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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-20-2002, 06:01 PM Thread Starter
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Another '6s 5spd manual test drive...

I just want to add my $0.02 to the opinions from my very recent test drive of a 6s with 5spd manual transmission.

The vehicle I test drove is identical to the one I ordered Nov 15 from Crown Motors in Holland, MI. The vehicle I test drove Nov 14 was a 6s with 5spd auto and no options. My family has had a very good experience owning Mazda vehicles, and I had no problem placing an order for a vehicle I hand't driven yet. As an employee of a Tier 1 supplier to Ford Motor I am able to buy my vehicle on S-Plan, but because they're selling the vehicle to me at a discount and because of the demand they wouldn't sell me the vehicle they ordered for their own inventory. Oh well. The vehicle I have on order, and that I drove today, is a 6s with 5spd manual, Sport Package, Bose Audio, moonroof, leather interrior, side air bags, and comfort package.

I guess I really want to provide my own insight into what are peceived problems with the '6 that I've read.

The Transmission:

The clutch and shifter take some getting used to. The clutch travel is shorter than my '89 626 but is very linear. I didn't stall the vehicle during my test drive, unlike some of the Honda products I've driven. The shifter isn't as smooth as the Miata's but it's not bad. It's quite a bit more free than in my 626 so it'll take some getting used to. Some of the shift gates are not as precise feeling as I would like, but I was never in any danger of doing an accidental downshift into 2nd instead of 4th. While on the topic of shift gates, they're also not as tight as the ones in the Celica GTS which IMHO is a very good thing.

Handling:

It's been very windy the past few days here on the west side of Michigan, and the steering wheel was able to effectivly communicate the steering input caused by the wind. The car also didn't blow around very much. Weight transfer while cornering and braking is very predictable.

Noise:

I had the car around 80mph on the highway in 4th gear and the noise in the cabin was very tolerable. IMHO the road noise wasn't as bad as some reviewers have let on. It may not be a Lexus, but it's 10x better than the previous generation Dodge Stratus. Wind noise also was very subdued, which given the 80mph speed and gusty winds is very impressive. The engine was also rather quiet. Normal conversation at highway speeds on crappy roads is very doable.

Controls:

I've gotten a bit more used to the layout of the controls, and they're less of a problem than when I first test drove the car. I made a quick adjustment to temp and hit the 'auto' button and temperature seemed okay. With the weather we get in Michigan I'm hoping I don't run into the same problems that Steve is having. When adjusting the volume on the center console I accidently turned the stereo off. A bit frustrating as I ment to turn it not bump it. I suppose that will take a bit more getting used to, but definatly not a reason to not buy the car.

Rear Seats:

I'm 6'1" tall and after the test drive I left the drivers seat in place and sat in the back. I had a little head room to spare and sufficient leg room. No complaints here. Being stuck in the rear seat behind a driver of my size would get annoying on a long trip, but for the couple minutes I was back there it wasn't a problem. :)

Rear Visibility with the spoiler:

This was something I learned to watch out for with the Celica GTS and it's rather small rear window and spoiler that cuts through the middle of it. The spoiler on the '6 is in the lower part of the rear view and doesn't obstruct much of the view. I was very happy with overal sightlines of the car. The side curtains sitting attached to the A-pillars take a little getting used to though.


Generally speaking I'm very happy having finally driven a car identical to the one I have on order. The dealership has said that I may see my car in late January to early February. For me it's not a big problem having to wait because my 626 is still running strong at 190k miles. It's especially nice because I'll be able to make a larger down payment on the car. I've been keeping track of AAI production through Ward's Automotive publications, and am a bit currious as to why this is. Theey seem to be cranking out enough cars, but like the dealership and halfadozen have experienced once the car is built it's taking a really long time to get to the dealerships. When I sat down and spec'd out a car Nov14 the dealership already had the VIN# for the car I test drove today (it arrived Wednesday evening).
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-20-2002, 08:48 PM
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Replying to Topic 'Another '6s 5spd manual test drive...'

That is one *excellent* and detailed review - well done.

