Pros: The matte grey steel finish is a knockout. It's just so impressive looking.
Cons: Poor component quality, poor craftsmanship, poorly machined parts, etc.
I purchased this product because I haven't bought bread for my family for two years; I bake twice a week. After finally developing the perfect "daily bread", which took me 9 months or so, I started to experiment with new recipes that include more exotic flours and whole grains.
I bought a 4.5 quart KitchenAid Ultra Power Mixer four years ago on clearance for $160, and it only recently started to labor slightly during the extended kneading (5 minutes) I prefer when making sandwich breads with the artisan flours.
My husband has worked in commercial food production, including as a line cook and at a french bakery, so he's very picky about mixers. I read Cook's Illustrated fairly religiously, and so putting our two heads together, we came up with one conclusion for our domestic mixer upgrade (barring installing a Hobart): A KitchenAid 6 Quart mixer.
Not being one to immediately take off to the store and grab the first thing off the shelf, I waited seven months until I was certain to get the best deal I could possibly get (or so I thought). I finally found it at our local restaurant supply store, the KitchenAid Professional 6 525 Watt for $299 in imperial grey for that industrial look.
I brought it home, took everything out of the box (saving all of the packaging just in case), read the manual cover to cover while my husband hand washed the attachments, and realized it was really quite a simple machine, nothing to be intimidated by. I decided to adjust the bowl properly, one of my pet peeves with the 4.5 quart model, so I installed the paddle attachment (no spring catch mechanism, a change from the tilt head models), fitted the bowl to the pegs, snapped it onto the catch in the back, raised the arm lever, and it jammed.
Ah, a simple solution, I thought. I grabbed my standard head screwdriver and adjusted the "bowl height", but to no avail. At its extreme, with the paddle installed, the bowl simply would not lift into place. Hmm.
Well, I figured, I'll check the motor. so I put the dough hook on instead, plugged the machine in and started the motor on stir. Immediately, the motor began putting out a smell of burnt plastic accompanied by a grinding screech. I increased the speed to 2 (but no higher), then turned it off immediately and opened the windows, the smell was so bad.
I removed the dough hook and noticed that the burnished finish on the aluminum hook was flaking off into the bowl and onto my hands. Strike three.
After getting back online, I realized that the 525 watt model is the interim model between the two reviews that Cook's Illustrated has done on Stand Mixers. Not only that, after reading the online reviews, it seems that many other people are having exactly the same problems with their mixers as I had with this one.
Now, here's the "However"...
I called KitchenAid today. The first thing they asked for was the model and serial number of the mixer. The gal I talked to was pleasant and helpful, and when I told her the model, she went straight to offering me a new mixer, one of the redesigned 6 quart models; I had to offer to tell her what was wrong with it.
Getting her to listen to my tale of woe was like pulling teeth and I gave up after one instance of my troubles, since she made it clear I was wasting my time. I have the distinct feeling now that the 525 watt Professional 6 is one of those models that KitchenAid would like to get behind them as quickly as possible. My new Professional 600 575 watt is in the mail right now, and I'm really looking forward to using it, if all the rave online and magazine reviews are accurate. The newly designed dough hook sounds particularly fine.