A Closer Look:
2009 Mazda6

The recipe for a longer life:
Eat healthy food, reduce stress and drive the new 2009 Mazda6

by Reed Berry, "The Traffic Guy"
Friday August 15, 2008

Can 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 much more.

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 Specifications: Click here.

For additional information on Mazda Vehicles: http://www.mazdausa.com

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© Reed Berry, "The Traffic Guy". All rights reserved.