I bought this car in 2006 as an ex-demonstrator, and still to this day most people I talk with about my car have no idea what an MPS brings to the table that the standard variants don't have. Let me tell you it's more than just a badge or luxury level.
Under the bonnet, the Mazda 6 MPS is powered by a turbocharged 2.3-litre engine, coupled to a 6-speed gearbox with a sporty, heavy clutch. To get that power to the wheels, it also boasts an all-wheel drive setup with up to 50/50 power split between the front and rear wheels.
Being a 2.3-litre engine means it has enough torque for a great start off the line before the turbo really kicks in at just under 3000rpm. You can hear and feel the turbo spooling from around 2000rpm, and if you plant the accelerator it quickly leaps into action. First gear is quite short, so a quick change is required to second, but then the car races through the gears easily.
Although the all-wheel drive system under standard conditions favors the front wheels more than the rear, the traction control system really does an excellent job varying the power balance with zero wheel spin from the front wheels.
All-wheel drive really comes into it's own when it comes to cornering, and being able to pull out of a corner with full acceleration feels amazing! One thing I wasn't a fan of (and got an aftermarket upgrade to fix) was the ride height and firmness of the suspension.
In any case - it always feels safe in all weather and speed conditions.
The exterior of the car has a few differences to the other variants of the same model, most of which are subtle and most people probably wouldn't notice. Starting at the front you have a large air dam and slightly different styling around the nose that feeds air to the engine bay. Being a turbo, the bonnet is raised to accommodate the top mounted intercooler.
The MPS features HID headlamps, which many cars today still don't sport.
Along the sides you'll notice larger skirts and trim around the lower part of the doors, along with 18-inch wheels. At the rear, the rear window taillight found in the standard models is absent and replaced by an LED taillight in a boot lid spoiler. The rear bumper is more filled out than the standard models, and it accommodates the dual exhaust pipes and sporty trim.
Inside, there are two sub-variants, the leather and standard. Being an ex-demonstrator I only had the standard option, but in comparison to new cars these days there is a noticeably higher quality than what is provided today. Plastics are a dark grey, with the dash a little lighter and the roof a light grey. Seats look and feel sporty with a comfortable but firm feel and good shaping to keep you in your seat around corners. One thing to note is that due to the car being a performance model, the rear seat is fixed for structural strength and there is no boot access.
In terms of gadgets and controls, this car was ahead of its time 12 years ago, with steering wheel controls for cruise control and audio. Cruise control in a manual?? Yes, and it's amazing. The leather model not only boasts leather seats and different trim colours but also a Bose sound system. Standard sound system is still 6 speakers with split in the front cabin and door speakers in the rear.
One downside of this car is that it needs 95 RON fuel minimum. I also feel the engine is really down-tuned, with a simple kit being able to add an extra 15kW very easily.
All in all - I made the right choice with my car purchase and I still have it 12 years later! It's a mix of sports, fun and practicality. An all round qualified car!
If you buy one now, spend the money and get the engine and drivetrain looked over by a professional. Being turbo and AWD they can be expensive and unfortunately I'm sure many don't give their MPS the treatment it deserves!