As enthusiasts, it can be disheartening watching the cars we adore soar in value. Just as we’ve got the money together, so they’ve climbed again. Perhaps no segment has enjoyed more appreciation of late as the rally rep: if it’s fast, four-door and four-wheel drive, it can seem like the sky’s the limit at the moment. Imprezas and Evos were never super cheap cars anyway, but they always seemed accessible - even the special examples. Those days seem a distant memory now, with Tommi Maks and 22Bs now bonafide exotica. Things have moved so far that the Celica GT-Four is becoming sought after.
All is not lost, however. Because if you want a Japanese fast car based on a very ordinary saloon, with a potent four-cylinder turbo engine, four driven wheels and a great manual gearbox, then there is an alternative - the Mazda 6 MPS. Now, of course, it doesn’t have the motorsport kudos or icon status of the Mitsubishi or Subaru - it’s pretty anonymous to all but the most clued up - though it’s hard to argue with the value on offer. Even if, like the very best Impreza or Lancer, it’ll cost quite a lot to run.
The MPS was always a niche choice, even back in the day when the performance saloon below an M3 was still a thing. In the UK we liked our 260hp, £25k cars with a hatch - the 3 MPS was always more popular - just as we liked our Mazdas as MX-5s and we liked our fast four-doors with German badges on them. All of which conspired against the success of the 6, especially as in 2006 you could still buy an actual Impreza or Evo saloon. Without the rally link to lure buyers away, the MPS didn’t seem to have much going for it.
But the hot 6 was well received in period, the effort Mazda has expended - with upgrades like a stiffer body, firmer suspension, a limited-slip rear diff in the four-wheel drive - paying off with a capable, engaging sports saloon. It wasn’t as wild as the rally cars, but it was more interesting than a £24k 3 Series would have been at the time - and most definitely better than a Vectra VXR. Between the Mazda and the Ford Mondeo ST220, buyers had a couple of great fast family cars to choose from, the appeal of the 6’s four-wheel drive not to be underestimated. Obviously, they tended to opt for Audis and Mercs instead, which is why both are now so rare, but a few were willing to take the plunge. Even a decade and a half later, they both have their appeal.
This 6 still has fewer than 70,000 miles on it, with 13 main dealer service stamps in the book. The MPS always felt like the kind of car for a dedicated, knowledgeable sort of buyer - nobody buys a 6 MPS by accident - so it’s good to see all three owners of this one seem to have cherished it. Of its 13 MOTs, 11 have been first-time, clean passes, and the current ticket runs until the end of the year (2022’s was one of the advisory free tests, of course). The advert doesn’t feature any interior pics for the moment, though the outside is very encouraging, wheels and body about as good as could be expected from a £5k, 2007 car.
Alright, £5,990 to be exact - but still. When any performance car of note has soared in value over the past couple of years, that something as interesting, rare and generally decent as the MPS can be yours - in good condition, moreover - for this money looks pretty tempting. It’ll use a lot of fuel and emit a lot of CO2, yes, but it would surely be easier to justify expenditure on something this nice rather than a year’s VED being a third of the car’s value. When even the hatchback Imprezas are more money than this, maybe now is the time for the forgotten Mazda Performance Series.
SPECIFICATION | MAZDA 6 MPS
Engine: 2,261cc 4-cyl, turbocharged
Transmission: 6-speed manual, four-wheel drive
Power (hp): 260@5,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 280@3,000rpm
MPG: 27.7 (NEDC combined)
First registered: 2007
Recorded mileage: 68,000
Price new: £23,950
Yours for: £5,990
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