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article details
Author Jeff Palmer
Categories Competing Makes, TOV Road Test
Create Date March 26, 2003 11:50
Last Update May 01, 2004 17:52
Mazda 6 - The Apex of Mazda's Turnaround?
After opening the '90's with a solid portfolio of fresh, stylish, and innovative products (RX-7, Miata, 626/MX-6), Mazda closed out the millenium with somewhat of a whimper. With the exception of the Millenia and the venerable Miata, the lineup remained competent, yet decidedly dull. Fortunately for the automotive enthusiast, this shortlived lull seems to be well on its way through a full recovery, once again led by fresh new product.

Mazdas have historically been associated with fun-to-drive value and practicality. It's unknown why there appears to have been a hiccup in this strategy, though one might direct the blame in the general direction of Ford Motor Company. By upping their investment in Mazda to 33.4% in 1996, Ford took a controlling stake in the company, by Japanese law. It's hard to say whether this was a truly disruptive event, but it could be a convenient excuse. Whatever the case, Mazda's management must have recognized the precarious position of their brand, and they seem to have concluded that they should focus on doing what they do best. The 1999 Protege' was the first step in this direction, but I wouldn't go so far as to call it a revolutionary product for Mazda. It clearly served as a refocusing point. I believe that if we are in fact witnessing the "rebirth" of Mazda, the 6 represents the true essence of the "new" Mazda. This car sets the pace for Mazda in terms of driving dynamics, value, and perhaps most importantly, identity. It will soon be followed by the RX-8, the all-new Miata, and eventually the RX-7, all of which will likely share many styling cues with the handsome 6.

Some people may disagree with my position, reasoning that the Protege' also represents the "new" Mazda. To an extent, I don't dispute that sentiment. My opinion is not intended to discredit the Protege', but the 6 represents such a radical and complete departure from the model it supplants (the 626), I have to consider the 6 to be the apex of Mazda's abrupt turnabout. Furthering my (admittedly lame) metaphor, I would say the Protege' represents the initial turn-in. The next generation Protege' shouldn't be too far down the road, and I expect it to fully feature the new "DNA" as well.

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Subject Thread Originator Replies Last Post
  EXCELLENT Review
KenB 6
  Hatchback for the US?
Hgood1 2
  new RX-7 ?
ebno 10
  More performance tests!!!
StretchSJE 5
  This is a nice idea
NSXman 3
  an excellent unbiased review
Tom Atkian 0
  I Test drove a V6 MT
MASTERNC 4
  Detailed and professional
ns 3
  Thanks for the review
Jeff MGB 0
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