2009 Mazda 6 - Sneak Preview 2008

We've always been fans of the Mazda 6's handsome looks and taut chassis. Our admiration, however, hasn't stopped all of the 6's competitors from focusing on space and comfort, so it's time for Mazda to play catch-up.

Unlike the current 6, the new car was designed specifically for the North American market. As a result, Mazda's mid-size four-door will be a lot bigger than its predecessor when it hits dealerships later this year. It also will boast a hefty bump in refinement.

The front end might look a little like a heavily Botoxed Björk, but we do like what's planned under the hood. The current 2.3-liter in-line four will be replaced with an all-new 2.5-liter unit producing about 170 hp. And fans of big, smoky, front-wheel burnouts will be glad to hear that the 3.0-liter V-6 is being dumped in favor of the torquey 3.7-liter from Mazda's CX-9.

YOU DIDN'T BUY ONE EITHER, HUH? While we've often recommended the Mazda 6 to our friends, few of them actually ponied up and bought one. Chalk it up to a lack of class-leading power and interior refinement and too-high levels of noise and harshness. The next 6 should give Mazda a greater foothold in the market but lose none of its edge.

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