Mazda’s quest for upmarket aspirations was centered on this mid-sized sedan. Last year’s introduction of the latest Mazda6 sent shockwaves to not only its current owners, but the rest of the automobile industry. All of the sudden, it got real.
But, how? The Mazda6 was always the brand’s centerpiece in terms of performance, design, and execution. Without it, Mazda would not have transferred its progress to their other models - namely their popular Mazda3 and CX-5.
It has been a while since we had a Mazda6. We wanted to see if it has held up since its introduction last year – in particular, its top version, called the Signature.
Based on the design language that began with the last Mazda6, this latest version evolved in terms of the grille, headlamps, roofline, and rear deck. You will find a bit more chrome and better finishes than before. The lines are sharper and bolder – that includes the grille shape, the narrower headlamps and taillight assemblies.
It remains one of the sportiest offerings in its class – designed for the enthusiast with a family. However, its upmarket aspirations created a new spin on this car by elevating the details on the Signature trim. We had consumers compliment the Mazda6 by saying it looked like an Infiniti or a Lexus. These compliments show how much Mazda’s premium brand aspirations seem to be working for them.
Stepping inside, the best word to describe the interior is “posh.” It is a symphony of very soft leather surfaces all around from the seats to the instrument panel. The front seats themselves are also very comfortable and supportive. The driver and front passenger have great space, while rear seat passengers have decent rear seat space. Taller passengers may have to negotiate the rakish roofline.
Trunk space is generous and nicely laid out. You can load 14.7 cubic feet of stuff behind the rear seats – and, yes, they do fold down for longer items.
The instrument binnacle has both analog and digital readouts, including a speedometer featuring a series of screens inside of it for trip and vehicle functions and data. There are now two mini gauges on each side of the speedometer – one to monitor fuel range, the other for MPG. The tachometer, temperature and gas gauges flank each side of the new screen.
The Mazda Connect screen crowns the top of the center stack. You can control it through a series of knobs and buttons on the center console. Plus, there are steering wheel controls for volume and pre-set/track changes.
Normal Mazda6 models get the familiar 2.5-liter SKYACTIV-G four-cylinder with. This Signature model, along with the Grand Touring Reserve model, gets a turbocharged version of the same engine with up to 250 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. This engine has more passing power with quiet cruising at highway speeds. This engine is connected to a six-speed automatic transmission that shifts smoothly, while sending power to the front wheels. In all, we saw a fuel economy average of 29.0 MPG.
The ride quality is terrific on smoother surfaces, but the suspension system works hard to absorb through the rougher sections. Where you find Mazda's sweet spot is how it handles through the corners and the occasional evasive maneuver. It does so with confidence and some swagger. It cuts through the corners precisely and flat. It also responds to every move you see to avoid trouble on the road.
The steering system feels a bit on the light side in Normal mode, you can weigh down the wheel by switching it to Sport. Mainly, Sport mode is designed for longer gear holds and more aggressive shifts. It also helped to gain some control over tighter corners. The turning radius is good with a solid response from the thick-rimmed steering wheel. The brakes are good with excellent pedal feel and response. They also showed superb stops in normal and panic situations.
One item of concern is tire noise. If Mazda wishes to position this car in the premium market, the cabin might need some more sound deadening.
The Mazda6 starts off with a base price of $23,800 for the Sport model. Our Signature tester came with a sticker price of $36,815.
However, the Mazda6 may still be considered a competitor in the mid-sized family sedan market. It’s immediate rivals in that segment include the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima, Subaru Legacy, Volkswagen Passat, Chevrolet Malibu, and Ford Fusion. However, the Mazda6 is also positioned against the BMW 3-Series, Audi A4, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Jaguar XE, Alfa Romeo Giulia, Volvo S60, Lexus IS, Infiniti Q50, Genesis G70, Lincoln MKZ, and Cadillac’s upcoming CT4 and CT5.
The Mazda6 is both a car for families and for enthusiasts who prefer a more premium feel. We feel that consumers will love it either way.
Story Credits: CarSoup Editors