Subaru Legacy 2.0i Sedan CVT, Mazda 6 2.0 R SDN Review
The 6th Element

Story and Photos by Raymond Lai
20 May 2010

The Mazda6 has been hugely under rated ever since its debut over two years ago. How will the mildly tweaked version fare against another under rated large saloon - the Subaru Legacy.

Zooming in

When it comes to big Japanese saloons, the venerable Toyota Camry comes to mind immediately and then alternatives like the Nissan Teana and Honda Accord come to mind. Give it more thought and slightly more under rated models like the Subaru Legacy and the Mazda6 will come into the picture. The latter has recently been facelifted to entice more buyers away from the likes of the Camry.

Mazda is certainly proud of its ‘Zoom Zoom' philosophy for its products. So much so that a chime top the tune of ‘Zoom zoom zoom' will be played once after you start the engine on the Mazda6.

The first generation 6 was the car that first embodied the brand's ‘Zoom zoom' philosophy. Mazda's large saloon entered its second incarnation in 2007. Three years on and Mazda has decided it is the right time to give its large saloon some updates, albeit a rather minor one to help it see off the popular Camry as well as newer if not so ubiquitous models like the latest generation Subaru Legacy.

Subaru introduced the fifth generation Legacy late last year to much anticipation. In addition to the familiar 2.5 GT, the range also encompasses a normally aspirated 2-litre version for those who are not so in a hurry. I was a tad underwhelmed when I first drove the Legacy saloon in GT form late last year. It seemed that Subaru has lost its plot with the Legacy - it somehow felt less driver focused than before and seemed to be made for the masses instead of the enthusiast driver like in the past. It'll be interesting then to see how the base Legacy saloon fares against the rather dynamic and recently rejuvenated Mazda6.

The 6 looks lithe and dynamic compared to giants like the Honda Accord. The exterior features many similar styling elements with the RX-8 including the shape of the headlamps, the flared wheel arches and so on. The steeply raked windscreen and curvy roofline also gives it a sporty and coupe-like silhouette. The overall look is sporty and purposeful, especially in R trim here, rather than elegant and classy like its closest competitors.

The facelifted model features a slightly tweaked front end treatment. The headlamps have new lenses, the radiator grille is more prominent with the Mazda emblem in the middle bigger than before while the shape of the air intakes on the bumper are now in line with newer models like the 3 and the upcoming 5. Along the flanks, the only noticeable change is the new alloy wheel design, 18-inch on the R grade car here. Changes to the rear are limited to just the new tail lamps that resemble more like the 3's. The changes are overall are very subtle to say the least but it's no bad thing as the 6 has never looked aged even before the updates - it not only looks contemporary but also dynamic and athletic in its stance, the latter is something that can't be said of the Subaru here.

The fifth generation Legacy isn't exactly the prettiest car around. Without the GT's bigger wheels and aerodynamic kit, the 2.0i looks anemic and as if riding on stilts. Despite the efforts of the swollen wheel arches, the 2.0i looks really slab-sided from the flanks. The overall design looks heavy, lacks cohesiveness and without any form of purposefulness. It just seemed that all Subaru's designers cared for with the Legacy's styling was to make it look big and imposing, hence making some think that its looks were conceived for American tastes where big is king. Next to the Legacy, the Mazda really looks purposeful and sporty in comparison.


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