2014 Mazda6 Grand Touring HD Video Review
Shopping for a mid-sized sedan used to mean choosing between sedate and downright dull. Think back to previous generations of Altima, Optima, Sonata, Malibu and Fusion. At one time, each of them could be considered pharmaceutical-grade sleep aids. Now, they’re sleek machines. A few border on concept car material.
Hey, thanks for clicking the “like” located above the video. I live for that stuff.
Add the 2014 Mazda6 to the well-dressed list. For some it will make the top slot. It gets its inspiration from the Takeri concept vehicle and doesn’t stray too far from it. Design might be subjective, but an unusual number of people stopped to compliment the 6. One guy- and I cannot make this up- asked me if it was a Tesla Model S. I was gassing it up at the time.
I admire the svelte lines of the 6 but will say this about the KODO “soul of motion” design; occasionally, from some angles, the front fenders seem a little much. Sure, this is akin to complaining that Kate Upton’s swimsuit is not to my liking. I’m a critic. We’re a picky bunch.
FYI, the Grand Touring tester I’m driving with blind spot warning, adaptive cruise control and rich Bose sound stickers for $31,495 with destination.
One Very Hard Choice There are some awesome choices in the mid-sized family sedan market these days where manufactures have precious little room for missteps. Mazda is a small independent company. Since they’ve parted ways with Ford, this made-in-Japan sedan is Mazda’s work through and through.
Mazda aims to snag buyers with a philosophy summed up by their “zoom-zoom” marketing slogan. It’s not exactly “The Ultimate Driving Machine”, but hey, it’s the car that matters and Mazda delivers a thoroughly engaging experience. You’ll search for the curvy route when driving the 6. There’s very little body roll and the steering effort feels just right. Front-drive cars don’t get much better than this.
In it’s class, the 6’s ride quality is the firmest of the bunch (well okay, maybe Optima SX takes that prize). Considering Mazda6’s sporting aspirations, this fact should startle no one. Small bumps are easily handled, big ones are definitely felt. It’s never harsh though. In fact, 6’s suspension dynamic has an underlying suppleness that feels expensive. Brake hard and nose dive is well controlled. Body rigidity is impressive too.
Two Engines Mazda6 will get a diesel engine option in the second half of 2013 (which doesn’t require AdBlue treatment). That means I’m driving the gas-powered 2.5-liter SKYACTIV four-cylinder, which delivers 184 horsepower and 185 lb-ft of torque to your right foot. A six-speed manual is standard on the base model, Grand Touring gets a six-speed automatic that, in zoom-zoom spirit, gets steering wheel paddle shifters
Curious about SKYACTIV? It’s Mazda’s suite of technologies to make their cars more efficient. 6 is the second Mazda to get the full SKYACTIV treatment of high-compression ratio engines, transmissions and aerodynamic tweaks (it has a .26 coefficient of drag). Check out the CX-5 review for a full explanation.
Three To Get Ready If forward thrust is how you measure zoom-zoom, know that Mazda6 doesn’t have a V6 or turbo option. Fortunately, the car is no slouch; my approximate 0-60 time is 7.5 seconds. Transmission shifts snap off decisively. There’s no wind noise up past speeding ticket velocity. Road noise is mid-pack. The EPA rates fuel economy at an impressive 26 city, 38 highway. Driving briskly- as I suspect you will- I saw three mpg’s under that.
Standard on Grand Touring is Smart City Brake Support which uses lasers to detect crash situations then brakes automatically to reduces collisions under 19 miles an hour. Coming soon is i-ELOOP, the world’s first capacitor-based brake energy regeneration system to power all of a car’s electrical components. It doesn’t use a dedicated electric motor and battery, making it efficient, light, and compact. Mazda says i-ELOOP can improve overall fuel economy but it’s dependent on road conditions and driving habits. Cranking up the Bose system can’t be helpful either.
For Serious Pilots The no-nonsense instrument panel doesn’t distract drivers with superfluous swoops and graphics. It’s all about giving good information. Gauges are sober and readable with crisp white light. Materials are high quality with soft touch surfaces. The door handles feel good in hand. Avoiding the carbon fiber cliché, plum lacquered trim looks rich.
Mazda6 gets the luxury of simplicity. It’s user interface (sans any fancy name) is easier to use than some found in luxury brands. Use the console knob and function buttons, voice command or touch screen in any combination to get what you want. The 5.8-inch screen seems on the small size compared to some but the flexibility of operation choices make it fall-on-your face easy. TomTom map information is stored on an SD card for easy updates. Use your smartphone data plan to stream Pandora. Incoming texts can be spoken aloud, pre-programmed responses can be sent back. Please, please don’t get distracted behind the wheel. As a former news photographer I’ve seen the grizzly results.
The usual storage nooks are scattered about the cabin. Side bolstering is just right on the firm comfortable seats. They’re heated, but venting is not available. Neither is a full-on panoramic glass roof. Night lighting is pretty basic if that’s your thing.
Five Passengers Slide into Mazda6’s back seat and you’ll find the outboard positions comfortable and roomy enough. The center tunnel is on the big side, forcing feet onto the other occupants. There’s no power port to charge electronics or heated seats that Sonata and Optima offer. Door storage, air vents, duel seat pockets and folding armrest are here though.
Sedans like Accord, Camry, and Altima hold seven packs of the two-ply and sure enough, Mazda6 score the same in the TP Trunk Test. The space is nicely finished off, hinge arms are protected from scrunching stuff, and there’s a space saver spare tire under the load floor. Seatbacks split and fold to expand the trunk. Accord’s is a single unit, which is a drag when trying to get IKEA furniture home after bringing two friends to shop. And eat meatballs of course.
6 Appeal At a base price of $21,675 with destination, Mazda6 is like finding a Tom Ford suit at Nordstrom Rack. Feature for feature, other cars might beat the 6’s price tag, but those are numbers. It’s hard to put a price on soul and style. Mazda’s done it. The 6 has that the intangible quality that enthusiasts crave- a highly rewarding driving dynamic. Wrapped up in supermodel sheetmetal, the 2014 Mazda6 means drab and dull are a thing of the past.
STILL PHOTOS PROVIDED BY MAZDA