Having owned (and still owning) the ever superb Ford Mondeo 2006 (review: http://www.carsurvey.org/review_91832.html), and having tested several cars including the most popular vehicles from Toyota, Honda, Chevrolet, Ford etc., it was sort of a tough time for me choosing between mid-sizers available from so many different brands. No, I am not a test driver by profession, but just test cars out of passion.
My Ford Mondeo which is two and half years old and has 90,000kms on the clock, still runs great without costing me much for the maintenance. But then, I felt it was time for a change. No, I wouldn't sell my Ford ever, but I needed a new one anyway.
After days of research and test drives, the mid-sizers I shortlisted were the all-new Ford Mondeo, Mitsubishi Galant, Honda Accord and Nissan Altima.
The ever popular Toyota Camry, especially popular on this side of the world, was never considered by me, due to the fact that I would be paying 85 grand for getting only a huge plastic tub covered by a weak metal sheet from outside!! The engine power was also a let down.
And the new Mazda 6 was never on my list too, since I was not at all impressed by a 2 litre Mazda that I had tested once upon a time.
After so much of brainstorming, I decided on the Honda Accord as "THE ONE". Out of all the cars that I shortlisted, the Ford Mondeo was the obvious winner in all terms; be it comfort, pricing, space, performance, looks or anything; the only let down is a weak resale, which I never cared about anyway. But, I wanted to try owning something different, the only reason for me to switch to the "dull" Honda Accord. But who knew things would change that very evening when my friend, a proud owner of the all new Mazda 6, came to visit me and I happened to drive his car.
My friend owns a 2009 Mazda with a 2.0L four-pot under the hood. I was out of words after driving the car. How can any car manufacturer improve a model SO much that, something which was just an "OK" sort of car at one point of time, just managed to leave me all stunned!!
The old Mazda 6 that I tested also came with a 2.0L engine; but I felt more like in a 1.3L budget car, for the way it performed was awful. Except for its unimaginable levels of cornering limits, there was nothing that really impressed me.
But the 2009 Mazda 6 is different. The cornering levels are still too high; but the car now felt far more comfortable and enjoyable to drive, while being frugal when it comes to petrol consumption. In the very same car, I drove to the nearest Mazda dealer; and the next thing I know is that I booked a 2.5L top of the range Mazda 6 for myself.
I got my car just a couple of weeks back, and has done exactly 2253 kms in it. If a 2.0L Mazda could stun me, then what a full option 2.5L could do need not be explained.
As said, my car comes complete with full leather interior, sunroof, 5-speed auto transmission with manual shift and paddle shifters, cruise control, backlit steering controls for cruise, audio and A/C, an 8-speaker Bose audio system with sub-woofer and AUX input, auto A/C with dual zone climate control, 18" sport alloys with low-profile Dunlop SP2050 rubbers on, sports suspension (hard), auto-dimming rear-view mirror, power windows with jam-safe protection, power and electric folding mirrors, electric seats (front driver & passenger) with memory function (for driver's seat), keyless entry and keyless start featuring an advanced key and a push-start button, speed-sensitive power-assisted power steering, trip computer, outside-temperature gauge, all wheel disc brakes, ABS with EBD and brake-assist, dynamic stability control, front, side & curtain airbags, Xenon headlamps, front fog lamps, LED tail lamps and the cherry on top of the cake - a 2.5L 4-cylinder engine with VVT.
The first thing you would notice about the car is its striking looks! The aggressive fender lines, flaring headlamps, 18" inch sports alloys, all make manufacturers such as Honda and Toyota and even some upscale brands such as the Audi and VW, go back to the design school.
And the Mazda 6 is really an impressive premium sports sedan. I have not tested the performance yet, since it is a new ride.
Comfort is excellent; with convenience features such as a very powerful A/C and a near-superb Bose sound system doing their very best. The seats are great too. In fact, out of all cars, the 6 and Mondeo are the only ones that have the best and most comfortable seats. Those seats alone are one of the reasons to buy the 6. All that coupled to plush leather upholstery makes you feel that you are sitting in a Mercedes Benz E-Class.
