is one of those cars that for some reason has never really connected with consumers.
Why that’s the case is the million-dollar question for Mazda because their flagship sedan has long been lauded by automotive journalists, myself included, as one of the best in its class.
Like other vehicles in the Mazda stable, driving dynamics take centre stage with the 6, making it one of the sportiest family sedans in the segment.
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The latest generation launched in 2012 and for 2016 has had a refresh with an updated interior along with tweaks on the outside that further polish an already handsome design.
Mazda says it has also improved functionality, ride comfort, quietness and safety in the 2016 model
After a week with a top-of-the-line Mazda6 GT, I can’t argue with any of those assertions. It offers one of the best ‘fun factors’ in the family sedan category thanks to the ‘zoom zoom’ that has taken Mazda vehicles to the forefront among driving enthusiasts.
Interior changes for 2016 include a new-look instrument panel and floor console along with Mazda’s first application of an electronic parking brake. The navigation and media systems have been updated with a rotary-style control knob.
The cockpit remains driver oriented with its head-up display, showing vehicle speed and other driving information in real time on the windshield. The cabin overall looks spiffier with materials that appear to be a step up from previous efforts with a much more premium look and feel.
Legroom is generous, both front and rear, as is the cargo capacity of 419 litres in the trunk. By folding the 60/40 split rear seats, the cargo volume can be expanded. Rear seats are now heated, a first in the Canadian market, according to Mazda.
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One of the criticisms of the Mazda6 in some quarters has been the lack of engine choices and that is a legitimate beef.
Perhaps in the future we’ll see a turbo option like the one in the new 2016 CX-9
crossover or even a diesel variant.
For now, a 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine is the sole offering.
It is a solid one, though, making 184 hp and 185 lb/ft of torque, when mated with a six-speed automatic transmission. A six-speed manual tranny is also offered on all three trim levels, GX, GS and GT.
While the ‘zoom zoom’
is evident in this car, it doesn’t have the performance one might see with a turbo four or a V6. That said, acceleration is decent and our Mazda6 tester did not feel sluggish by any means. In fact, it was smooth, quiet and comfortable.
But efficiency is the name of the game here with this five-passenger mid-size sedan. Mazda has taken its Skyactiv Technology to a new level with a great balance of driving pleasure, safety and environmental performance.
With the optional Technology Package, Mazda6 GT models like our test vehicle have something called an i-ELOOP brake energy regeneration system to help reduce fuel consumption by up to five per cent.
Natural Resources Canada puts fuel economy for the GT at 8.5 L/100 km city and 5.9 highway — pretty impressive for a 1,474 kg mid-size sedan.
During our time with the vehicle we came pretty close to those numbers when we weren’t testing out the performance and handling on some of the twisties in rural areas nearby.
Speaking of that, the Mazda6 handles extremely well with its MacPherson struts up front and multilink rear end.
The steering is precise and the suspension tends toward the sportier side of the ledger, being a little stiffer than much of the competition. For the driving enthusiast that would be a plus-factor, but other buyers in this segment might favour a softer ride.
On the technology front, the Mazda6 has a number of advanced safety features including blind spot monitoring standard on the GS and GT trims.
This also incorporates Rear Cross Traffic Alert, which detects vehicles approaching from either side as the driver backs up.
The Mazda6 starts at $24,695 for a GX trim with six-speed manual (add $1,300 for the six-speed automatic).
Moving up to the GS, the pricing starts at $27,995 for either the manual or automatic, while the GS with luxury package is $30,995.
Meanwhile, our tester was a GT model with Technology Package, priced at $37,390 including the $1,695 freight and PDI.
Here you get features like 19-inch alloy wheels, an 11-speaker Bose audio system, dual zone automatic climate control, LED headlights, adaptive front lighting system and LED fog lights.
So while sedans are losing ground to crossovers these days, mid-size family cars will still be a significant segment of the market and the Mazda6 is one of the best.
Mazda6 GT 2016
Mid-size four-door sedan.
Front engine, front-wheel drive.
Skyactiv-G 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine (184 hp, 185 lb/ft or torque) with six-speed manual or six-speed automatic.
8.5/5.9 L/100 km city/highway.
$32,895; as tested, $37,390 including $1,695 freight and PDI.
WEB SITE: www.mazda.ca