Mazda's fastest-ever saloon
25 January 2006

The Mazda6 MPS is the latest and highest addition to their MPS range. With 256bhp and 280 lbft it should be fast - Mazda bills it as the the fastest, best handling and best braked saloon they have made, claiming a 150mph top speed and 0-100kmh in 6.6 seconds.

The 6 MPS will be a car with few options apart from the four paint colours. Standard equipment is comprehensive with a full range of airbags, leather interior and high-end stereo system. A six-speed gearbox has been developed for the car and the driver's seat is a powered, heated bucket-style one.

The level of entertainment on offer from that seat remains to be seen, but Mazda's recent history bodes rather well, as does the specification. The suspension is double wishbone at the front with multi-link to the rear, the steering rack has 2.6 turns lock to lock and the brakes are ventilated and solid discs front and rear.

The bodyshell is 50% stiffer than the standard 6's and the powertrain features a rear limited slip diff and a torque split system that uses real-time information to deliver up to 50% of torque to the rear wheels under acceleration, or to split the torque 50:50 front to rear in slippery conditions.

Mazda's claim of 27.7mpg combined will set it squarely amongst the competition: the Vectra VXR and Mondeo ST220 also return 27mpg. But both lose the power race to the Mazda; the Vectra being 0.3 seconds slower to 60mph and the Mondeo being a further 0.6 seconds behind.

The claim for the MPS is that it can be sensible and fun. With this much power, sixth gear set to cruise economically, maximum torque developed at a low 3,000rpm and with Mazda's reputation for fine handling, it stands a chance of being both good to drive and to run.

Our Verdict

The BMW Z4 has more comfort and added practicality, but has it gone soft?

The BMW Z4 is a fine-looking two-seat roadster with indifferent driving dynamics

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