Review: 2021 Mazda6 Kuro Edition
Mazda’s mid-size goes aspirational
In a consumer market that has moved decidedly away from the segment it occupies, the Mazda6 continues to mark the time as a fine example of a vehicle most new car buyers ignore.
Only 1,049 Mazda6s were sold in Canada in 2020 that represented a 25 per cent year-over-year decline. It suffered a similar fate in the U.S. where 16,204 units were sold, which equalled a 24 per cent drop. Certainly, the pandemic didn’t help the fortunes of the Mazda6 (or any other vehicle) in 2020, but how far its sales will rebound going forward is an open question.
Regardless, the Mazda6, now in its third generation, soldiers on. The current model was introduced globally in 2012, and in North America in 2013 as a 2014 model. A mid-cycle refresh in 2018 introduced new front and rear fascias, new headlights and taillights and a revamped interior, among other changes.
In terms of powertrains, two 2.5-litre Skyactiv-G four-cylinder engines are available: one normally aspirated, one turbocharged. Both are paired with a six-speed automatic transmission that drives the front wheels. The Canadian market is well-served with five available grades. The bottom three (GS, GS-L and GT) come standard with the non-turbo 2.5-litre (187 hp / 186 lb-ft), while the top two (Kuro Edition, Signature) receive the more powerful 2.5-litre turbo (227 hp / 310 lb-ft). Of note, 93 octane fuel boosts output of the latter engine to 250 hp / 320 lb-ft.
The Kuro Edition is a new arrival for 2021 and, for an extra $3,000 over the GT, it receives the more powerful 2.5-litre turbo engine along with a host of black trim items (mirror caps, front and rear door panels, 19-inch wheels, etc.) and a Garnet Red leather interior that includes soft touch panels in the dashboard, centre console and doors finished with decorative stitching. Two exterior colours are available: Jet Black Mica and Polymetal Grey Metallic. For the purposes of this review, Mazda Canada set me up with a copy of the former. Of note, Mazda offers similar Kuro Edition models for its CX-5 and CX-9 utilities.
Regarding the Mazda6’s design, I’ll be brief: it has aged well. The 2018 refresh went just far enough to keep the car current, without blunting its original appeal. The car’s sleek lines, handsome proportions and sharp aerodynamic aesthetic is as prominent now as it was when it went on sale in 2013. It doesn’t feel like it’s been around for almost a decade, which is not something that can be said for most cars of its age.
The GT is the donor car for the Kuro Edition from a content perspective, so the starting point is hardly bare bones. Standard kit on that model includes an 8-inch infotainment display with embedded navigation, leather seating, 11-speaker Bose audio system, wireless Apple CarPlay, LED lighting (standard on all Mazda6 models) and a slew of safety features such as pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, lane keep assist and the like.
The GT equipment combined with content unique to the Kuro Edition makes for a rich mass market-branded car. Near premium, I’d say, which is in keeping with other upper-trim Mazdas I’ve driven in recent years. Touch points have a richness to their construction and controls and switches operate with simple precision exuding an aspirational aesthetic. A spacious cabin with room for five and a 416-litre trunk underlines its high degree of practicality.
On the road, the 2.5-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder offer brisk acceleration, particularly with sport mode engaged, and feels responsive throughout the rev range. The driving character doesn’t change that much, but a flick of the sport mode tab on the centre console will bump the revs noticeably for sharper throttle response, and the six-speed automatic will hold revs longer between upshifts – standard sport mode stuff. A manual mode with paddle shifters allows for a more dynamic driving experience if one so chooses.
As for ride and handling, I didn’t have access to a closed course but in everyday driving conditions the Mazda6 Kuro delivers a solidly planted ride that feels responsive and comfortable. Steering response and general handling are impressive, but broken and patchy pavement did upset the ride somewhat, as it does for most cars. Sound suppression is reasonably good, although the use of sport mode will deliver more engine noise into the cabin. I didn’t find it to be too obtrusive, but your mileage may vary.
While it may not appear especially striking at first glance, the Mazda6 Kuro Edition’s subtle appeal grows over time. It’s contemporary good looks, rich appointments and aspirational feel make it an easy car to enjoy. Its drive carries some performance, but its all-around competence as a daily driver is what lingers.
What I said recently about the Volkswagen Arteon applies here, as it does for most remaining sedans: buyers should give them fair consideration. If they do, they just might find what they were looking for. Like the Mazda6 Kuro Edition, for example.
The vehicle was provided to the writer by the automaker. Content and vehicle evaluations were not subject to approval.
2021 Mazda6 Kuro Edition
BODY STYLE: mid-size sedan
DRIVE METHOD: Front-engine, front-wheel-drive, six-speed automatic transmission
ENGINE: 2.5-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder (227 hp, 310 lb-ft; 250 hp / 320 lb-ft w/ 93 octane)
FUEL ECONOMY: (Regular 87) 10.0 / 7.5 / 8.9 L / 100 km city / highway / combined
CARGO VOLUME: 416 litres (14.7 cu ft)
PRICE: $37,950 base, $37,950 as tested, excl. taxes