It has taken months of ownership and weekends of working on this stupid thing but the Mazda6 is finally fixed. Saturday I did the valve cover gaskets which were sorely needed as the ones I took out were as hard as plastic and super brittle and it was leaking a quart of oil every 200 miles or so. I also put in a new rear motor mount to get rid of a drivetrain clunk. $80 at LKQ net me an undamaged door in the proper color as the door it had was ruined by a run-in with a Ford Fusion a few months back.
This was actually hell on earth. No two ways about it. Leaning my 5'5" ass waaaayyyy over the engine bay of a midsized Mazda to get to the rear valve cover bolts sucked ass and resulted in much back pains. To further my frustration, it’s physically impossible to remove the cover without snaking a wrench in and unbolting and removing the VVT solenoid.
Without a doubt the all-aluminum 3 liter DOHC V6 is a gem of an engine. Rev happy, makes good noises, pretty damn decent amount of power for its size. It’s just installed in the wrong orientation. I’d absolutely die to have this engine in a Miata (fun fact, Mazda considered putting it in the NB but decided it would be too expensive and nobody would buy it).
Damaged-ass door. Bowed out and wouldn’t seal at the top at all. Wind noise was horrendous. Window wouldn’t roll down all the way. 0/10.
This shit is weird. Most doors have the door cavity with the wires in it, the window regulator bolts to the door, the motor is in there somewhere, and there’s a bit of plastic sheet moisture barrier glued on with a tar like substance. Here there is a big-ass sheet of FRP to which EVERYTHING on the door bolts. Regulator, motor, handles, wiring, all of it. The wiring never goes inside the door cavity, but instead runs through clips on the interior side of this panel for easy access. The window motor is staring you in the face as soon as you take the door card off, easily removed with three bolts.
I’m on the fence about this design. On one hand, it seems VERY repair-friendly and, indeed, it takes about 15 minutes to totally strip and remove one of these doors.
On the other hand, since everything bolts to that chunk of FRP if it cracks, breaks, catches fire, etc. you’re thoroughly boned. Luckily there are plenty in salvage yards, but I imagine breaking off an interior door handle when these were new was an absurdly expensive oopsie.
So now that it’s all in one piece I can say: honestly it drives great. Mazda did a good job making something that sounds boring on paper, a V6 FWD midsized sedan family hauler, fairly entertaining to drive. Steering is super responsive and the engine is rev-happy and ready to go. The only thing marring the experience is something I’ve noticed a lot in Fords of this era: an INCREDIBLY lethargic electronic throttle. My 2005 Mustang also had this issue and it makes things like heel-toe downshifts incredibly frustrating. The whole car feels very quality and solid in a way not on par with, say, my Lexuses, but far and above better than any domestic I’ve owned from the era.