in my life it’s function over form. The cavernous trunk helped us move boxes that would never have fit in a coupe and after folding down the rear seats it became even more useful. The interior bears the battle wounds of shuttling a young kid and an active family, and the exterior has unfortunately been the victim of a few parking lot incidents where, of course, the perp decided not to leave a note after leaving their paint on mine.
It’s not luxurious by any stretch. There were never any floor mats when I bought it; the cloth seats need a good shampoo; the brakes squeal at every application no matter how many times I take it in for service; the upholstery (gray), blends into the exterior (silver), and with the sea of black, matte, hard plastic on the dash, it paints a rather dreary picture upon entry. It was the car I needed at the time, and the one that has served its purpose admirably overall. Somehow, this rather unassuming vehicle has endeared itself to me with its combination of utility, dependability, and a fun-to-drive factor.
It’s true that I haven’t been the biggest fan of the 6’s redesign, mainly due to the increase in size and lackluster gas mileage. Regardless, I never wanted to see it go away. I doubt my next car will be a Mazda because their current offerings aren’t quite what I need right now. As a Mazda fan though, I have high hopes for the next iteration, especially if it bears any resemblance to the concept. If the company can put the 6 on a diet, improve mileage with their new SkyActiv powerplants, and market it a bit more aggressively than they did the current generation, I think they could have a hit. I wouldn’t say no to a Mazdaspeed6 successor either because after all, the Hyundai and Kia turbos need some competition, right?