Mazda never had the guts to build a successor.
At first look, the first-generation Mazda6 may not appear to be all that special. It was a decent enough sporty sedan that lured in buyers seeking something a bit more exciting than a Toyota Camry. But there was another element of the first-gen Mazda6 program that has never been repeated and probably never will be.
The Mazdaspeed6, known as the Mazda6 MPS in Europe, is the high-performance version sold for only two model years beginning in 2006. It was a cool car then and remains so today. Power came from a turbocharged 2.3-liter inline-four with fuel injection. Total output came to a respectable 274 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque. The base Mazda6 at the time could be had with either a non-turbo 2.3-liter with 160 hp and 155 lb-ft or a naturally aspirated 3.0-liter Duratec V6 with a healthier 220 hp and 192 lb-ft.
Clearly, the Mazdaspeed6 was the one to get, a case made all the more valid because it came equipped with a six-speed manual and standard all-wheel drive.
This AWD system incorporates the Japanese automaker's Active Torque Split function that directs between 100 percent of the power to the front wheels and 50 percent to the rear depending on driving conditions. Two trim levels were offered, Sport and Grand Touring. The former came with cloth seats while the Grand Touring tacked on leather upholstery and DVD navigation. Standard features on both include a 200-watt Bose sound system with seven speakers and a nine-inch subwoofer, an in-dash six-disc CD changer, and automatic climate control. Only the Grand Touring had the optional moonroof.
Another interesting thing about the Mazdaspeed6 is that it was built at the Flat Rock, Michigan assembly plant near Detroit, currently home to the Ford Mustang. Back then, the Mazda6 rode on the same platform as the first-generation Ford Fusion, though they had different chassis codes.
When the second-gen Mazda6 arrived, a "Speed" version was sadly not included. It's the same situation for today's Mazda6. Chances are the Mazdaspeed6 will forever remain in the past largely due to decreased sedan demand. However, there are rumors the next-generation Mazda6, due in 2022, will adopt a longitudinal-engine platform with rear-wheel-drive and an inline-six engine, a move that would certainly thrust the sedan more upmarket.
That engine, possibly the SkyActiv-X featuring compression-ignition technology, could be bolted to a 48-volt hybrid system for a combined output of around 350 hp. Fingers crossed. One thing it's not expected to have, unfortunately, is a manual transmission. You can't win them all. There are still plenty of used Mazdaspeed6 examples out there but we doubt you'll find many with only 39,830 miles on its clock.
This fully-loaded 2007 Mazdaspeed6 Grand Touring is currently up for sale at Evolution Motors in Dallas, Texas. With its black exterior and interior, it still appears to be in amazing condition. It's only had one previous owner. The asking price is also darn reasonable at $13,999. Could this be a future classic? Perhaps, but that's not really the point. It's simply a cool sedan built for enthusiasts on a budget.