From my understanding both of the engines are of Ford origin, but have been extensively reworked by Mazda engineers. It isn't like Ford makes bad engines... compared to Chrysler or GM
, the Duratec and Zetec family of engines are pretty damn refined. If anything they are a marked improvement over the rather bland Mazda 4 and 6 cylinders they are replacing. Plus, if nothing else, the 6 is a HUGE improvement over the 626... which wasn't a bad car, it just wasn't great.
The most recent Autoweek Autofile does a test of the 6s, and as usual they make some comparisons to comparable models. Performance is, surprisingly, not class leading but rather middling or in the top tier in some categories. Build quality appears to be on par. Overall it isn't a bad choice IMHO. I would personally wait for the 5-door hatchback version that comes out in 2004.
One more thing, the 6 will be the basic platform for Ford's new mid-sized Futura and Mercury Montego. I find it odd that they did not use the new upsized Mondeo as the basis... but then again the 6 might be somewhat based on the Mondeo.
Stop drop and roll will not save you in hell. --- seen on a church marque in rural Virginia