Mazda built its reputation in sports cars and the 626 ES was their first truly exciting sedan. Well worth the wait, in my opinion. While everyone else went the luxobloat route, the 626 is lean, mean and thoroughly singular in purpose - light, fast and utterly responsive. This is one fun four door, a quiet riot with vrroom for four.
It's not like they skimped on the cush to get there either. The 626 has a sweet inside to keep you happy as the road goes to a blur. Great seats, leather, nice dash, good sound and most important, a really fine steering wheel to steer you right. A smooth soft touch characterizes all the controls and there is a certain refinement to the driving experience that is quite satisfying. The shifter is very solid and accurate. Color tones and materials are first rate throughout. Overall design and quality are class benchmarks. Sleek, seductive contours frame a pleasant cockpit with a mega trunk and a split fold-down backseat.. The exterior styling is rather nondescript, so don't expect to wow the neighbors though.
Refined or not, it still goes like hell. The 5 speed snicks into gear and the V6 sings in silence. There is just enough skitter under power to be fun and the overall ride quality is excellent. Twisties are unfurled with little fuss and the feel is delicate and catlike, with no trace of indifference. The ES is without question one of the nicest handling small sedans ever. A perfect car for enthusiast and a real sports sedan.