Mazda is throwing down a challenge to high-performance 4WD cars like the Subaru Legacy GT with the Mazda 6 MPS, the most powerful sedan it has ever sold in New Zealand.
The MPS delivers stunning performance, and the all-wheel drive chassis has the chops to make the most of it.
The Legacy GT woudl seem the obvious competitor, but we see the MPS appealing to a slightly different buyer - maybe a little older, more conservative, someone who wants a sweet-handling, high-performance car but one which is less ostentatious.
The turbocharged, all-wheel drive four-door MPS is based on the Mazda 6 and is the result of a two-year development programme. Mazda is selling the 6 MPS for $59,950.
Performance comes from a Direct Injection Spark Ignition (DISI) turbocharged 2.3-litre inline four-cylinder engine developing maximum power of 190kW at 5500rpm, and a hefty 380Nm of peak torque at 3000rpm. It drives through a new six-speed manual gearbox. The all-wheel drive system has Active Torque Split (ATS).
The sleek lines of the standard Mazda 6 are given more muscle with an aerodynamic front bumper and lower grille. Flared side skirts and unique 18-inch alloy wheels fitted with low profile tyres reinforce the performance car message. The rear aero bumper has a built-in diffusser and a compact rear lip spoiler.
The interior is leather trimmed. The black leather front seats are power adjustable and have and three memory positions. The gearlever knob is leather-wrapped, and the pedals and inner door handles are alloy. The sound system is a 200 watt Bose with seven speakers, including a sub-woofer.Audio controls are steering-wheel mounted and illuminated for night driving.
Standard equipment includes cruise-control, climate-control air-conditioning, remote central doorlocking, electric side mirrors and power windows. Active safety equipment includes Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) and Dynamic Stability Control (DSC).
Individual body assemblies have been re-engineered to deliver a bodyshell whose torsional rigidity is about 50 per cent greater than the standard Mazda 6s. The Triple-H construction bodyshell has front and rear crumple zones and the doors' outer panels have been further reinforced and a new door pad has been added to protect occupants from side impacts.
There are six SRS airbags (dual front, front side and head protecting curtain airbags). In a frontal crash, the brake pedal collapses away from the driver, reducing the risk of leg injury.
The Mazda6 MPS is also equipped with a double lock door deadlock system, which is activated by the remote central locking transmitter housed inside the key. The transmitter also arms and disarms the engine immobiliser.
DISI engine technology
The 190kW/380Nm, turbocharged, 2.3-litre engine delivers 90 per cent of its torque is delivered at a little over 2000rpm, to deliver response that resembles that of a large capacity naturally aspirated engine, while also achieving lower, Euro Stage IV exhaust emissions and good fuel economy.
The DISI turbocharged technology delivers increased low to mid-range torque. The internal cooling effect when fuel is injected directly into the combustion chamber at pressures as high as 11.5 mPa vaporises inside the chamber, improving the loading efficiency of the fuel mixture. This increases torque by up to 10 per cent at around 3000rpm.
The internal cooling effect within the combustion chamber increases load volume under initial acceleration, ensuring a linear increase of rotation speed of the turbocharger's compressor blades. As a result, the turbocharger's blower starts adding substantial boost soon after the accelerator is pressed, at roughly 2500rpm.
The direct injection system makes effective boost possible from low through high speeds using a single-scroll turbocharger, which is light in weight and simple in construction. The thermal capacity of the exhaust system is thereby greatly reduced, minimising the decrease in temperature of exhaust gases to help comply with strict emission regulations.
Injecting an atomised spray of fuel directly into the combustion chamber also causes a remarkably fine fuel mixture to form around the sparkplug, which prevents misfiring. It allows the ignition timing to be delayed making it easy to maintain high and stable exhaust gas temperatures. The higher temperature means the catalytic converter heats up more quickly after engine start-up. That also benefits exhaust emissions.
The internal cooling effect within the combustion chamber improves anti-knock characteristics and increases the engine's fuel economy without losing low-end torque, even running at a relatively high compression ratio. The MZR 2.3 DISI Turbo engine can adopt the relatively high compression ratio for a turbo engine of 9.5:1 to help improve fuel economy.
