Mazda is known for its sports cars and coupes, and among its models to enter North America is its Mazda MX-6. Released between 1987 and 1997, this front-wheel drive coupe was initially known as the Mazda Capella in Japan until it was later renamed. The MX-6 had the same mechanical work and design as the Mazda 626 and the Ford Probe. And even though the it later replaced the 626 coupe, it still retained the same chassis. The MX-6 and 626, as well as the Ford Probe, were built in joint-venture plants. For the North American market, auto manufacturing was done by AutoAlliance in Flat Rock, Michigan. Although the MX-6 didn't live long enough till the 2000s, it was best remembered as a Japanese sporty coupe with a front-wheel drive system and was deemed to be quite a reliable car.
1987-1992: The first generation Mazda MX-6
In the US, the MX-6 made its debut in 1987 and lasted through 1992. Inspired by the early '80s futuristic sports compact concept cars, it was a relatively large coupe with a platform based on Mazda GD. The earlier MX-6 had an I4 Mazda F engine and a Mazda G4a_EL 4-speed electronic shift automatic transmission. For the US market, the MX-6 was powered by an F2 2.2L engine. The base engine could generate up to 110 hp while the turbocharged variant could produce as much as 145 hp. The MX-6 came with either a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automotive transmission with overdrive. Several trim levels for the first-generation MX-6 in the US included the DX, LX, LE, and GT.
A special four-wheel steering system variant was added to the MX-6 GT lineup for the US market in 1989. The system improved the cornering abilities of MX-6 GT and made maneuvering through highway lane changes smoother. Steering responsiveness and precision was among the notable changes brought about by the system.
1993: The second generation Mazda MX6
The newer MX6 used the GE platform, which was also used by the 626 and the rebadged vehicles from Ford such as the Probe and Telstar. The second generation MX6 came in different variants known as the A-spec, E-spec, and J-spec, matched to different markets such as the US, Europe, and Japan. The A-spec variant for the North American market came in three trim levels: the RS, LS, and LS M-edition. The RS trim is the base model, which came equipped with the FS-DE 2.0 DOHC I4 engine that could generate up to 118hp. The luxury model, or LS trim, used a KL-DE 2.5 DOHC V6 engine that could churn out as much as 164 hp. For the LS M-edition, the various features included the all-red tail lights, gold alloy wheels, all gold badges, and in-dash 3-disk CD stacker. This was available in different colors such as burgundy, black, and white. The cream leather interior and special gold pin striping were among the styling upgrades. The A-Spec models, however, weren't designed with four-wheel steering.
The new Mazda MX6 was later upgraded with a set of 5-spoke alloy wheels and twin airbags in 1995. There were also some changes in emissions. The next big revision done was the inclusion of OBD-II. Unfortunately, the model lasted only through 1997.