driving a cool new car actually make you healthier? I'm not sure, but I
guess having a little Zoom-Zoom in your life can't hurt. That's why I accepted
Mazda's invitation to attend the Mazda6 Lifestyle Program at the
Four Seasons Hotel and California Health & Longevity Institute in Westlake
Village, California. Just like the other journalists that have assembled
here, I have been looking forward to getting behind the wheel of the new
2009 Mazda6, the first Mazda to be designed, developed, and manufactured
in the U.S.
Not only is this vehicle
manufactured in the United States, it is exclusive to North America and
unlike models being sold elsewhere in the world. The original Mazda6,
introduced in the 2003 model year, was a respectable little sport sedan
that combined practicality with driving enjoyment. But this is America...we
want bigger, more powerful, and more stylish. Well, apparently Mazda listens
because they now give us a vehicle that with those characteristics and
Compared to its predecessor,
this car certainly has greater eye appeal. According to Mazda, their goal
was an exterior design "capable of stirring any observer's emotions". While
my emotions seem to be in check at this point, I do like what I see. The
flowing lines convey a feeling of movement and the bold fender design gives
the car a solid look of quality. The curvature of the roof and unique headlamps
should appeal to even the most style-conscious driver.
I'm anxious to drive the
car, but apparently we will not be doing that just yet. After being led
to a training kitchen, we are now being taught by a nutrition expert how
to prepare healthy breakfast foods. Following the session, we will be expected
to eat these healthy foods. My first thought is how to sneak away for an
Egg McMuffin, or possibly even a stack of chocolate chip pancakes at a
nearby IHOP. I hate to admit it, but the foods being prepared look good,
smell great and taste fantastic! Time to drive the car now, right?
Not so fast. After all, this
is a lifestyle program and nothing follows a healthy breakfast better than
a series of stress-reducing exercises for drivers. Using rubber exercise
balls and an array of shiny new Mazda automobiles, we are being taught
by fitness experts how to do neck stretches, shoulder rolls and torso rotation.
Driver fitness tips are helpful for anyone, but seem particularly important
here in Southern California where bumper-to-bumper rush hour traffic can
quickly raise any driver's stress level.
Following our exercise period,
we are now stress-free and ready to drive a sporty new Mazda6. Sorry,
not yet. From the exercise area we are led to a banquet room for a press
briefing with Mazda executive and designers. Listening to them talk about
the car it is obvious that they are quite proud of this exciting new addition
to the Mazda family. Following the press briefing, we return to the training
kitchen to participate in preparing a health-conscious lunch. What...journalists
cooking in the kitchen? This could end up looking like a Food Network show
gone terribly wrong but, thanks to the supervising chefs, everything is
running smoothly and not even one food fight has broken out.
After our tasty lunch, it
is now time - believe it or not - to drive the Mazda6. And what
a scenic drive it should be. The planned route takes us from Westlake Village
to Malibu and back. Armed with a map and a few CDs, anxious journalists
jump in waiting cars for the much anticipated road test. Engines start
and this quiet, peaceful venue quickly fills with a confident sound of
power. Our colorful convoy exits the driveway and we make our way to the
101 Freeway. Apparently, some of the out-of-town journalists think 101
is the speed limit rather than the freeway number as they have already
pulled away from the pack.
Hey, I can understand their
enthusiasm. The car has a sporty look and feel and makes you want to jump
right into the driving experience. The car offers plenty of power and,
depending on how much speed you need, there are two available series to
pick from. The i series is powered by a 170-horsepower 2.5-liter
four cylinder engine, while the s series has a 3.7-liter
V6 that produces an impressive 272 horsepower. A six-speed manual transmission
is standard in the i series with an optional five-speed Sport AT
automatic with manual shift mode. All s models are equipped with
a six-speed Sport AT automatic with manual shift mode.
The interior is comfortable
and functional and, thanks to the car's new larger dimensions, it has a
feeling of spaciousness as well. A sculpted dash design with metallic-looking
features give the interior a crisp, sporty look. A stylish three-spoke
steering wheel is also a nice touch. My only criticism of the interior
has to do with the previously mentioned "sculpted" look. Because of the
way the center console is angled, my right leg rubs against it. The limited
legroom is a bit of a disappointment in an otherwise well designed interior.
Both the i series
and the s series are available in three trim levels: Sport, Touring
and Grand Touring. Touring models have a keyless entry system that unlocks
the doors as you approach the car and allows you to start the vehicle with
the push of a button. Grand Touring models have dual-zone climate control
as well as Bluetooth capabilities for both phone and audio.
Impressive performance and
a lengthy list of comfort and safety features will undoubtedly make this
car a popular favorite in its class.
With base prices ranging
from the low to the upper 20's, the new 2009 Mazda6 offers a lot
of Zoom-Zoom for the money.
2009 Mazda6 Vehicle
For additional information
on Mazda Vehicles: http://www.mazdausa.com
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