One year and six months ago, I lost the love of my life when my faithful 1996 Saturn passed on. Instead of jumping into another ?relationship,? I opted to spend a year off-road and, for once, take my time choosing a nice, new vehicle. In the months ahead, I?ll be reviewing the cars that are vying to fill the shoes my Saturn left behind. Today, the Mazda6 GT …
Let’s see, how do I phrase this delicately, with ladylike restraint and decorum? When none of those are my strong point? Ah to heck with it, I’ll just come out with it: I have the serious hots for the Mazda6. I would even go so far as to say I’m in love with it, although I usually wait for “the other person” to say it first.
That chemistry I natter about in previous reviews swept into my driveway in a big, red way a few weeks ago. I felt it the instant we met, and so did everyone who saw me with it. Even complete strangers. (During a photo shoot in a Brampton park, a young boy and his sister drove by on their bikes. The boy came to a jolting stop, his mouth agape. “Nice car!” he gushed. “Is that a 2014?” “The heck?” I thought. “He’s 7 if he’s a day!”)
But I’ve spent enough time with good-looking strangers to know that beauty is sometimes only paint deep. So I did a fairly amazing job of reserving my judgment. “Time will tell,” I murmured as I stroked its upholstery in an almost creepy way.
That was on Monday. By Wednesday, there was no denying it anymore. I was in love.
And I fell a little deeper every time I drove this charming sedan. It was smooth, luxurious and whisper-quiet. The leather steering wheel felt rich and touchable, and the seats! The two-tone cream leather with dark charcoal backs and oxblood stitching, supple and touchable, with just the right amount of firmness. (Sorry. I’m creeping myself out again. If I were the Mazda6, I’d be looking around nervously for exits right now.)
More importantly, it drove like a charm. The Mazda6 GT is everything I need and want in a car: a luxuriously comfortable, efficient, grown-up ride that’s equally at home on city roads or highways. Unlike so many of its contemporaries, it responds when you step on the gas as opposed to making “going faster” noises but not actually going faster.
And it is fantastic on gas. I drove it all over the city during the week and then to the Kawarthas on the weekend before I had to even think about paying a visit to a gas station. This is thanks largely to Mazda’s Sky-Activ technology, but also gets a hand from its i-Eloop brake regenerating system. (In a nutshell, the system converts? kinetic energy into electricity when the car brakes. The electricity is stored for later use?? to power the headlights or the audio system, for example ? instead of burning extra fuel to generate electricity.)
But of course, one must expect a few flaws in even the most almost-perfect of suitors, and the Mazda6 is not without minor imperfections.
The lane departure alert, for example, was startlingly loud and, frankly, annoying (which it’s supposed to be, but I’m not a sleeper and I’m not a drifter, so that got shut off REAL quick). The engine has a bit of drone-like hum to it ? that’s the tradeoff for being made of lighter material ? and ever since that week I spent with the Lincoln MKZ and its panoramic roof I can’t help thinking all the smaller moonroofs look miserly.
Lastly, the car handles well, but not quite as tightly as I like. All-wheel-drive is pretty much a must on my list, and it’s really a pity this car doesn’t have it.
However, all things considered, I was smitten with the Mazda6. It’s an amazing car for the price, and of all the four-wheeled “dates” I’ve been on so far, this is one I could really see myself settling down with.
Heart score: 8.7 out of 10 (AWD would have boosted the score to 8.9)
Price: $32,195, base price; $41,917 as tested