On the heels of reviewing the 2011 Mazda 6, comes news reports that the family sedan might be tossed out of Mazda’s line up. Dismal sales are to blame, and seeing that Mazda predicted 100,000 units sold in 2010 and only meeting half that, we can’t blame them for considering the move. We can’t blame the consumer either. The Mazda 6 is a great car, as we’ll get into in just a moment, but there is an enormous amount of competition in this segment. The problem is that if Mazda pulls the 6, they won’t have anything competing in the mid-sized sedan segment in America. That’s not a good prospect either.
Enough with the doom and gloom for now, it’s time to see what we think about this 2011 Mazda i Touring.
This is only the second-generation of the Mazda 6; the redesigned body is more sculpted and curvy than the first-gen. The front end takes from design cues of the RX-8 and the Kodo design language Mazda has been exploring in their concept cars. The skinny, but swooped, back headlights over the front arches have lots of detail and curved lines within them. The taillights have a very European look with lots of detail in them as well. The biggest expression that comes to mind when looking at this car is, Zoom-Zoom.
Inside this Mazda was a simplistic setup. Easy to read and functional buttons, cloth seats, no navigation, and I quite liked it. Sporty cars need less clutter sometimes. The dark interior was bathed in a nice red lighting from the center-stack. The quietness of the cabin over all road surfaces was probably one of my favorite features while driving the 6. The experience while driving is one of elegance and an upscale feel.
The 6 is still built on the Ford Fusion platform and that’s one of the biggest positives toward this car. The Fusion is a great riding and quiet car; in return the Mazda 6 has a great ride and a quiet interior. As we said with the looks, the ride gives you that sporty feeling. It’s flat and responsive through cornering, and it’s steering is weighted well for the car’s abilities. This all comes together in one great ride.
Our test car, i 6 Touring, came equipped with Mazda’s new 2.5 liter 4-cylinder engine. This engine pushes out 170 horsepower, but it just never seemed like enough to really give you that Zoom-Zoom feeling. It didn’t help that we also had an automatic transmission matched up to it. If equipped with a manual transmission, I’m sure that it would help the 6’s cause, but a little more horsepower wouldn’t hurt either.
In that case, the Mazda 6 can also be equipped with a 3.7 liter V6 pushing 272 horsepower, only with an automatic. This combination will get you a 0-60 time of 6.1 seconds. That’s more like it!
So besides the power lacking engine, the Mazda 6 is still a fun, enjoyable, and great looking car. But why then are they having such trouble selling it? And why are we destined to lose it? Well, although this is a good car, it’s not great. Not enough to stand out in the crowd. I think the design brings it up a lot, but it could also be more polarizing. The thing is, if you want to be a player in the American market, you have to field a mid-sized sedan. If Mazda drops the 6, will it really be worth it for them? Would the rest of the lineup be able to keep Mazda dealers around the US afloat? These are real questions that Mazda has to ask itself.
If they are to keep the 6, how can they improve upon it to help increase sales? Here is txGarage’s Top Tips for Mazda going forward. First, go rear-wheel drive. I know, I know it’s more expensive. But with Mazda’s racing heritage, I think they could pull off a simpler, cheaper rear-wheel drive sedan. Next, offer a 4-cylnder turbo’d engine option. Finally, just keep improving the design and market the car like it was a Miata with 4-doors. I’m really not sure if that would help significantly improve sales, but it would make the 6 a much more desirable vehicle, and almost put it in a class of its own.