The Mazda MX-6 is a front-engine, front-wheel-drive coupé manufactured and marketed by Mazda from 1987-1997 across two generations.
Mechanically identical to the Capella/626 and its hatchback platform mate, the Ford Probe, these cars shared the GD (1988–1992) and GE (1993–1997) platforms. The MX-6 replaced the 626 Coupé, although it continued to share the same chassis.
The MX-6, 626, and Ford Probe were manufactured at joint-venture plants either by AutoAlliance in Flat Rock, Michigan, for the North American market, and by Mazda Japan for Asian and European markets.
The first-generation MX-6 appeared in 1987 and lasted until 1992 in the United States. In some markets, the model years were from 1987 to 1991. It was based on a series of futuristic sports compact concept cars of the early 1980s. It was a large coupé, based on the Mazda GD platform, and was powered by the inline-four Mazda F engines. It used the Mazda G4A-EL four-speed electronic-shift automatic transmission.
The US market made use of the F2 2.2-liter engine, with the base engine producing 110 hp (82 kW), but a 145 hp (108 kW) turbocharged version was available. European and Japanese market versions were shipped with either the F8 1.8 L, FE 2.0 L or FE-DOHC 2.0 L DOHC engines.
The MX-6 was produced with two transmission options, a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic with overdrive. The MX-6 was also known to be a very reliable car, mechanically.
This generation was available in several trim levels, which differed depending on the market in which the vehicle was sold. In the United States, the MX-6 was available in DX, LX, LE, and GT trim levels:
In 1989, Mazda offered a special four-wheel steering (commonly abbreviated 4WS) option on MX-6 GTs destined for the U.S. This system consisted of an electronically controlled rear steering rack that turned the rear wheels opposite to the fronts at low speeds to improve cornering, and turned the rear wheels with the fronts at high speeds to improve highway lane change maneuvering. This option was available through all years for GT models in other markets.
European specification vehicles shipped as the 626 Coupé and commonly received either the 1.8 L SOHC F8 or 2.0 L SOHC FE engine in GLX models, or the 2.0 L FE-DOHC engine in their GT models. 4WS was a common option for European 626 Coupés. Australian vehicles were almost always equipped with the 2.2 L turbocharged F2T engine as the US models, as well as 4WS. They also carried the MX-6 name of the American models.
Japanese specification vehicles were shipped as the Capella C2 and were available in several trims, most notably GT-R (FE-DOHC and 4WS), GT-X (FE-DOHC and AAS) or GT-S (F8 and 4WS or AAS). In other parts of Asia, the MX-6 name was also used.
New Zealand received vehicles in either European or Australian specification, selectable on order. As such, NZ GTs can have either the F2T 2.2 L turbocharged engine or the FE-DOHC 2.0 L DOHC, with optional 4WS.
Mazda launched the second generation MX-6 using the GE platform, shared by the 626 and Ford rebadged cars, the Ford Probe and the Ford Telstar.
It was released in three distinct variants worldwide, known as A-spec, E-spec, and J-spec, which relates to their destined markets – U.S., Europe, and Japan, respectively.
The A-spec variant for the North American market was manufactured alongside the Ford Probe and Mazda 626 from 1992 as a 1993 model by AutoAlliance International in Flat Rock, Michigan. Three trim levels were available on the A-spec models:
In 1995, the second generation MX-6 was refreshed with different five-spoke alloy wheels, and emissions changes. Another major change after 1995 was the addition of OBD-II to the car. With this addition, the 164 hp (122 kW) was decreased to 160 hp (120 kW) for every year thereafter. Known as the "GE2", this model ran until 1997. Unlike the first generation, the second-generation MX-6 only had one model with a different moniker – the Canadian MX-6 Mystère.
Built from 1991 in Japan, for Australia, New Zealand, and Europe, compared to the A-spec, the E-spec has different headlights (a two-piece projector setup giving far greater lighting) and taillights, different front and rear bumpers, fog lights, wing-mirrors (power and heated), steering wheel, interior trim, and alloys as standard. The side indicator lights were mounted behind the front wheels, and no corner bumper lights were used. It also came with optional air conditioning and leather interior (standard from '96), and the MX-6’s main act – the 4WS system (not available in the UK). The engine was the same as the U.S. version (although not limited by lower-octane fuels) – the KL-DE 2.5 DOHC V6 engine, making 165 PS (121 kW) and with the higher octane fuels used in Europe as standard, slightly lower mileage but with greater performance.
In Australia, the MX-6 was released in November 1991. Only one trim was available. Equipped with the KL-DE 2.5 DOHC V6 engine, sunroof, 4WS, etc., with the only remaining options being leather and electric seats. September 1994 was the release of the GE2 update model. Like Mazda Australia did with the GD2, now two choices were available – the 4WS, all-options MX-6, or the 2WS version. They both had new wheels, interior trim, and steering wheel, but only the 4WS version got the sunroof, CD player, leather (which actually only became standard in late '96), and the digital climate control. The MX-6 lasted until 1997, with the last few rolling out of dealers in 1998. The last one rolled off the assembly line on June 20, 1997.
This version was also released in 1991, and is very similar to the E-spec (as they are built in the same place), but with minor changes. The version sold in Japan was exclusive to Japanese Mazda dealerships, and was not badge engineered and sold at other Mazda Japanese dealerships, unlike the MX-3, the MX-5, and the RX-7 coupes. One-piece headlights were fitted, with indicators incorporated in the fog light housing, as well as a different rear bumper with smaller registration plate cutout, similar to the A-spec. Almost everything was an option, but the 4WS was available, as well as the digital climate control, electric folding mirrors, larger centre console, and of course, the Mazdaspeed body add-ons – a subtle lip kit with Supra-style high-rise rear spoiler.
Engine choice was the KL-ZE 2.5 DOHC V6 making 200 PS (147 kW), a high-compression version of the KL-DE, or the KF-ZE 2.0 DOHC V6 making 160 PS (118 kW); all of the K-series engines in the MX-6 were based on the same engine block and included those found in the Ford Probe, Xedos 6, and MX-3 V6 models. The KLZE had about 40 more horsepower than the KLDE versions for a few reasons. Although the displacement was the same, the KLZE had more durations on the cams, higher compression due to a different shape of pistons, and the intake manifold was different on the ZE. The KL-ZE intake manifold runners were shorter and wider than the KL-DE manifold. Also, the heads on the KL-ZE were ported and shaped differently. Not only was the ZE higher in compression, but it was also a higher-revving engine. The only flaws in the KL-ZE design were the weaker valve springs on the intake valves. This is usually corrected by using the KL-DE springs, keepers, and retainers which are stronger.
Four-wheel steering was used from 1987 to 1998 on both MX-6 GT and GE models. Four-wheel steering (4WS) was available on both the first-generation and second-generation MX-6 models, although the North American market only received it for the 1989 GT model. South African MX-6s never received 4WS.
According to Mazda, the system provided:
The system electronically controlled a rear rack that was behind the rear wheels. At low speeds (up to 35 km/h), the rear wheels move in the opposite direction from the front wheels, aiding parking and U-turns by lowering the turning circle. Above these speeds, the rear wheels move in the same direction as the front, meaning control during high-speed maneuvers such as lane changes or cornering was improved. Either way, the turning angle of the rear wheels was slight at just 5°, a measurement Mazda determined to be optimally effective and natural to human sensitivity.
On 16 October 2018, Mazda filed a trademark application with the Japanese Patent Office for the Mazda MX-6 nameplate which can be used for "automobiles and parts and accessories thereof," hinting that the manufacturer may release a new generation MX-6 in the near future.
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