Mazda 6 MPS: Spotted

When you hear the terms 'four-wheel drive' and 'Japanese saloon', you wouldn't be wrong for thinking of Subaru Imprezas and Mitsubishi Lancer Evolutions; both very successful proponents of the 'win on Sunday, sell on Monday' ethos. But cars that are ostentatious to look at can give off a bad impression. Think of the new Honda Civic Type R, where people are apparently offended before you've arrived. So what if you still wanted to buy a four-wheel drive, turbocharged Japanese saloon, but needed something deemed a little more acceptable to the outside world?

The MazdaSpeed Atenza - derived from the word attenzione in Italian, and the car to become the 6 MPS - was not a car that people gave much attention. The MPS's styling was quite introverted when compared to other Japanese saloons, with only the larger twin exhausts and bonnet hump giving the slightest inclination that it could be something other than mundane. Peter Birtwhistle, head of Mazda's European design studio, was keen to reject the marking of a traditional turbocharged Japanese saloon for something more subtle and sophisticated.

Originally shown to the public in 2002, it wasn't until 2005 the MPS saw the light of day - the 2.3-litre turbocharged four-cylinder got 272hp and 280lb ft or, if you resided in Europe, a lesser 260hp. With an all-wheel drive system that included an 'Active Torque Split' differential, up to 50 per cent of the power could reach the rear wheels according to road speed, steering angle, lateral g, yaw rate and engine speed. The upgrades to the MPS didn't stop there; new chassis sections were added behind the rear seats and dash to add a 50 per cent increase in torsional rigidity whilst the suspension mountings were reinforced.

The engine shared its block with the standard 6 but using direct injection, a first for Mazda at the time and now readily used in all its Skyactiv-G engines, as well as a turbo to bump the power to 260hp. Dynamically the MPS was sharp too, with proper rally-style oversteer on offer if you were brave enough to push beyond the initial understeer. Well, so we've heard... Inside, much like the standard 6, the ideal driving position can be found quite easily thanks to some well-set pedals and plenty of adjustment from the steering. The only way you will know you are in an MPS from the interior are some better quality dials, a leather steering wheel and blueish metallic finish on highlight panels.

This isn't a car you would directly compare to a Subaru or an Evo, a testament to Birtwhistle's subtle design ethos and the slightly less hardcore MPS remit. Instead it took on some of the lesser powered premium saloons - your A4s, 3 Series and suchlike - as well as mainstream performance models like the Vectra VXR and Mondeo ST220; while the Vauxhall is available in the classifieds, the only Mondeo STs currently available are the diesel models, such was the V6's rarity.

Speaking of which, HowManyLeft says just 642 MPS 6s are left on British roads, making it truly scarce in 2018. Combine that with its considerable ability and the 6 MPS looks more tempting than ever.


Engine: 2,261cc, 4-cylinder turbocharged
Transmission: 6-speed manual, all-wheel drive
Power (hp): 260@5,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 280@3,000rpm
CO2: N/A
First registered: 2006
Recorded mileage: 73,000
Price new: £23,950
Price now: £4,495

See the original advert here.

[Source: HowManyLeft]



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Comments (61) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Honeywell 31 Jan 2018

    Wow, I was totally unaware of these. As a third car hooligan fun machine that can also do the school run I quite fancy me of these as a toy. I wonder how they respond to a remap?

  • dublet 31 Jan 2018

    Like it! cool It was on my list when I changed cars but it was a bit too common for my liking. jester So I went with a Subaru Legacy 3.0R spec.B. driving Only 87 on the road. biggrin

  • Yipper 31 Jan 2018

    Good car and a good buy. Imagine that will get snapped up quick, now it's been posted on here.

  • James Junior 31 Jan 2018

    Test drove one of these many moons ago and was a bit disappointed with the performance. Think brisk rather than fast.

    I also seem to remember remapping options being limited at the time, though sure this will have changed by now given advances in tech.

  • TheAngryDog 31 Jan 2018

    Watch out for rust underneath, VVT and putting a leg out of bed..

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