Sporty lineage gives it the edge

You’re familiar with Columbia Sportswear jackets, right? Those advanced, breathable synthetic outerwear clothes that active-lifestyle types enjoy so much?

Well, over time, the development of material capable of standing up to extreme weather conditions naturally becomes less expensive to produce and, in turn, more widely available to people like you and me.

I get red-faced and stuffy-nosed at the very thought of –10 C temperatures — but I appreciate being able to buy technology that will keep my insides from frosting.


With the 2008 Mazda6 GS, the story begins way back with Mazda’s fascination in building a car for the singular purpose of driving pleasure. The company’s legendary 1967 Cosmo sport coupe was built by hand at great cost around the company’s advanced rotary engine. It’s well worth a trip to Wikipedia to gaze upon the car’s lines, because its lineage can be felt in Mazda’s popular family sedan.

That’s no exaggeration or shilling for the automaker’s advertising either — the Mazda6, even in its base GS form, is far more sporty and fun to drive than the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, or Nissan Altima. It rides well without being harsh over bumps. The first time it’s thrown at a highway on-ramp, you feel feedback through your hands that this car will handle whatever lies around the bend.

For $24,495 you get ABS, traction control, automatic headlamps, dual exhaust tips, tilt and telescope steering wheel, dual front airbags, dual side airbags, dual curtain airbags, whiplash-reducing seats, keyless entry, engine immobilizer theft deterrent system, six-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo, air conditioning, power windows, power door locks, cruise control, and exterior temperature gauge.

Options include a five-speed automatic transmission ($1,100) and a sport package ($900) that adds fog lights, 17-inch alloy wheels, eight-way power driver’s seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel, shifter, and handbrake handle, plus steering wheel-mounted audio controls.

The Mazda6 has been largely unchanged since its debut in 2002, mainly because it hasn’t needed a refresh like many of its rivals. In fact, the number of people who migrated to the 6 for its sporty ride and looks has worried other mid-size car manufacturers. How worried? Enough that most market rivals now offer a “sporty” model and appearance package in the same vein as a Mazda6 GT.

By any reckoning, the Mazda6 is a relative bargain — especially since an original Cosmo will cost you around $100,000 nowadays … if you can find one.

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