My car is across the street from the plant having the fancy Homelink mirror being installed; it should be shipped Monday or Tuesday (which means a new 6S for me right after Xmas! Hurrah!).

My wife tells me they are 2-3 days behind the target production numbers; to me with a launch a few months ago that is excellent.

I too got the "S" plan pricing from the dealer because my wife works in the plant.
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-20-2002, 09:53 PM Thread Starter
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Replying to Topic 'Another '6s 5spd manual test drive...'

Thank you.

That's very good news on your '6. Do you (or your wife) know rougly how much of production is automatic trannies vs manual trannies? Or for that matter I4 vs V6?

I was kind of hoping that the dealership would sell me the car I drove today, but they've promised others a test drive in it. I'd rather not purchase a vehicle that I know others have test driven. I took it easy, but I'm sure others won't. It's just too much fun to push the throttle down in 2nd or 3rd and just let the car run.

It was kind of a let down after the test drive. I got back into my 626 to head home and I was like 'where are the brakes!' And then it hit me. I don't have 4 wheel 11+" disc brakes.

Let's see here... What did I forget to mention. Oh yeah, I wear size 14 shoes and the ability to hit the clutch and brake pedal at the same time is a very real possibility. This happens occasionally with my 626, but the pedals in the '6 seem closer together. I also didn't like it that the shifter is on the right side of the car. It felt a little unnatural. Oh well. The price one pays for buying a car designed by people who drive on the wrong side of the road.
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-21-2002, 10:24 AM
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Replying to Topic 'Another '6s 5spd manual test drive...'

Mpulse;

After reading your details I thought -There's no 6s' in Holland!-

I then saw where your Holland was. :)

But an excellent writeup by any means. I can't wait to drive the s myself. Have you driven the i model in comparison?
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-21-2002, 11:50 AM Thread Starter
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Replying to Topic 'Another '6s 5spd manual test drive...'

I haven't driven a '6i.

Part of that is because with four cylinder engines the automatic transmission eats up too much of the power, and there aren't any manual transmission four bangers out this way. The other thing is that while the fuel economy is nice and I'm sure the handling is a little better, I want to take advantage of being able to get a sporty car with a V6 and manual transmission. I was also kind of looking for the auto climate control, which is only available on the V6.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-22-2002, 11:20 AM
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Replying to Topic 'Another '6s 5spd manual test drive...'

How was the balance of the s? There is concern that the i, while not as quick, is extremely well balanced, and the extra 200 or so pounds of the s will take that balance away.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-22-2002, 03:02 PM
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Replying to Topic 'Another '6s 5spd manual test drive...'

QUOTE
Quote:
Originally posted by applejax


* * * * * * How was the balance of the s? *There is concern that the i, while not as quick, is extremely well balanced, and the extra 200 or so pounds of the s will take that balance away.[/b]
I have read that over and over here on this forum; when I test drove a 6S it felt remarkably balenced. IMHO, and I mean this, this is yet another example of folks using paper specs to make a decision without driving the car. Big mistake. I took the 6S on a freeway entrance that required me to take a very hard right and I let it run hard (with the stick) and hit the expressway at 105mph; it was wonderfully predictable and felt very tight and strong in the turn.

They had an obstacle course set up (this was all during the "Joy of 6" Family Drive Day back in October) and I ran it again very hard - on the slalom course wth orange cones it was not front heavy and I ripped though it very efficently.

Just my experience.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-22-2002, 04:43 PM
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Replying to Topic 'Another '6s 5spd manual test drive...'

I agree. The 6s is finely balanced IMO. Furthermore, with a FWD car, a little forward bias is not necessarily a bad thing. It tends to give the car a more RWD feel.

-Alt
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-22-2002, 07:03 PM
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Replying to Topic 'Another '6s 5spd manual test drive...'

QUOTE
Quote:
Originally posted by halfadozen


They had an obstacle course set up (this was all during the "Joy of 6" Family Drive Day back in October) and I ran it again very hard - on the slalom course wth orange cones it was not front heavy and I ripped though it very efficently.

Just my experience.[/b]
*drool*
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