2015 Mazda 6 GT i-ELOOP at a glance
front-engine, FWD; six-speed manual or automatic
SKYACTIV 2.5-litre DOHC 16-valve four-cylinder (184 hp, 185 lb/ft)
GT i-ELOOP 8.4/5.9L/100km (city/hwy); as tested 7.6L/100km (comb)
GT starts at $32,295. As tested $35,395 includes Technology Package & i-ELOOP ($2,800), Soul Red Mica paint ($300). Freight & PDE ($1,695) not included.
It was time to write the 2015 Mazda 6 review.
It should have been easy enough when you consider this svelte and dynamic, well-designed and nearly perfected iteration of the mid-size sedan, seen in the accompanying photos in a scintillating shade of Soul Red Mica.
This third generation vehicle was reborn in renewed form just last year, with enough new design changes, enough tech refinements and enough dynamic improvements to blow away the competition, earning 2014 AJAC Canadian Car of the Year honours along with a slew of other awards.
The trouble with writing any car review, however, is that simply lifting the lid of my laptop opens a Pandora?s box of digital distractions,
Checking the latest emails, transferring online bank balances, downloading this, Facebooking that, bopping back and forth and, before you know it, hours have passed and I?m somehow reading on-line lectures about manatee migrations instead of studying Mazda modifications. Distractions are the enemy of achievement and (here?s my segue) I think if we stretch the analogy, we can even find automotive examples.
Take car engines, for instance, which were designed simply to move vehicles from A to B. While those motors are already fighting friction, load and aerodynamic drag, they have also been encumbered ever more with the auxiliary distractions of water pumps, power steering, power braking and electrical generation used for lighting, instrumentation, infotainment, heated seats, HVAC and all our other expected comforts.
Engineers categorize this power-sapping conundrum under the title of ?parasitic drag?. All car companies are tackling these challenges by reducing weight wherever possible and improving aerodynamic and engine efficiencies.
Mazda has grouped their holistic approach under the combined umbrella term ?SKYACTIV Technology?, a mix of performance-oriented, fuel saving engine, transmission, body and chassis modifications.
Last year?s 2014 Mazda 6 was the third vehicle in the corporate lineup to be revamped with a long list of SKYACTIV improvements, following earlier progressive steps altering the 2012 Mazda3 and the 2013 CX-5.
Those 2014 modifications, carried over for this 2015 Mazda 6, include a new 30 per cent more torsionally-rigid SKYACTIV-Chassis, a high-tensile steel SKYACTIV-Body that is also stronger and 44 kg lighter, and a 184 hp SKYACTIV-G 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine that features the world?s highest compression ratio running on regular octane fuel, along with a 30 per cent reduction in internal friction, offering improved fuel economy when mated to a choice of more efficient transmissions: the SKYACTIV-MT six-speed manual transmission or the SKYACTIV-Drive six-speed automatic.I know, I know, enough with the SKYACTIV this and SKYACTIV that, but let?s throw in one more unique-to-Mazda technology tested here in our 2015 Mazda 6 GT model - the new i-ELOOP system.
With its name derived from ?Intelligent Energy Loop,? i-ELOOP closes the break in the energy loop with the world?s first capacitor-based brake-energy regeneration system.
The i-ELOOP system was designed to power all the electrical mechanisms in a vehicle.
Regenerative braking systems recover a vehicle?s kinetic energy to power electrical components and i-ELOOP avoids the need of the dedicated electrical motor and battery combo used in hybrid vehicles, substituting instead a capacitor that is lighter and more efficient at recovering varying voltages of electricity.
Capacitors have the ability to charge and discharge more rapidly than batteries.
They are also more resistant to deterioration, despite prolonged use in real-world driving conditions. And the end result is an i-ELOOP system estimated to improve fuel economy by five percent.
The Mazda 6 GT tested here is normally rated at an already impressive 8.8/6.1L/100km (city/hwy).
Adding the i-ELOOP system tweaks the fuel efficiency rating to 8.4/5.9L/100km (city/hwy). My real world results after 500 km of mixed driving worked out to 7.6L/100km (comb).
The Mazda 6 comes in three trim levels - GX ($24,495), GS ($27,495) and GT ($32,295).
The automatic transmission adds $1,300 to the GX trim price, but is a no-cost option on GS and GT trim levels. And even the entry-level GX version starts with a respectable load of included equipment and the package contents increase progressively along with the above trim level prices.
The 2015 Mazda 6 GT model, topping out the trim level ladder, offers a heady mix of standards and luxuries including a power moonroof, leather seating, 11-speaker BOSE audio system, dual zone automatic climate control with rear HVAC, ABS, DSC, Traction Control, Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Rear View Camera, 19-inch alloy wheels, rain-sensing wipers, fog lamps and HID Xenon headlights with LED signature lighting.
The i-ELOOP system comes available at the GT trim level, added as part of a Technology Package ($2,800) that also includes Sirius XM Satellite Radio, Smart City Brake Support (automatic braking), Forward Obstruction Warning, Mazda Radar Cruise Control, High-Beam Control System and Lane Departure Warning System.
Customers will have to decide if the incremental increase in fuel economy and the other technologies make the extra package price worthwhile.
The midsize vehicle segment is a large and competitive slice of Canada?s automotive pie and the Mazda 6 competes against able contenders including the Ford Fusion, Toyota Camry, Hyundai Sonata and Honda Accord to name just a few, all of them priced roughly in a range from $22,000 - $35,000, depending on trim levels and content.
The first three competitors on that list - the Fusion, Camry and Sonata - also offer hybrid models near the top of that price range, which means that the 2015 Mazda 6 GT i-ELOOP has its work cut out against the competition.
In mid-November, Mazda sweetened the pot by adding unlimited mileage to all 2015 warranties, including the Mazda 6.
Yet, with its inherent ?Zoom-Zoom? attitude and unique take on midsize sportiness, the Mazda 6 continues to offer a viable alternative to customers looking for a different flavour of the blended characteristics of quality and style. And Mazda Canada continues to explore future evolutions of their Mazda 6 flagship, considering the possible expansion of the suite of SKYACTIV technologies with the potential addition of i-Stop (idle stop) technology and a 2.2-litre diesel that is already making a difference in other world markets.
Stay tuned for further developments.