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First look: Mazda6 MPS wows Paris

Sports at a price: The Mazda6 MPS will cost around $55,000 when it arrives here in mid-2005.

Mazda unveils its highest performing sedan ever: the turbocharged MPS

28 Sep 2004

MAZDA has lifted the lid on its most powerful sedan ever.

Revealed for the first time in full production trim in Paris last week, the Mazda6 MPS – as it will be badged when it goes on sale Down Under in mid-2005 – packs a 191kW/380Nm turbo engine, six-speed manual transmission and all-wheel drive.

Differing only slightly from the Mazda6 MPS concept revealed at the last Paris motor show, in 2002, the production version also features a stronger body, revised suspension, 18-inch alloy wheels and more aggressive styling than the garden variety Mazda6.

As the new Mazda6 flagship, the sedan-only MPS will be priced around $55,000 – representing a $15,000 price increase over the premium Mazda6 sedan but making Mazda’s hottest sedan lineball with Subaru’s Liberty GT.

At the heart of the MPS lies a direct-injection, single-turbo 2.3-litre engine labelled MZR 2.3 DISI TURBO.

Apart from producing 191kW at 5500rpm and a big 380Nm of torque at just 3000rpm, its combination of direct petrol injection with turbocharging and intercooling brings a number of other key advantages.

Primarily because of the direct injection engine’s internal cooling effect and an ability to maintain a relatively high 9.5:1 compression ratio, Mazda says these include: * strong torque delivery across a wide engine speed range
* good response from low engine speeds
* reduced turbo lag
* minimal increases in fuel consumption and exhaust emissions The result is “substantial” turbo boost from 2500rpm, 10 per cent more torque at 3000rpm, 0-100km/h acceleration in a respectable 6.6 seconds and a convincing 240km/h top speed thanks to a new six-speed Aisin-supplied manual transmission (similar to VZ Commodore SV6’s).

Putting power to the ground is a Mazda-developed torque sensing-electronic system called Active Torque Split All-Wheel Drive.

Normally driving only the front wheels but able to transmit up to 50 per cent of torque rearward when required, it’s a more aggressively tuned version of the Mazda6 AWD system available in some overseas markets.

Using input data including steering angle, yaw rate, lateral G force and engine status, the system chooses between three operating functions - normal, sports or snow – when activating its solenoid-controlled power take-off drive, while a reinforced limited-slip rear differential is fitted.

Mazda product chief Joe Bakai was quick to intervene when it was suggested the maximum 50/50 torque split could not allow the MPS to be power-oversteered like Mitsubishi’s Lancer Evo and Subaru’s latest Impreza STi, claiming the hot new Mazda will certainly do so and producing a video to prove it.

“We’re a company that drives rear-wheel drive sports cars as well as front-wheel drive cars, so we know the benefits of being able to drift. That’s why we gave the MPS all the benefits of the Mazda6 but with a touch of rear-drive attitude,” he said.

To cope with the extra forces, the stronger Mazda6 sedan body was given 50 per cent more torsional rigidity thanks to a diagonal brace behind the rear seatback, cross-floor members, strengthened rear suspension mounts, a lengthened front cowl, extra dash mounts and reinforced roof rails.

While the AWD system adds 32kg, the strengthening measures add 6.7kg.

Up-front, Mazda6 MPS offers increased damping force, 25 per cent stiffer springs and a 1mm larger (25mm) anti-roll bar.

Similarly, the multi-link rear suspension employs larger monotube dampers, 37 per cent higher spring rates, and a 2mm-thicker (23mm) anti-roll bar.

Larger 17-inch brake rotors are fitted, as is ABS, brake assist and DSC stability control.

22 center image Wrapping up the package is a tougher looking body comprising a 45mm-deeper bonnet, five-point upper grille, massive lower airdam, side skirts, bootlid spoiler, larger twin exhaust outlets, 18-inch alloy wheels with 215/45-section tyres and an exclusive new paint colour called Moist Metallic Silver.

The interior MPS treatment is even more subtle and comprises specific instruments including a 280km/h speedo, semi-bucket front seats with enhanced lateral support and an exclusive new manual shift knob.

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