When the 1993 MX-6 debuted, it made our hearts sing. Here, finally, was a Mazda 2+2 that combined all the fun of its predecessors while banishing the remaining 80's-era funk that afflicted Japanese cars. Out went the plasticky interior and stubby slab-sidedness of the '88-'92 model. Style and performance for moderate money was always the game of the MX-6, and the '93 model stepped it up a lot. Underhood was a rare (for the time) V6 connected to a manual transaxle. The exterior was a timeless Berlinetta with a tightly-wrapped form and delicate flowing lines. It looked less Mazda and more Ferrari 456.
More nostalgia after the jump
The MX-6 also provided the underpinnings for the excellent second-generation Ford Probe. While the Probe was good-looking in its own right, and the best sports car in Ford stores at the time, the MX-6 was a more balanced overall package. The exterior exuded elegant grace; Mazda's stylists managed to come up with a fresh look that wasn't as "drag races, ten cents" as the Probe. Echoes of the MX-6's taut form are visible even today, in the shape of the Mazda 6.
The MX-6 LS was the top-dog, stickering around $20,000 and offering a spanking-new DOHC V6 and available with a stickshift. The 164 horsepower of the V6 may not sound impressive 15 years on, but the competition was humping four-cylinder wares at the time. Sure, some of them were sporting forced-induction and putting down more power, but the raspy blat of a four cylinder is no match for the snarly aplomb a V6 can muster. Weighing in at 2700 pounds, sprints to 60 were in the mid-seven-second range. On paper, perhaps, the MX-6 may not seem to add up, but it's a wonderful package to live with in the everyday world. Punchy midrange and a relaxed demeanor differentiate the MX-6 from its rowdy contemporaries. The MX-6 LS came pretty fully optioned, so it's not like driving one will make you feel like an orderly at a sports car nursing home; they've got most of the stuff that cars today have.
Mazda knows chassis, and the MX-6 benefitted from cribbing the twin trapezoidal links from the RX-7's backside. The chassis stretch allowed the light and compact V6 to be placed further back to minimize understeer and keep turn-in sharp. The tricks worked, the MX-6 did not hopelessly push its way off the road when you wanted to get frisky. Contrary to what you might think, the moderate (yet more than adequate) power level allowed hustle without fighting from the helm or boiling the inside tire trying to power out of corners.
The second-generation MX-6 is a strange case. The fact that it's been out of production for a full ten years snuck up on us, and we miss seeing it. We're not sure where they all went, but they tended to be more adult-owned than their Probe cousins. That bodes well for finding an MX-6 that hasn't been abused, or had some god-awful body kit foisted upon it. The moderate when-new price ensures a bargain now for a car that still looks delicious, can deliver performance to back up its looks, yet doesn't beat your [email protected]@ or your wallet.
by Dan Roth