A Winning Design

I'll admit that I wasn't sold on the Mazda6's new look when I first saw photos of the car. I'd already been a fan of the first-generation's lithe shape, considering it one of the best-looking family sedans available. The second-generation 2009 Mazda6 is one of those cars that you need to see in person to get a good sense of, and considering that it's on sale now, you should be able to find one near you if you want to see it for yourself.

The new Mazda6's front fenders will be among its most controversial elements; they're reminiscent of recent Mazda concept cars like the Ryuga. There's a dramatic bulge in the fenders that tapers off toward the front doors. The design is also readily apparent when viewing the car head-on.

Another interesting cue is the slit-like headlights. They're similar in shape to the ones on the Ryuga, and they make a striking design statement as they flow into the front fenders. I don't really like the body-colored grille Mazda has given the car. I would prefer something in chrome, which I think would go nicely with the slim headlights (see a side-by-side comparison with the 2008 model).

Some automakers have trouble finishing the final quarter of a sedan with styling that ties the whole car together — the new Honda Accord and Chevrolet Malibu come to mind — but the Mazda6 avoids this trap with a nicely styled rear end. The sleek roofline tapers downward to the short trunklid, and the rear is finished with wraparound taillights. It follows the smooth, flowing styling of the front of the car, which makes it work well.

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