The Mazda6 MPS's DISI engine drives the all-wheel drive system through a new, six-speed manual gearbox that offers short, crisp gearshifts. Sixth is an overdrive for relaxed cruising and good fuel economy. Official Australian government figures showed the MPS comsuming 95 opctane petrol at a rate of 10.5 litres per 100 kilometres. In very brisk driving on winding country roads during the car's media launch we achieved 13 litres/100km.
The Active Torque Split, all-wheel drive system delivers more aggressive transfer of torque to the rear axle in accordance with driving conditions. The active torque coupling mounted in front of the limited slip rear differential is electronically controlled, quickly adjusting front/rear wheel torque distribution between 100:0 and 50:50 to deliver optimum drive power to each wheel.
The onboard computer automatically determines driving and road conditions. Three different modes of front/rear torque distribution are automatically selected by the system: Normal, Sports and Snow (for slippery surfaces).
When a quick start is needed the system automatically selects Power Take Off (PTO) mode, aggressively distributing torque to the rear axle to ensure fuss-free, rapid acceleration.
The safety story
In developing the MPS, Mazda engineers strengthened the Mazda 6 body, to achieve 50 per cent more torsional stiffness, helping improve grip and deliver sharper, more responsive steering.
The double wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension systems have retuned dampers and springs (spring rates have increased by 25 per cent at the front and 37 per cent at the rear) and thicker stabiliser bars.
The bigger brakes (up 21mm to 320mm at the front and up 34mm to 314mm at the rear) combine with the Active Torque Split all-wheel drive system and the standard DSC anti-skid control to deliver a comprhensive active safety package.
Passive sefety equipment includes dual front and side driver and passenger airbags, and side curtain airbags. The front seatbelts have pretensioners, load-limiters and height adjustable shoulder anchorages. The front seats have been designed to minimise whiplash injuries in crashes.
What you get
Alloy wheels. Body kit including front aero bumper, rear aero bumper, side skirts, rear lip spoiler.
Body coloured power mirrors. Power windows. Body coloured lower door mouldings. Body coloured front and rear bumpers. Roof rail mounting points. Trip computer (current and average fuel consumption, distance to empty and average vehicle speed).
Xenon (low beam) headlights with auto-levelling and washer function. Front foglights.
Climate control air-conditioning with pollen filter. Cruise control. Bose 200 watt audio system with AM/FM digital tuner. In-dash six-disc Compact Disc player with sevebn speakers. Steering wheel with audio and cruise control switches.
Leather seat trim (and durable Maztex material on selected high impact surfaces). Leather-wrapped steering wheel, gearshift knob and handbrake handle. Front seats have rake and slide adjustment, six-way power adjustment on the driver's seat with three-position memory function.
Mazda New Zealand says it expects to sell 12 to 15 MPSs a month, but believes initial demand is likely to be much stronger. It says the sales will add cream to the 180 non-turbo Mazda 6s it expects to sell each month.
Mazda 6 MPS specifications
Engine 2261cc Direct Injection Spark Ignition (DISI) turbocharged inline four-cylinder. 16 valves. Double Overhead Camshafts. Maximum power, 190kW at 5500rpm. Peak torque, 380Nm at 3000rpm. Electronic (drive-by-wire) throttle.
Transmission Four-wheel drive. Active Torque Split (ATS) All-Wheel-Drive system automatically adjusts front/rear wheel torque distribution between 100:0 and 50:50. Six-speed manual gearbox.
Suspension Front, independent double wishbone with coil springs and cylindrical double acting shock absorbers. Rear, independent E-type multi-link with low profile springs and cylindrical double acting shock absorbers.
Wheels 18-inch by 7.0J alloy.
Tyres 215/45 R18 89W.
Brakes Front, ventilated disc. Rear, solid disc.
Performance Fuel consumption (combined cycle). ADR 81/01 test results, 10.5 litres/100km. Turning circle, 11.2 metres.
Dimensions Length, 4760mm. Width, 1780mm. Height, 1430mm. Wheelbase, 2675mm. Ground clearance, 124mm. Front track, 1540mm. Rear track, 1540mm. Kerb weight, 1639kg. Boot capacity, 455 litres. Fuel tank capacity, 60 litres.