An enlarged front airdam, which looks capable of swallowing a fair share of the many hapless wild animals that roam our roads, sticky 18-inch rubber, massive twin exhaust pipes, solid leather sports seats and drilled aluminium pedals do not a sports saloon make. However, the Mazda6 MPS is clearly much more than a regular family saloon with go-faster bits added for effect.
In this instance, the relatively unremarkable looks of the ordinary Mazda6 are rather welcoming – other drivers generally need to hear an impatient bark from those giant tailpipes before realising just what has crept up behind them.
It’s a very capable sports saloon too, aided in part by the utilisation of Mazda’s Active Torque Split all-wheel drive system and its superb 2,3-litre direct injection turbocharged four cylinder unit pumping out 191 kW at 5 500 r/min and 380 N.m at 3 000 r/min. Mated as it is with a six-speed transmission, this power-hungry family saloon is remarkably quick (Mazda claims a 0-100 km/h time of 6,6 seconds and a top speed of 240 km/h).
Clogged city bypasses sadly marred my session in the MPS, but the thrill-factor glimpsed on occasion was unmistakable. Stomp on the accelerator, soar past 4 500 r/min, and brace yourself as the 1 600 kg mass lurches ahead as if on some untold adventure. Could the MPS leave two well-known rally-bred performance mongers to shame or make a few (seemingly) more imposing super saloons gasp on its tyre smoke? It certainly leaves the impression that it wouldn’t mind giving those punters a serious run for their money…
The all-wheel drive system applies up to 50 per cent of the engine power to the rear wheels via three settings, which are thankfully controlled via the ECU. In doing so, the MPS allows its driver to concentrate on the more exhilarating task of the navigating the road ahead.