While on the move, the comfort reduces a bit though, thanks to its sport suspension, which makes you feel every bump and every butt of a cigarette on the road. But the other side of it is the outstanding handling that will put many of the German marques, forget the Japanese, to shame!
Rear legroom is adequate enough to seat 3 adults, each 6-feet, comfortable enough. In comparison, the 6 has a smaller rear passenger legroom against that of the Accord, Camry and Mondeo. The Mondeo and Accord are the biggest cars of all, and have the best rear passenger legroom.
The dual-zone auto air conditioner of the 6 is so powerful that, with an outside temperature of a soaring 46 degrees combined with absolutely tint-less glasses, leather interiors and being in a standstill traffic, the car managed to cool down the interiors in about 4 to 5 minutes!! Sadly, there are no rear A/C vents, unlike in the Mondeo, Accord or Camry; but the funny part is, the rear passengers have the option to get their feet cooled with cooling vents placed below the front seats; I really don't get the point there. Overall, the interior is soothing and very comfortable.
I've not tested the performance yet, the vehicle being new. But as far as I've driven it, I feel the gear ratios are not up to the mark. Acceleration feels good for a 2.5L. But once in higher gears, and at speeds above 100 kph, the Accord does the job better. For instance, if you try accelerating the Mazda 6 from 100 to let's say 140 kph, the acceleration in the top gear is very good, but slower than the Accords. And after a certain point, in Drive mode, the car automatically downshifts with the RPM needle shooting to 4 - 4.5K range. However, if left in Manual mode, the car does a better job in the same situation. Probably the difference I feel is due to the fact that I never floored the throttle in the 6; so in a manner, the comparison above is not fair. Anyway, performance review will be done later on, and I would add it on as a comment to this review. As of now, in summary, it is very good, considering the extent I've taken it to.
Now comes fuel economy. It would be surprising for all of you to know that, myself being so much into automobiles and gadgets, I still have not used my own car's trip computer. Anyway, for running 2253 kms, I've taken my car to the gas station only four times so far; and the average calculation is about 564 kms per fuel tank. And a full tank from the "reserve" levels would cost between 75 AED and 78 AED. I remember my car running as much as 605 kms from one tank due to very less traffic, and recently, as low as 450 kms due to extremely heavy traffic situations. More about it, in the following performance review.
The dealers seemed OK to me. For the first service, in-spite of being told that I need to take a booking, I did not and just walked in. But instead of letting me down, they took my car in and requested me to take a booking next time when I need to service the car.
The car I bought is priced at AED 95,800/-.. For a Mazda, the price is considered high by some; especially considering a lower resale value than the Toyotas and Hondas. But considering the feature list, I personally feel that the car is worth the amount you are paying for it.
For the same price, the Accord only has half the option list of Mazda or maybe less than that, to offer you. Apart from a strong resale value, and a Japanese reliability, which the Toyota promises of the Australian-built Camry, there is nothing more a Camry offers.
The Altima is close to the 6 when it comes to the options list; and the Altima has a slightly more powerful engine than the 6 (does not make a difference, because the 6 is lighter); but the Altima's handling and feel is inferior compared to the 6. Moreover, the Altima does not come with goodies like leather interior, low profile tires & sports alloys, stability control etc.
The Mondeo is a strong contender for the 6; but again, the stigma of higher maintenance costs and less reliability (and that is a big lie; being a Mondeo owner for over 2 years and 90K kms of harsh treatment on the clock, I know) lets it down.. Actually speaking, the Mondeo has the same and many more options than the full-option 6, but for a slightly higher price tag of AED 96,000/-. Even the mid-trim offerings of the Mondeo are way better than a mid-range 6.
Engine and size are the only real differences between the Mondeo and the 6. The Mondeo has a 2.3L engine while the 6 sports a 2.5L VVT motor; moreover, the Mondeo is much heavier than the 6; and that makes the Mondeo run a tad slower than the 6 (that said, the Mondeo is still faster than the Galant and Camry). But then, the Mondeo is way too bigger than the 6 in size, and offers a more comfortable ride.
On a side-by-side comparison, the only way to choose from Mondeo and 6 is personal preference of each individual. The 6 will probably attract the younger crowd more, while the Mondeo is an all-rounder!