Things change over time, it’s a fact. Our lives change, the things around us change. This isn’t the same world it was 20 years ago.
>>A SHORT HISTORY<<
Cars are just one of the examples of how things change. Almost a hundred years ago, people were driving crude (by today’s standards) looking cars that didn’t offer much in terms of performance and comfort. Then came the 1960’s and 1970’s where the bigger the car was, the better and more popular it was. Eventually, the 1980’s came and world events made things change for the better. Car engineers weren’t focused so much on aesthetics anymore by this time. Now, they cared more about efficiency and affordability. This is the time that the Asian car manufacturers like Mazda, Honda, and Toyota took off and established a name for themselves. By the end of the 1980’s, the Automotive industry was back on the right foot as we have learned a lot about how to make better cars. Evolution. That is the subject of this blog entry today.
>>MAZDA 6 vs MAZDA 626<<
There are two cars that deserve to be looked at today, just to see how far we have come exactly. The first car is a 2000 Mazda 626.
The second vehicle is a 2016 Mazda 6.
The name might be different, but the positioning of these two cars in the automotive market is just the same. They are both considered midsize sedans, but that is where the similarities end. The 626 and the 6 are two completely different cars. They have different “personalities” The 626 is a very simple looking car while the latter is a very sporty looking car with sleek lines and sharp edges.
>> THE MAZDA 626
The year is 1997 and Mazda is getting ready to release a new version of one of their best selling cars, the 626. The current model had already been in production since 1993 and after four years, it was time for a change.
According to Road and Track magazine, the upcoming 1998 model was the best kept secret in its class (the midsize sedan class of course), so everyone was excited to see what Mazda was going to bring to the table. Compared to the outgoing 1997 model, the new car looked bolder with more pronounced headlamps and taillamps and an ergonomically better interior, even though it technically was on the same chassis as the previous car. That is evidenced by the overall shape of the body.
In the early 1990’s Mazda was known for making bubbly looking cars. Despite the early nineties shape of the car, engineers were successful in keeping their car up with current times as the new model looked fresh. Mostly everything else technical was carried over but updated of course so that nothing was overlooked. There were two trim levels to choose from, and both were well equipped. The first model is the LX. It came with cloth seats and “creature comforts” such as power windows, locks, and keyless entry. The second model was the ES. This model came with everything the LX had to offer with a leather interior (instead of cloth) and wood accents in the instrument panel which gave the car a more premium feel. There were two choices to pick from for power. You could get either a 2.0 liter inline 4-cylinder engine, or an “advanced for the time” 2.5 liter all-aluminum V6 engine for more power and a sporty drive. To get all that power to the wheels, there was the option of either a 5-speed manual transmission or a 4-speed automatic. The car did well even though it was no match for its competitors, the Toyota Camry or the Honda Accord. Both of those cars were still superior in terms of styling, performance, and comfort, but the 626 was “The Little Engine That Could”.
For the 2000 model year, the car went through the “traditional update” that all cars go through at one point or another during their lifecycle. The headlights and taillights were made slightly larger and more aggressive looking. The interior was revised with a new instrument cluster and the cup holders now had closable lids to cover them when they weren’t in use. This minor facelift carried the car for two more years, with it finally “meeting its maker” in 2002 at the end of its production. By then, the 626 was gone from showroom floors, and a newer, even better car took its place.
>> THE MAZDA 6
That “newer, even better” car was called the Mazda 6. It was a completely different car than anything Mazda had ever offered. Gone were the days of buying a family car that looked so bland that it practically looked like any other car on the market. The new 6 was aggressive looking with sporty exterior as well as a sharp looking interior.
Available exterior options for the car included a large trunk spoiler and 18-inch wheels which ended up giving the car a very sporty look. The first generation Mazda 6 ended and another generation was launched for the 2009 model year and then the 2014 model year. For 2014, the car greatly matured, and echoed the eighties. It had the refinement of a Toyota Camry, with the efficiency of a small car. The V6 engine was gone, but with everything the car had to offer, did it really matter? Well, the sales still weren’t as high as the competitors from Toyota and Honda but the car still stood out. It had the aggressiveness that the 6 was known for, but was more refined. The car didn’t feel rough around the edges anymore. Now, there were three trim levels to choose from, the Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring. All three models were well equipped, with each level of trim offering more than the previous one. Just take a look at the base Mazda 6, the Sport.
This was a significantly more advanced car than what Mazda was offering back in 1997. This new model came with Mazda’s intelligent key, which allowed you to open the doors and start the engine at the touch of a button. You have a touch screen display located at the middle of the dashboard that gives you access to some of the most important systems of the car such as the radio and navigation system. There is also a rear camera that comes on to help you see what’s behind you when you are backing up out of your driveway. Move up to the Touring and Grand Touring and you will be handsomely rewarded. The Touring model gives you more convenience with one-touch buttons on the doors which means you will never have to take the keys out of your pocket or purse to open them. Do you want even more technology and convenience? Check out the Grand Touring model. This model comes with leather seats and convenience options such as front and rear heated seats, power moonroof, LED lighting, rain-sensing wipers and adaptive radar-based cruise control that will actually try to stop your car in order to prevent an accident in case you happen to not be paying attention. The times have changed.
After driving the two cars, I couldn’t decide which one I liked better, as both had their benefits and drawbacks. The 2000 626 LX-V6 is exciting to drive even though it’s an automatic. The 2.5 engine roars to life, which makes up for the car’s lack of technology and appearance which is as about as exciting as a generic #2 yellow pencil with a pink eraser.
The 2016 Mazda 6 on the other hand is quiet and refined, like an old 1997 Toyota Camry. It looks sleek, and has the conveniences of today to help you out such as keyless entry and starting, with a backup camera to help you see the world around you.