This is Mazda’s second vehicle to implement its Skyactiv technology throughout the entire vehicle (the first was the CX-5) and a further departure from its previous parent company Ford.
Performance – Everything on the Mazda6 is brand new, from the engine, transmission, body, and suspension. It has a 4 cylinder gasoline direct injection engine (diesel option is also available) that has 184 hp and 185 ft-lbs of torque. Gone is the 272 hp 3.7L V6 in favor for more fuel efficient engines. I personally don’t mind the new 2.5L Skyactiv-G engine when driving around a city, but if you’re on a highway and you need to overtake someone, you need a large surge in power which the 4 cylinder engine can’t produce as well as a powerful V6 (or even a turbocharged 4 cylinder). However, the Skyactiv-D diesel engine (coming later in the year in North America) produces 300+ ft-lbs of torque at rpms lower than 2000 so it may satisfy people out there that are a bit more enthusiastic about driving. The engine is mated to either a new 6 speed automatic (as tested) or new 6 speed manual. The new automatic transmission is essentially 2 transmissions in one. At slow speeds (below 10km/h) it acts like a normal automatic but at higher speeds it uses clutches inside it to lock the torque converter and act more like a dual clutch transmission. The benefit of this is faster shifts and a more responsive feel from the engine when you accelerate.
The chassis and suspension also received a makeover with new designs. The suspension has been redesigned to reduce NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) while maintaining comfort and road feel through the steering wheel. The cornering radius is much smaller than the previous generation Mazda6 and the new suspension makes the car feel sportier rather than a boat on the road like the old Mazda6. The chassis and body have been lightened by almost 20% while improving rigidity by 30% and safety.
Comfort – The interior is a much nicer place to be in as well. The seats are very comfortable but not very supportive as I would have liked when driving enthusiastically through corners. The dash is a traditional layout with three dials on the instrument cluster and a large touchscreen display in the center. However Mazda has taken the same route as Ferrari and put as many buttons as they can onto the steering wheel which in my opinion just makes it too cluttered. In the back, passengers have the ability to control the heating and cooling for the rear seats but if you’re a taller person your knees will rub against the front seats. There is also a wagon version available for those who want more interior space but so far Mazda has not announced the wagon version for the North American market.
Odds and Ends – The redesigned styling is one of the best in the industry today for family sedans and you’d be hard pressed to lose it in a parking lot. As is the norm in today’s world, it features daytime LED lights and a bunch of electronics aids with acronyms that no normal person can understand: ABS, TCS, DSC, EBFD, AFS, BSM, RCTA, HBC, LDWS, MRCC, FOW, and SCBS. Possibly the best of those is the DSC (dynamic stability control) and MRCC (Mazda radar cruise control).
I personally like this car a lot but I do think that a more powerful gasoline engine should have been made available with this car. However we now live in a world where fuel prices are getting more expensive and various taxes on vehicles are also increasing so the day of the powerful V6 is now over. We’ll just have to wait and see if the diesel engine can provide as much fun at a fraction of the fuel…. that is something I thought I’d never say.