Mazda 6 (2002-)

DEADWALKING

Mid-sizer still carving up Chinese curves

SOME cars just won't die. Mazda's post-Millennial renaissance machine, the 6/Atenza mid-sizer launched in 2002 came at a time when the then Ford-controlled Hiroshima brand’s cars were more zim-zim-zimmer-frame than zoom-zoom.

For rapid insomnia relief, think final Mazda 626… That first 6, however, was like the lovechild of an Alfa 156 and BMW 3 Series, infusing the former’s style with the latter’s dynamics. Only ever-present road drone kept it from 2002 COTY glory.

Ah, some things never change, like the fact you can still buy the original 6 in China.

Yep, a splintered class structure means that Mazda needs to straddle all price points, from a cheap entry sedan based on the 2002 GG model, through to its 2008 GH and 2012 GJ successors.

The compact original was a success in Australia, but failed to find an audience in an important US market accustomed to bloated Camrys and Altimas, prompting Mazda to upsize with the following models.

So, to this very day, the 13-year-old GG original remains the most driver-focused 6 of the series, and the prettiest.

We envy the Chinese.

13 YEARS

AGE IN HUMAN YEARS

92*

AFTERLIFE

Now a stylish and dynamic entry-level mid-sizer for the keener Chinese driver

HIGHLIGHTS

Banished Mazda’s beige period with looks, charm and alacrity

LOWLIGHTS

“What was that? I can’t hear a thing from the back seat!”

*Human/car life-expectancy ratio: 7.1:1 (ABS data: human 71 years versus car 10 years)